December 30 – Baking Soda Day

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-baking-day-at-grandma's-cover

About the Holiday

Baking soda is one of those little chemical compounds that is indispensable in so many ways. First produced in 1791 by French chemist Nicolas Leblanc, it’s used for everything from cleaning solutions to health remedies to black snake fireworks to science fair volcanoes. In 1846 two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church, established the first factory in the United States to produce baking soda from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. Of course, baking soda is also used to make treats of all kinds – even the ones featured in today’s book!

Baking Day at Grandma’s

Written by Anika Denise | Illustrated by Christopher Denise

 

Three little cubs bundle up in their winter coats, hats, scarves, and mittens and head out over the snowy hills to Grandma’s for baking day. Soon they see “past the pond so smooth and clear / little cottage drawing near.” A knock on Grandma’s door brings her closer, and when she opens the door the trio give her a kiss before entering the snug home.

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-baking-day-at-grandma's-in-the-snow

Image copyright Christopher Denise, courtesy of Philomel Books

After warming their toes by the fire, the young bears grab the cookbook, a mixing bowl, a spoon, and a whisk because “It’s baking day! / It’s baking day! / It’s baking day! / at Grandma’s!” As her little bakers stand on chairs to reach the table, Grandma passes out aprons and reads the recipe. Happily crowded around the bowl, the cubs with “wooden spoon and measuring cup, / mix the batter; stir it up. / Fold it gently in the pan, / lick the spoon because we can.”

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-baking-day-at-grandma's-marching-around

Image copyright Christopher Denise, courtesy of Philomel Books

While they wait for their treats to bake, Grandma pours tummy-warming mugs of hot chocolate and one little bear draws a smiley face on the frosty window for a little chickadee to see. Grandma puts a record on her old Victrola, and as she sings the “soft and sweet skippy notes,” the cubs tap their feet. At last the kitchen timer rings, and the little bears dance arm in arm because “It’s baking day! / It’s baking day! / It’s baking day! / at Grandma’s!”

The chocolate goodies pop from the pan, and with icing and sprinkles are ready to be wrapped and tied with a red ribbon. Other treats get pretty bags, “each one marked with little tags.” The cubs are also bundled nice and warm, and with final hugs for Grandma, they are soon “Walking home under the moon. / Back to visit Grandma soon.”

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-baking-day-at-grandma's-music

Image copyright Christopher Denise, courtesy of Philomel Books

Anika Denise’s sweet, rhyming story is as heartwarming as a cozy kitchen on a cold day. The buoyant rhythm is a joy to read, and Denise’s infectious repeated verse, “It’s baking day! / It’s baking day! / It’s baking day! / at Grandma’s!” invites little ones to join in the story. The bond between the three cubs and their grandma is full of love and hugs, and just like the young bears, readers will want to return again and again to Grandma’s house.

Christopher Denise infuses his winter landscapes and Grandma’s house with rich, warm colors that welcome readers into this special family baking day. The three cubs, wrapped in green coats and red knit caps, march with their sled over brilliant white snowy hills between their house and Grandma’s tidy log cabin. Inside, the rooms glow with golden sunshine, and it’s easy to see why the cubs love their attentive grandma so as she gently guides them in baking.

Newly available as a board book, Baking Day at Grandma’s is a book that young children will love to hear over and over at story time, naptime, or bedtime. It would also make an appreciated gift to or from a grandmother.

Ages 2 – 5

Philomel Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-0399171574 (board book) / 978-0399242441 (hardcover)

Learn more about Anika Denise and her books and find Reader Engagement and Activity Kits on her website!

Discover the illustrated world of Christopher Denise on his website!

Spend time baking with Grandma with this sweet book trailer!

Bake for Family Fun Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cupcakes

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

 

This delicious vanilla cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction would definitely please Grandma—and they’ll become your favorite confection too!

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 and 2/3 cup (210g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup (60g) vanilla Greek yogurt (or plain; or regular yogurt; or even sour cream)
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vanilla almond milk (or cow’s milk; or soy milk; or plain almond milk)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean1

Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4-5 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean1
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in sugar – mixture will be gritty. Whisk in egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Split 1 vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise. Scrape seeds from half of the vanilla bean into batter. Reserve other half.
  3. Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick.
  4. Divide batter among 12 cupcake liners (or 24 mini) and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake for 8-9 minutes if making mini cupcakes. Allow to cool.
  5. To make the frosting, beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (1/4 teaspoon). Frost cooled cupcakes (I used Wilton 1M piping tip). There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.
  6. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator up to 7.

Additional Notes

  1. If you can’t get your hands on vanilla beans, add an extra ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract instead.
  2. Strongly urged to use heavy cream. You may use milk or half-and-half, but heavy cream will give the frosting a thicker texture. I recommend it!

For ways to adapt this recipe and more scrumptious recipes, visit Sally’s Baking Addiction. I guarantee you’ll go back again and again!

Picture Book Review

November 23 – Thanksgiving Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thankful-eileen-spinelli-cover

About the Holiday

While holidays exist all around the world to give thanks for our many blessings, today’s celebration commemorates the traditional American Thanksgiving Day. Its roots go back to 1621 when 50 Pilgrims gathered with 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe to celebrate the settlers’ surviving the first year in their adopted country. The fourth Thursday in November was not officially recognized as a national holiday until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln, convinced by the letters and appeals by Sarah Josepha Hale (writer of the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), signed the proclamation.

During the Great Depression, president Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday in the month, hoping to jump-start the gift-buying season and thus help the struggling economy. That idea never caught on, though, and the Thanksgiving was moved back to its original calendar spot. To lean more fascinating facts about Thanksgiving, visit allParenting.

Thankful

Written by Eileen Spinelli | Illustrated by Archie Preston

 

When Thanksgiving Day dawns we contemplate the things we are thankful for. Our thoughts often go to the large, all-encompassing ideas: we’re thankful for our families, our friends, our jobs. But Eileen Spinelli points out those smaller, concrete, more personal things that make us happy or make life better in immeasurable ways. To begin, “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. The reporter is thankful for interesting news.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thankful-eileen-spinelli-story-time

Image copyright Archie Preston, 2015, courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Gardeners are happy when their crops begin to grow, and firemen are glad when the fire goes out. “The poet is thankful for words that rhyme. The children for morning story time.” Without color and light, the artist could not paint, doctors give thanks “when their patients get well,” and travelers are thankful when they find a nice place to stay. Dancers give thanks for music that inspires them, and tailors for their sewing machines.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thankful-eileen-spinelli-story-artist

Image copyright Archie Preston, 2015, courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Chefs are happy when diners clean their plates, the honey maker for the busy bees, and the sailor for his “sturdy boat.” “The birder is thankful to list a new bird. The pastor is thankful for God’s loving word.” Crafters? Well, they’re “thankful for glitter and glue.” And the reader, the listener? They’re “ever so thankful for you!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thankful-eileen-spinelli-chef-and-sewing-machine

Image copyright Archie Preston, 2015, courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Eileen Spinelli’s endearing story of thanks for all of the objects, ideas, actions, and feelings that make every person unique and each situation just a little bit better is a heartfelt reminder of life’s joys for Thanksgiving Day and every day of the year. Her easy-flowing, rhyming verses depict a wide range of particular moments and broader experiences—each of which make the world a richer place. The final pages reveal what every little reader wants to hear and share—the mutual love between parent and child.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thankful-eileen-spinelli-poet

Image copyright Archie Preston, 2015, courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Archie Preston accompanies each couplet with a humorous illustration starring two adorable siblings playing out each scenario. Preston’s colorful, detailed line drawings show all the industrious, playful, and thoughtful togetherness that makes children and adult readers thankful for every day.

Ages 4 – 8

Zonderkidz, 2015 |ISBN 978-0310000884 (Hardcover); 978-0310761402 (Board Book, 2017)

Discover more about Eileen Spinelli and her many books on her website.

Thanksgiving Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Thanksgiving-leaves-falling-coloring-page

Thanksgiving Tree Activity Page

 

There are so many things to be thankful for! Fill in the leaves on this printable Thanksgiving Tree Activity Page with the things you’re thankful for then color the page!

Picture Book Review

November 16 – It’s Family Stories Month

Celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Harry-and-Clare's-Amazing-Staycation-Cover

About the Holiday

All families have stories—some funny, some poignant—about family members, friends, and events from the past and even just last week or yesterday! Today’s holiday encourages people to gather together and share their stories, Oral storytelling has been part of people’s lives and culture since ancient times. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected to your own family heritage and build bonds that last forever. The stories your children will be telling start now in the everyday and special moments they share with others.

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation

Written by Ted Staunton | Illustrated by Mika Song

 

Vacation began on Monday. So did the rain. Harry and Clare decided to go to Mars. After all it was only as far away as the family room and looked quite the same—“except for the volcanoes” that spouted lava all over the rug. Harry found traversing the alien landscape harder than Clare. He had to carry all the luggage while she carried the snacks; and while Clare ate the snacks, Harry was busy drowning in quicksand.

Tuesday dawned gray and rainy. Fortunately, Harry and Clare “could ride a Pasta Linguini racer around an indoor course in the supermarket.” The field was fierce, and Harry told Clare to turn left, but Clare didn’t listen. “‘I’m driving,’” she said. “Following a dizzying skid through the frozen food, Clare let Harry park them in the checkout line.” And while Harry was hanging on tight with both hands as Clare directed, she ate both of their granola bars.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-lava

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

The downpour continued on Wednesday. The pool seemed the perfect respite, but just as Harry was about to transform into a dolphin doing spectacular dives, “he was captured by a pirate queen who made him walk the plank instead.” Harry’s fortunes only turned bleaker when later that day Teacher Clare caught Harry eating his snack during lessons and sent him to the principal’s office.

Unfortunately, the principal looked a lot like Clare, and she passed a stiff sentence: “‘People who eat during arithmetic are not allowed to eat at all.’” Suddenly, Harry had an idea, but the principal—who mumbled through a mouthful—told him not to speak. Harry was not to be so easily dismissed, however.

As soon as the principal released him, he grabbed a snack and headed up High Staircase Mountain. When he heard the Abdominal Snowman close at his heels, he quickly hid the cookies in his pocket. At dinner, Harry was able to sneak more provisions into his pocket and keep them safe as he performed a high-wire trapeze trampoline act on the couch and jumped through hoops for Clare the Lion Tamer.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-hippo

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

On Thursday the sun finally came out, and Harry and Clare took a jungle tour. The jungle “looked a lot like the park, except for the vines and wild animals.” As they ran through the thick vegetation, Clare and Harry avoided umpire bats and leaped over sandbox hippos on their search for a “‘sunken ship guarded by a monster octopus.’” All this time Harry held on to the idea he’d had.

Then, just as they were being threatened by elephant hummingbirds, Clare realized they’d forgotten to bring snacks and said they’d have to turn their dragons around and go back. Harry, however, simply climbed off his bike dragon and pulled a baby carrot from his pocket. Clare was nonplussed. “‘Where did you get that?’” she wanted to know, but Harry just took something else from his stash and continued munching.

“‘Is that a cookie?’ Clare asked. Harry swallowed. ‘Asteroid burger,’ he said….‘I have asteroid burgers and volcano sticks.’” Clare listened to her grumbling stomach and accepted some of both. She even accepted Harry’s idea that the treasure was in a cave under a mountain as long as an octopus monster still guarded it.

Harry and Clare played for hours. Harry discovered “prehistoric park-bench dinosaur skeletons,” and Clare dispersed a group of squirrel sharks. On the way home Harry and Clare split the “last of the volcano sticks and asteroid burgers. They made a nice combination.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-playground

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

In his imaginative tale of a rainy school staycation, Ted Staunton captures the sibling power structure with wit and wisdom. Readers will appreciate Harry and Clare’s daily—almost moment-to-moment—inventiveness that mirrors children’s supple imaginations. As a younger brother, Harry bears the brunt of Clare’s bossiness, but in the process begins to grasp where the real clout lies. By biding his time, he quietly advocates for himself and changes the dynamics to both of the children’s benefit. Staunton’s funny dialogue and situations ring true, as do the clever uses of everyday items and places to spur the siblings’ creativity. The final line offers a sweet future for this loveable brother and sister.

Mika Song ingeniously transcribes Harry and Clare’s imaginings into action-packed illustrations full of personality. The sibling relationship unfolds through humorous scenes and animated facial expressions. Harry sinks in bubbling lava while Clare eats snacks at a safe distance; Harry and Clare get caught behind an elderly “racecar” driver in the grocery store: Harry is pulled up short by his changing fortunes on the diving board; and Teacher Clare teeters in her mother’s shoes. Song’s fresh color palette lends an open, airy feeling to the story, and her adorable siblings make for exciting companions for readers any day.

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation would be a cute addition to any child’s bookshelf for story times and to spur imaginative play. The book could also be a great jumping off point for discussions of empathy and understanding between siblings and/or friends.

Ages 4 – 8

Tundra Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1770498273

Discover more about Ted Staunton and his books on his website!

You’ll find a portfolio of artwork, comics, and books by Mika Song on her website!

Family Stories Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-printable-snakes-and-ladders-game

Snakes and Ladders Game

 

Family game night is a great place to create memories that become future stories! Here’s a printable Snakes and Ladders game for you to enjoy! Just watch out for that green snake!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the board game template
  2. Determine which player goes first by rolling the die. The player with the highest roll goes first.
  3. The first player rolls the die and moves along the game board, starting at square 1, the number of spaces indicated on the die.
  4. Other players take turns rolling the die and moving along the board.
  5. The first player to reach square 100 is the winner

Ladders: When a player lands on a space with the bottom of a ladder in it, the player moves up to the space at the top of the ladder and continues to play from there.

Snakes: When a player lands on a space with the head of a snake in it, the player slides down to the space with the snake’s tail in it and continues to play from there.

Picture Book Review

November 12 – It’s National Sleep Comfort Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-cover

About the Holiday

Did you sleep well last night? A good sleep makes all the difference in our quality of life. Many things affect our sleep patterns, including room temperature, light, screen time, stress, and the comfort of our mattress and pillows. If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are some things you can do. Get exercise each day, limit screen time in the hours before bedtime, set a comfortable temperature, and have a nightly routine that is soothing and invites relaxation and finally, sleep. National Sleep Comfort Month is the perfect time to make sure you’re taking care of your night life too!

Piggies in Pajamas

Written by Michelle Meadows | Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

 

It’s bedtime for the little piggies, but Papa isn’t home yet and Mama’s on the phone. So the five rambunctious kids find ways to spend the time. A peek into their room finds “Piggies in pajamas / jumping in the air / tossing up the pillows / popcorn in their hair.” The quadruple bunk beds make tall mountains to climb and perfect platforms for jumping into the ocean, but as the piggies dive onto the soft, pillow “water,” they hear Mama’s footsteps in the hall.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-mom-on-phone

Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The piggies “hurry to the tunnel. / Everybody, hide. / Underneath the covers, snuggle deep inside.” Soon all seems quiet, so they tiptoe from their beds to spy on Mama. They’re happy to see that she’s still occupied, leaving the tracks clear for the piggie train to toot, toot across the floor. But Mama, in her curlers, hears a suspicious sound and stomp, stomp, stomps upstairs.

Once more the five siblings rush to their beds and pull up the covers, their ears trained on any sound from downstairs. A familiar “crick, creak” tells them that Mama is now sitting down and chatting with Mrs. Cat. “Piggies in pajamas, / whirl around the room. / Cartwheels and somersaults— / Boom, Boom, Boom!” All that noise brings Mama stomp, stomp, stomping, but when she opens the piggies’ door, they’re all snuggled in and quiet as mice.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-parade

Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

One sneaky eye watches Mama as she descends the stairs on her way to the kitchen for an evening snack. In moments, the little ones are up again and searching through the trunk for toys and cars and dress-up clothes. Just then at the window they hear a “scratch, scratch, tap, tap” and although it’s only a tree branch waving in the wind, the imagined wolf or fox or bear has left them shivering.

One by one, all in a line they grab their blankets and crawl down the hall to a new cozy bed. While Mama’s washing up her face, they cuddle in and start to snooze. Soon, “Mama sees their pink ears. / Tails are sticking out. / Mama climbs into bed and / kisses every snout. / ‘Good night, piggies!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-kisses

Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The little piggies in Michelle Meadow’s sweet story want to do the right thing, but it’s just so exciting to stay up late! Readers know how they feel and will giggle along as the piggies romp when Mama’s gone but fly into bed when they hear her stomps. Meadow’s jouncy rhyme captures the freewheeling antics of unsupervised kids, the delicious suspense of getting caught, and the endearing appeal for comfort when kids are scared or truly ready to drift into dreams.

Ard Hoyt’s energetic piggies know how to make the most of Mama’s inattention! Bouncing on the bed with their popcorn snack, climbing a rope made of sheets to the top of the bedpost “mountain,” and strutting down the hall in a piggie train, these five siblings are as cute as can be. Hoyt’s split pages show both the expressive siblings and Mama as they go about their nightly routines, acting and interacting on the sounds they hear. The soft colors, humorous details, and final spreads of the piglets in Mama’s bed, tell readers that despite all the shenanigans, this is a house full of love.

Piggies in Pajamas would quickly become a bedtime favorite and a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5

Simon & Schuster, 2013 | ISBN 978-1416949824

Discover more about Michelle Meadows and her books as well as teachers activities on her website!

You can learn more about Ard Hoyt and view a gallery of his books on his website!

National Sleep Comfort Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-teddy-bear-sleeping-coloring-page

Sweet Dreams, Teddy! Coloring Page

 

The teddy bear in this printable Sweet Dreams, Teddy! Coloring Page is fast asleep and watched over by a silvery moon. Grab some crayons and have a little fun before going off to bed!

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review

September 11 – Make Your Bed Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-cover

About the Holiday

There are many benefits to making your bed each morning. Not only does your room look neat and tidy, but, according to the National Sleep Foundation, it can even make sleeping easier and more comfortable. It doesn’t take long to pull up the sheets and comforter, so take the opportunity of today’s holiday to get into a new habit! Pssst…if you really like to just jump up and go, Don’t Make Your Bed day is coming on December 21st!

Piggies in Pajamas

Written by Michelle Meadows | Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

 

It’s bedtime for the little piggies, but Papa isn’t home yet and Mama’s on the phone. So the five rambunctious kids find ways to spend the time. A peek into their room finds “Piggies in pajamas / jumping in the air / tossing up the pillows / popcorn in their hair.” The quadruple bunk beds make tall mountains to climb and perfect platforms for jumping into the ocean, but as the piggies dive onto the soft, pillow “water,” they hear Mama’s footsteps in the hall.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-mom-on-phone

Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The piggies “hurry to the tunnel. / Everybody, hide. / Underneath the covers, snuggle deep inside.” Soon all seems quiet, so they tiptoe from their beds to spy on Mama. They’re happy to see that she’s still occupied, leaving the tracks clear for the piggie train to toot, toot across the floor. But Mama, in her curlers, hears a suspicious sound and stomp, stomp, stomps upstairs.

Once more the five siblings rush to their beds and pull up the covers, their ears trained on any sound from downstairs. A familiar “crick, creak” tells them that Mama is now sitting down and chatting with Mrs. Cat. “Piggies in pajamas, / whirl around the room. / Cartwheels and somersaults— / Boom, Boom, Boom!” All that noise brings Mama stomp, stomp, stomping, but when she opens the piggies’ door, they’re all snuggled in and quiet as mice.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-parade

Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

One sneaky eye watches Mama as she descends the stairs on her way to the kitchen for an evening snack. In moments, the little ones are up again and searching through the trunk for toys and cars and dress-up clothes. Just then at the window they hear a “scratch, scratch, tap, tap” and although it’s only a tree branch waving in the wind, the imagined wolf or fox or bear has left them shivering.

One by one, all in a line they grab their blankets and crawl down the hall to a new cozy bed. While Mama’s washing up her face, they cuddle in and start to snooze. Soon, “Mama sees their pink ears. / Tails are sticking out. / Mama climbs into bed and / kisses every snout. / ‘Good night, piggies!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-piggies-in-pajamas-kisses

Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The little piggies in Michelle Meadow’s sweet story want to do the right thing, but it’s just so exciting to stay up late! Readers know how they feel and will giggle along as the piggies romp when Mama’s gone but fly into bed when they hear her stomps. Meadow’s jouncy rhyme captures the freewheeling antics of unsupervised kids, the delicious suspense of getting caught, and the endearing appeal for comfort when kids are scared or truly ready to drift into dreams.

Ard Hoyt’s energetic piggies know how to make the most of Mama’s inattention! Bouncing on the bed with their popcorn snack, climbing a rope made of sheets to the top of the bedpost “mountain,” and strutting down the hall in a piggie train, these five siblings are as cute as can be. Hoyt’s split pages show both the expressive siblings and Mama as they go about their nightly routines, acting and interacting on the sounds they hear. The soft colors, humorous details, and final spreads of the piglets in Mama’s bed, tell readers that despite all the shenanigans, this is a house full of love.

Piggies in Pajamas would quickly become a bedtime favorite and a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5

Simon & Schuster, 2013 | ISBN 978-1416949824

Discover more about Michelle Meadows and her books as well as teachers activities on her website!

You can learn more about Ard Hoyt and view a gallery of his books on his website!

Make Your Bed Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pajamas-coloring-page

Design Your Own Pajamas

 

Are pajama sleepers or tops and pants your favorites for bedtime? With this printable Design Your Own Pajamas coloring sheet, you can create jammies just the way you like them! 

Picture Book Review

September 9 – National Bake and Decorate Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-betty-bunny-loves-chocolate-cake-cover

About the Holiday

Sometimes when you bake something, it looks a little…well…naked. A plain cake? A monochrome cookie? They just cry out for some color—and maybe a rose or two, or a superhero, or some words, or candies, or…you get the picture. Today’s holiday understands! So, get out your baking utensils, gather some ingredients, and design a beautiful or funny decoration! 

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake

Written by Michael B. Kaplan | Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

 

Betty Bunny knows she’s a “handful” because her parents often tell her so. Betty Bunny also knew her parents love her, so she figures that “being a handful must be very, very good.” One day when her mom offered her a piece of chocolate cake after dinner, Betty Bunny declined. She didn’t like trying new things, and “announced: ‘I hate chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is yucky.” But then added “‘What’s chocolate cake?’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-betty-bunny-loves-chocolate-yucky-cake

Image copyright Stéphane Jorisch, text copyright Michael B. Kaplan. Courtesy of Penguin Books

With her first bite, Betty Bunny was in love. She was so in love, in fact, that she decided that when she grew up she was “going to marry chocolate cake.” Her siblings were supportive—kind of—but her older brother Bill thought “‘you’re going to have really weird-looking kids.’” The next day at school, Betty Bunny had chocolate on the brain. When her teacher went over the A B C’s Betty said, “‘A is for chocolate cake, B is for chocolate cake, C is for chocolate cake.’”

On the playground when Betty Bunny mixed together dirt and water, it looked like chocolate cake, but sure didn’t taste like it. At dinner Betty Bunny was ready for her dessert before her healthy dinner, but her mom said no; and her dad agreed with her mom. Her siblings tried to help—kind of. Henry suggested she eat some peas. Kate told her to eat her carrots, and Bill taunted, “‘Why don’t you have some chocolate cake? That’s what you really want. Oh, no, wait. You can’t. Ha-Ha.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-betty-bunny-loves-chocolate-cake-abc-for-chocolate-cake

Image copyright Stéphane Jorisch, text copyright Michael B. Kaplan. Courtesy of Penguin Books

Betty Bunny exploded. She threw peas at Henry, tossed carrots at Kate, and lobbed mashed potatoes at Bill. Betty Bunny’s mother was not pleased and sent her little daughter to bed without chocolate cake. “Betty Bunny screamed, ‘This family is yucky!’” and stomped up the stairs. Later, her mom came up to kiss her goodnight, and she had a plan. She would put a piece of cake in the fridge and the next day after a good dinner, Betty Bunny could have it. “‘Maybe if you know it’s there waiting for you, it will be easier to be patient,’” her mom said. Betty Bunny thought this was a great idea and “wanted to say something especially nice to her mother. ‘Mommy,’ she said, ‘you are a handful.’”  

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Image copyright Stéphane Jorisch, text copyright Michael B. Kaplan. Courtesy of Penguin Books

The next morning Betty Bunny couldn’t leave the house without first checking on her piece of cake. It looked so alone sitting on the plate all by itself, so Betty Bunny decided to put it in her pocket and take it to school with her. All day the secret knowledge of what was in her pocket made Betty Bunny happy. At dinner, after she had cleaned her plate, she reached into her pocket for her chocolate cake, but all she found was “a brown, goopy mess” that made her cry.

After her mom explained to her that putting the cake in her pocket was not the same as being patient, she prepared another piece for the next day. In the morning, Betty Bunny remembered her lesson in patience—and that’s why she put the cake…in her sock.

Michael B. Kaplan’s adorable Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake is a delight from its beginning to its smashing ending. He hits all the right notes in this humorous family drama, from the “helpful” siblings to the hair-trigger tantrums to the Ramona Quimby-esque misunderstanding of phrase. Along with the giggle-inducing fun kids learn a bit about patience, and adults discover insight into what goes on in their little bunny’s mind when obsession meets disappointment.

Stéphane Jorisch’s Bunny family is as cute as…well…a bunny.  His watercolor, pen and ink, and gouche paintings employ brilliant color and crisp lines to depict the loving relationship among the siblings and parents as well as the realistic home and school environments. The perfectly drawn body language—including folded arms, sly looks, emotional meltdowns, and understanding smiles—will resonate with kids and adults alike. And once the piece of chocolate cake appears, it’s easy to see how little Betty Bunny could become such a fan.

Ages 3 – 7

Puffin Books, 2016 (paperback) | ISBN 978-1101998632

National Bake and Decorate Day

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Delicious Dot-to-Dot

 

Everything is better with chocolate—even this printable Delicious Dot-to-Dot! Get your pencils, follow the dots, and then color this delectable page!

Picture Book Review

August 11 – It’s National Sandwich Month

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About the Holiday

Most people are familiar with the story of how the Earl of Sandwich created the first sandwich and parlayed his invention to world-wide stature as it became part of nearly everyone’s daily routine. And it all got started during a card game in the British town of Sondwic, which became Sandwic, and finally Sandwice—which means “Market town on sandy soil.” Seems the Earl got hungry but didn’t want to get his cards stained with greasy fingerprints, so he ordered his meat between slices of bread, and a new culinary star was born. Celebrate this month’s holiday by trying some of the many types of sandwiches made popular in various regions of the country and areas around the world!

Sam’s Sandwich

By David Pelham

 

With a gleam in his eye, Sam entreats his sister to grab the bread and butter to make a sandwich. Starving and eager to “raid the pantry,” Sam’s sis urges her brother to slather on the butter. “‘Don’t worry, Sis.’” Sam smirks. “‘You’ll never / eat a tastier sandwich…ever!” But perhaps Sam’s eyes glint a little too much. While Samantha celebrates the crispy greenness of the lettuce leaves, “as a tasty little filler, / Sam popped in a… [caterpillar].”

Next Samantha adds “big tomatoes, red and round, / while in the garden Sam had dug / a hole and found a slimy…” (What do you think? Yes—“slug”). Another layer sports cheese and ants, topped with watercress and a creepy fly. Cucumber makes any sandwich yummy, but Sam’s wiggly worm? That’s kind of crummy.

Watching the sandwich grow, Samantha can hard wait to dig in: “‘Add some hard-boiled eggs as well.’ / Samantha drooled and cracked a shell. / But Sam had seen a silver trail / that led him to a crunchy…” (shall we say it together?—“snail”). A spider rests in the pile of salami, and in the tier of onion rings, Sam gets creative, plopping down a small tadpole.

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Copyright David Pelham, 2015, courtesy of candlewick.com

Samantha pronounces the sandwich finished, and with a flourish sauces it up with a squirt of ketchup. “But Sam still felt that it might need / a creepy-crawly… [centipede].” Even though Samantha is licking her lips, she remembers the beloved sibling who helped her build such sustenance. As she reached “toward the plate and grabbed the bread, / “‘Would you like some, Sam?’ she said.”

Magnanimous to the end, Sam begs off: “‘I’m full. I’m stuffed. I really am. / so you can have it all,’” said Sam.”

This edition, published for the 25th anniversary of David Pelham’s classic book of sibling trickery, is pure fun and eye-poppingly realistic. Opening the thick “bread” cover reveals layer after layer of sandwich fixin’s on the right hand side. The bright images of tomatoes, boiled eggs, lettuce, cucumbers, and the rest of the ingredients look good enough to eat—until readers fold out the edges to discover Sam’s special additions. The rhyming text is ingenious and sly, begging kids to shout out the name of the creature Sam has sprinkled into Samantha’s lunch.

Guaranteed to make kids laugh, Sam’s Sandwich is a terrific addition to a child’s bookshelf for home story times and take-along reading.

Ages 3 – 8

Candlewick, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763678081

Check out what lurks between the bread in this Sam’s Sandwich book trailer!

National Sandwich Month Activity 

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Scrumptious Sandwiches Word Scramble 

 

Sandwiches are fun to build and delicious to eat! The only hard part is trying to figure out which kind to have. Maybe this list will help! Print this Scrumptious Sandwiches Puzzle and unscramble the names to pick your favorite. Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review