April 19 – Banana Day

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About the Holiday

It seems people are somewhat split on this most appealing holiday—is it a day for enjoying the tasty tropical fruit or a day for goofing off? Why not do both?! Bananas offer plenty of nutrition and flavor in their own tidy, take-along package, and they’ve been the subject of humorous skits as long as people have been tossing the peels to the ground. Today, grab a bunch and head out to have some fun at a park, playground, shoreline, or even back deck near you!  

Bananas in My Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddles, and Rhymes

Written by Michael Rosen | Illustrated by Quentin Blake

 

Things may go from the ridiculous to the sublime or from the sublime to the ridiculous, but the rhymes, stories, poems, and jokes in this collection are both ridiculous and sublime. Divided into four sections—The Breakfast Book, The Seaside Book, The Doctor Book, and The Bedtime Book—these bite-sized tales will nibble at your funny bone.

Each book includes six to seven short pieces that humorously reveal the inner workings of familial and community relationships. Recurring titles “What if…,” “Things We Say,” and “Nat and Anna” sibling stories tie the books together. The tone for Bananas in My Ears is set with aplomb in the very first offering, “Breakfast Time,” which reveals the chaos of early morning with its spilled milk, banging trash cans, pets on the table, school clothes ruined, and “I think I’m going crazy!” shenanigans. 

“What If…” (Breakfast Book) combines kids’ natural penchant for rhyming with their unbounded imagination and a bit of stream-of-consciousness to boot. Just as a little boy is to bite into a piece of toast, he has this thought: “What if / a piece of toast turned into a piece of ghost / just as you were eating it / and you thought you were going to sink your / teeth into a lovely crunchy piece of hot toast / and butter and instead this cold wet feeling / jumps into your mouth / going, / ‘Whoooooooooooooooooooo!’ / right down into your stomach…”

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Image copyright Quentin Blake, text copyright Michael Rosen, 2012. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Adding speech bubbles and expressive art to commonly used phrases in “Things We Say” transforms throw-off lines like “My hair’s a mess,” “Look what I found,” “You can’t lie there all morning,” and “Now what seems to be the trouble?” into self-deprecating humor all can relate to.

Four stories of Nat and his older sister Anna zero in on particular moments that illuminate the sibling relationship, At once opposed and in sync, Nat and Anna negotiate moments in which Anna is put in charge of watching Nat at breakfast with topsy-turvy results; a frightening story that Anna tells Nat about jellyfish somehow backfires; a trip to the doctor turns into a competition about future professions; and a “who’s-on-first” type banter allows Anna to enjoy some alone time.

“Three Girls” is a clever take on outwitting-an-ogre tales. Three girls walking on the beach come across a cave. One girl goes in and “sees a pile of gold sitting on the rocks, so she thinks, ‘Yippee, gold, all for me!’ And she steps forward to pick it up and a great big voice booms out ‘I’m the ghost of Captain Cox. All that gold stays on the rocks.’” Afraid, she runs out of the cave. The second girl is braver. She enters the cave, sees the gold, hears the same booming voice and is also chased away. Undeterred, the third girl walks into the cave, sees the gold, and hears the booming voice of Captain Cox. Instead of running away, however, she says, “‘I don’t care. I’m the ghost of Davy Crocket, and all that gold goes in my pocket.’” With her treasure secured she hightails it out to join her friends.

Among other fun stories in this volume are: “These Two Children,” with a lively recitation of familiar bedtime routines; “Fooling Around,” that offers light rhymes on children’s names; and another “What If” (the Breakfast Book) that will have kids cracking up —“What if / hard-boiled eggs turned into hard-boiled legs / just when your dad was eating his egg / and he says, / ‘Hey, what’s this?’…”

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Image copyright Quentin Blake, text copyright Michael Rosen, 2012. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Michael Rosen understands, as kids do, that sometimes nonsense makes perfect sense and that even the commonplace is quite absurd when you think about it. This collection of witticisms is sure to resonate with children. Just hand a child this book and get ready for giggles—and, oh yes, adults will chuckle too.

In his colorful pen and ink drawings the inimitable Quentin Blake enlivens each piece with rakish kids, wide-eyed parents, sloppy messes, bouncing, jumping joy, and all the silliness that contributes to having a great day. “An accident waiting to happen” doesn’t begin to describe the bedlam ensuing in “What Happens Next?” as each character and object is set up to play their part in an oh-so-human game of dominoes. Kids will love seeing themselves and the world around them so candidly drawn, and adults will appreciate the whimsical sophistication of the same.

Ages 5 and up

Candlewick Press, 2012 | ISBN 978-0763662486

Banana Day Activity

celebrate-picture=books-picture-book-review-allrecipes.com-banana-banana-bread-recipe

Banana Banana Bread recipe, courtesy of allrecipes.com.

Banana Banana Bread

 

How can you go wrong with a recipe that includes so many bananas they have to be listed twice in the name? You can’t! This simple, yet delicious banana bread from Allrecipes satisfies the munchies at breakfast or snack time! Try it toasted—you’ll be sure to cheer B-A-N-A-N-A-S! Click here to begin enjoying Allrecipes Banana Banana Bread.

Picture Book Review

April 16 – Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day

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About the Holiday

Forget about Casual Friday, Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day offers much more in the way of comfort and coziness—as those who work from home well know! A little research on pajamas finds that the word derives from a Persian term for “leg garment.” Draw string pants were popular in Southwest Asia and were brought to the attention of other areas of the world by British colonials. The Western world adopted these comfy pants in the 1800s, and since then bed wear has become softer, more flexible, and more colorful. To celebrate today, wear your favorite jammies to work—and don’t forget your teddy bear!

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.

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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.

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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!’”

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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!

Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day Activity

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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

April 10 – National Siblings Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-coverAbout the Holiday

National Siblings Day gives people a chance to honor the special bond they have with their brothers and/or sisters. Whether you come from a big family or small, are the oldest, youngest, or somewhere in between, your siblings have had a big influence on your life. Today, take a little time to text or call if you live far apart or get together if the miles aren’t so many.

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.

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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.  

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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 a 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!

National Siblings Day Activity

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

Snakes and Ladders Game

 

It can be fun to play a board game with your sibling! 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

January 28 – Blueberry Pancake Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-more-blueberries-cover About the Holiday

If you love pancakes dotted with luscious blueberries then today is for you! Do you have blueberries in your freezer, frozen fresh from the summer harvest? Then this is the perfect reason to bring them out for a delicious breakfast! If not stop by a store and get a pint—pancakes are great for dinner too!

More Blueberries!

Written by Susan Musgrave | Illustrated by Esperança Melo

 

When the blueberries are ripe, the siblings in this adorable picture book live in a blueberry world. The brother and sister are all smiles with their bowl full of berries, and soon they have “Blueberry cheeks, blueberry chin. / Blueberry teeth, blueberry grin. / Blueberry fingers, blueberry nose. / Blueberry lips, blueberry toes.” Oops! After all that yummy, tasty blueberry gobbling, the bowl is empty, eliciting a call for “More Blueberries!”

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Image copyright Esperança Melo, text copyright Susan Musgrave. Courtesy esperancamelo.blogspot.ca

The scrumptious berries find their way into pancakes, muffins, mush, and slush, ice cream, cake—and even cause a bit of an ache. But with a small burp, the cry goes out for MORE BLUEBERRIES! The kids aren’t the only ones who love the season’s fruit—a cat chases them as they roll away, and a cawing crow carries one in its beak like the finest of pearls.

Frogs hop on blueberries with a pop and a splat while teddy bears gulp them down in no time flat. “Meow,” says the cat. “Caw,” says the crow. “Ribbit,” says the frog, and “Grrrrrrr,” says the bear as they all shout for MORE BLUEBERRIES!

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Image copyright Esperança Melo, text copyright Susan Musgrove. Courtesy of Orca Book Publishers

But the day is waning and while bath time beckons there’s still more time to turn bathwater blue, sail berries in a tug, wash with blueberry soap and blueberry shampoo. Finally it’s nightime with “Blueberry jammies, / blueberry yawn. / Blueberry bedtime, / blueberries gone.” As the little girl and boy drift off to sleep to dream about blueberries, they snuggle with their teddy bear and froggy toys, leave their crow book until tomorrow, and sleep peacefully under the watchful eye of their cat.

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Image copyright Esperança Melo, text copyright Susan Musgrave. Courtesy of esperancamelo.blogspot.ca

Susan Musgrave’s irresistibly catchy rhymes burst with flavor and will make More Blueberries a favorite story time read for young children. The repeated “blueberry” (such a wonderfully alliterative word!) will capture kids’ imagination and give them the pleasure of reading along even at very early ages. Beyond the fun of the blueberry theme, this book makes an entertaining concept book to teach parts of the body, food, and clothing.

Esperança Melo’s endearing illustrations perfectly depict the messy, delicious, enthusiasm small children develop for certain foods or objects. The sister with her curly mass of brown hair and her brother with spiky blond hair are human canvases of blueberry-painted faces, hands, and feet while their infectious grins display stained teeth and tongues. Their household surroundings are appropriately blue, and even their pets and toys get in on the action.

More Blueberries would be a sweet addition to any child’s book shelf, one that is sure to be asked for again and again!

Ages Birth – 4

Orca Book Publishers, Board book, 2015  ISBN 978-1459807075 | Paperback, 2017 ISBN 9781459815056

Visit Esperança Melo’s website to view her illustrations and paintings portfolio!

To learn more about Susan Musgrave’s books for children and adults visit her website!

Blueberry Pancake Day Activity

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Flip for Pancakes Word Search Puzzle

 

Flipping pancakes is the best part of making this delicious breakfast—except for eating it! Can you find 20 pancake-related words in this printable Flip for Pancakes Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

January 25 – A Room of One’s Own Day

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About the Holiday

Everyone needs a little space of their own—a place to think, read, write, or just say Ahhhh… after a long day. In today’s world of Man Caves and Women’s Sheds, designing a spot where you can get away and spend some rejuvenating alone time doing a particular hobby or just doing nothing is becoming easier and more accepted. Kids need their own spaces too—a personal place surrounded by the things they love.

My Very Own Room / Mi propio cuartito

Written by / Escrito por Amada Irma Pérez | Illustrated by / Ilustrado por Maya Christina Gonzalez

 

One morning a little girl woke up in a bed overrun with brothers. Victor’s elbow was poking her in the ribs, and Mario was curled up on the pillow with his leg across her face. In the next bed slept the girl’s three other brothers. The girl had had enough—after all she was nearly 9 years old. After years of sharing a room with her five brothers, “more than anything in the whole world [she] wanted a room of [her] own,” but space in her tiny house was hard to come by. What’s more, besides the eight immediate family members, sometimes friends and relatives from Mexico came to stay. It could be fun, but there was no privacy.

To get away she sometimes crept out early in the morning and climbed “the crooked ladder that leaned against the elm tree” in her backyard. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her brothers, she just needed a place of her own. She looked around the house for a space that would be just right. She peeked behind the flour-sack curtain that divided the living room from the storage closet. It seemed perfect! She imagined it with her “own bed, table, and lamp—a place where she could read the books she loved, write in her diary, and dream.”

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Image copyright Maya Christina Gonzalez, courtesy of Lee & Low Books

While the storage nook seemed the solution, the girl’s mother shook her head. The space was already assigned to her aunt’s sewing machine, her uncle’s garden tools, furniture, and old clothes—the things needed for others to make a better life in America. But then her mother saw the tears in her daughter’s eyes and decided that perhaps the things in the storage space could find a new home on the back porch with blankets and a tarp to protect them from the weather.

With a hug and a kiss, the little girl thanked her mother, and they and the five boys began rearranging the house. Finally, all that was left behind the flour-sack curtain were a few cans of leftover paint. There was blue, white, and pink, but not enough of any one color to paint the room. Suddenly, the girl had an idea. She and her brothers mixed the three together and made…magenta! Tío Pancho offered a spare bed and after measuring the room and then the bed with a piece of yellow yarn, the little girl discovered that the bed would indeed fit. An upended wooden crate became a nightstand. But what about a lamp?

Mamá brought out her box of Blue Chip stamps that she’d been collecting for years. The stamps were awarded with gas and food purchases. When they were stuck into booklets and used at special stores, the stamps were as good as money. The girl and her brothers “licked and licked and pasted and pasted.” When they were finished, they all went to the stamp store. As soon as she stepped into the store, the girl spied the lamp she wanted. “It was as dainty as a beautiful ballerina, made of white ceramic glass with a shade that had ruffles around the top and bottom.”

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Image copyright Maya Christina Gonzalez, courtesy of Lee & Low Books

Back home she carefully set the lamp on her bedside table, but “something was still missing, the most important thing…Books!” The next day the little girl brought home six books from the library—six was her “lucky number because there were six children” in her family. That night, the little girl nestled into her new room, turned on the light and began to read. When her two youngest brothers peered in through the curtain, she invited them in, and as they snuggled on her bed, she read them a story. At the end they said goodnight, and her brothers returned to their own room. Lying back against her pillow, the girl felt “like the luckiest, happiest little girl in the whole world” because each person in her family had worked to make her wish come true. She drifted off into peaceful sleep under a “blanket of books” in her very own room.

Amada Irma Pérez’s touching story from her own childhood is a delightful reminder for readers of the strong bonds of family love that puts other’s needs ahead of one’s own. The family’s commitment to each other is found not only in their willingness to help rearrange the house to accommodate a maturing daughter and sibling, but in the collection and storage of goods that will contribute to a better life for friends and relatives. Children familiar with reward points will be fascinated to learn about their predecessor “blue chip stamps.” The straightforward storytelling is infused with the kinds of hopes and suspense that resonate with kids, and the tender, quiet ending leaves readers with a lingering feeling of comfort and happiness.

Maya Christina Gonzalez fills the pages of My Very Own Room with joyous vibrancy and empathy that emphasizes the family’s connection. Soft edges and swirling patterns create a comforting environment, while elements, such as the long piece of yellow yarn, underscore the familial ties. While the little girl finds solace in the backyard elm tree and hunts for a space to call her own, her mother looks on with understanding, which leads to depictions of mother and daughter that are particularly moving. With warmth and welcome, each page invites readers into the family home to share a transitional event in their life.

The text is presented in both English and Spanish on each page, and is followed by a brief biographical note, including photographs, by Amada Irma Pérez.

It’s heartening to read a story in which siblings are so immediately supportive of each other. The gentle pace and upbeat tenor of My Very Own Room makes it a wonderful choice for quiet family story times or group school or library readings.

Ages 5 – 10

Lee & Low Books, 2008 | ISBN 978-0892392230

Learn more about Amada Irma Pérez and her books on her website!

Discover a gallery of book illustration and fine art by Maya Christina Gonzalez plus resources for educators on her website!

A Room of One’s Own Day Activity

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Decorate Your Room Coloring Page

 

If you had a room to fix up just the way you’d like, how would it look? Here’s a printable Decorate Your Room Coloring Page for you to enjoy. Put your own knick-knacks on the shelf and your things on the nightstand by the bed. Then give your room a color scheme – and move in!

Picture Book Review

January 21 – Hugging Day

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About the Holiday

This is one of those lovely, simple holidays that’s just what it seems. So go ahead and hug someone today.

Hug it Out!

By Louis Thomas

 

With rain pelting the windows, brother and sister Woody and Annie were playing inside. Woody was building an airport while Annie was creating a town from blocks. Everything was going great “until…they both reached for the car.” Then a tug-of-war began. Woody “wanted the car to pick up travelers from his airport” and Annie needed a little traffic in her town. They both yelled for Mom, who made them promise to be better sharers. Woody and Annie agreed with a pinky swear.

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Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

But the sharing didn’t last long. Time with the car seemed unfair, and then there was the name-calling: Annie called Woody a “‘dumb-dumb,’” and Woody retaliated with “‘ding-dong,’” and they both called for “‘Mommm….’” Mom returned with coffee in hand and requested that Annie and Woody apologize to each other. A couple of mumbles later, Mom proclaimed it “‘Good enough’” until little feet started getting involved, and cries of “‘Ow!’” and “‘Quit it!’” filled the air. And…oh yeah… “‘Mommmm!’”

Mom had had enough! This time she laid down the law, and Woody and Annie—eyes wide in and hands to their cheeks in horror—heard her say, “From now on, any time you argue, you’re going to have to…HUG IT OUT.’” Annie and Woody were flummoxed, confused, perplexed. Mom pushed them together cheek to cheek to demonstrate, and with frowny faces and stiff arms, they hugged.

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Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Still, the chasing— “‘Hug it out!’” —the hair pulling— “‘Hug it out!’” —the squabbling— “‘Hug it out!’” —and the wrestling— “‘HUG IT OUT!’” (this time with stuck-out tongues) continued. Finally, Annie confessed that she couldn’t “‘take one more hug,’” and Woody agreed. The two went back to playing—apart. Woody flew his planes, and Annie took care of her town. “And they both found a way to play with the car.”

After a while they looked at each other with an unexpected realization. “‘Mommmm!’ Annie screamed. ‘Mommmm!’ Woody screamed louder.” And their mom answered “‘HUG IT OUT!’” And with big smiles, “they did.”

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Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Louis Thomas is onto something in this timely, sibling-rivalry story. Kids—and adults—will recognize the realistic dialogue and circumstances that makes Hug It Out! a laugh-out-loud tug at the heart. Thomas’s positive “punishment” is a clever solution to those sister and brother squabbles and might inspire parents and caregivers to give it a try. Readers will love shouting out “Mommm!” and “Hug it Out!” in this perfect—and perfectly fun—read-along. Thomas’s bright-eyed, straw-haired siblings are adorable, and kids will giggle to see the two smooshed together in a forced hug that becomes closer and closer with every attempt to make up and later becomes a sought-out part of the day.

With it’s wry take on the daily travails of sister- and brotherhood, Hug It Out! would make an amusing addition to home bookshelves—one that might reached for with every “Mommm!” 

Ages 3 – 7

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017 | ISBN 978-0374303143

To view galleries of illustration work by Louis Thomas, visit his blog and tumblr!

Hugging Day Activity

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Warm Hugs Neck Warmer or Pillow

Supplies

  • Knee sock or tall crew sock
  • 2 knit gloves
  • Fiber Fill (for pillow and mittens)
  • Uncooked rice (for neck warmer)
  • Thread
  • Needle

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Directions

For Pillow

  1. Fill knee sock or crew sock with fiber fill
  2. Sew open end of sock closed 
  3. Fill knit gloves with fiber fill
  4. Sew one mitten to each end of the sock 
  5. Curve sock pillow around neck and relax!

For Neck Warmer

  1. Fill knee sock with uncooked rice
  2. Sew open end of sock closed
  3. Fill knit mittens with fiber fill
  4. Sew one mitten to each end of the sock
  5. Heat in microwave for 1 minute and then in 30-second increments until desired warmth

Picture Book Review

 

 

 

December 5 – International Ninja Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s celebration remembers and honors the ninja warriors of China and Japan who with stealth and their signature black clothing could appear and vanish “like a hawk on stolen wings” to defeat their opponents. It was rumored that they were masters of Kuji-Kiri, an eastern magical practice that allowed them to combine their natural ability to move undetected with supernatural powers. The original ninja came from the Iga province of Japan and were made up of regular citizens. Their weapons were those of farmers, making it easier for them to be explained away and these warriors to escape exposure. The black clothing that we now associate with the ninja came from the theater, where the “invisibility” of the common-man warrior was represented by stage hands playing the parts of the ninja. To conceal themselves from the audience, stage hands wore black costumes that blended in with the black background curtains. When they became part of the play, theater-goers were taken by surprise. Today, ninja remain popular characters in movies and books, and especially with children.

Ninja! Attack of the Clan

By Arree Chung

 

Maxwell is dressed in his ninja best, pool cue at the ready. Now all he needs is a “worthy opponent.” He leaps into the kitchen where his mom’s making a salad. “HI-YA!” But when he asks if his mom wants to play, she tells him she’s too busy. He turns to his sister. “BOOYAH! Cassy, want to play with me?” he asks. “I working,” she answers from behind the tall building she’s constructing from blocks. Disappointed, Maxwell searches out his dad in his office.

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Copyright 2016 Arree Chung, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

“Papa!” Maxwell exclaims. “Yes, Maxwell…,” Papa says, flipping through the file cabinet. Want to play hide-and-seek with me?” Maxwell asks. “Yes, Maxwell,” Papa says, studying the income tax form in his hand. “OKAY!!! I’ll hide, you seek.” Maxwell shouts as he runs out of the room. “Yes, Maxwell,” Papa says, opening the tax program on the computer.

Maxwell tries out various hiding places, but none seem ninja-worthy. Then he spies the bed. Concealing himself underneath, he waits for Papa to find him…and waits. Finally, he hears a thump, thump, thump, and giggles with anticipation. But it’s only Brutus sniffing him out. Time goes by and still no Papa. Maxwell shouts out an anti-clue, but still nothing happens. At last Maxwell leaves his hiding place and goes back to his dad’s office, where Papa is still sitting in front of the computer. “Hey, you never came looking for me,” Maxwell says. But his dad is too distracted to hear him. Maxwell heads out with a dejected, “Forget it.”

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Copyright Arree Chung, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

To recover from disappointment, Maxwell knows “a ninja must practice the art of meditation and find inner peace.” But even here his bad day continues. When he’s called for dinner he skips out to the dining room, but no one is at the table except Brutus, who is gulping down Maxwell’s soup. Suddenly, Brutus barks a warning. From behind comes a “surprise attack!” “Defend yourself,” orders Papa. With a flick of his finger, Maxwell secures his mask and goes to work, poking Papa in the belly. His dad comes back with an awesome bear hug, but Maxwell deftly somersaults out of his arms. With lightning speed he whips his jump rope across the room and ties up Papa.

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Copyright 2016 Arree Chung, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Next comes his mom, wielding her yellow bag. Maxwell leaps over the flying purse and retrieves its lost lipstick, which he slathers on in preparation for the “kiss of death!” Covered in red lip marks, Maxwell’s mom joins his father in defeat. Cassy, however, is harder to pin down. She sneaks behind him and in one swift move covers his eyes with his own headband and applies a dastardly “SLURP!” Stunned, Maxwell admits, “I’ve been licked.” Still—as the battle continues to wage—Maxwill declares, “I love my ninja clan!”

In Ninja! Attack of the Clan, Arree Chung’s cute sequel to Ninja!, Maxwell just wants to play with his family but is disappointed as each is too busy to take notice. Maxwell’s dilemma is handled with honesty and humor that will resonate with kids. The end of the story in which Maxwell’s family executes the perfect remedy for his bad day is touching and will have kids cheering for this enthusiastic ninja. Chung’s bold, vibrant cartoon-inspired panels perfectly carry the high-action parts of the story, while full-page illustrations slow things down a bit to embrace family time.

Ages 4 – 7

Henry Holt, 2016 | ISBN 978-0805099164

For little ninjas there’s so much to see and do on Arree Chung’s website, including fun activities, a video, more about the characters, a gallery of ninja art by kids, and even a place where they can “ninjafy” pictures of themselves!

International Ninja Day Activity

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Stealthy Ninja Maze

 

Two ninja have been separated from their group! Can you help them find their way back in this printable Stealthy Ninja Maze?

Picture Book Review