August 29 – It’s Back to School Month

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About the Holiday

Well, Monday is Labor Day, and the official ending of summer. While the carefree (or were they even more hectic?) days of summer vacation are coming to a close, a new school year is just beginning. Make this one the best yet by talking with your kids about their day and your day. Taking time to read together—no matter how old your kids are—is another way to build bonds. Why not start with today’s funny and insightful book!

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

By Ryan T. Higgins

 

Penelope Rex was nervous about her first day of school. She wondered whether her classmates would be nice and how many teeth they would have. Her mom had gotten her a backpack decorated with ponies, and her dad had made three-hundred tuna sandwiches for her lunch. Both of these made Penelope smile because both ponies and tuna were delicious.

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2018, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

On the first day of school, Penelope walked into her classroom only to discover that “all of her classmates were CHILDREN! Penelope loved children! “Because children are delicious.” Right away Penelope ate them all up. Her teacher, Mrs. Noodleman, was not happy and told Penelope to “‘Please spit them out at once!’” Deposited back on the carpet, the saliva-covered kids were not too happy either.

Penelope tried to be good on the playground, during creative time, and at lunch, but she couldn’t help trying to eat the other kids. She couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t making any friends. When she got home, though, and told her dad, he had a pretty good idea why she’d been so lonely.

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2018, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Her dad told her that eating children made it hard to make friends. Penelope thought and thought about this. The next day she tried to keep her teeth to herself, but the kids really were so delicious that Penelope just had to take a bite. The kids were terrified. The only one who didn’t run away from her was Walter, the class goldfish. Penelope tried to be friends, but when she poked her finger into his bowl—“CHOMP!”

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2018, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Penelope screamed and then she cried. She didn’t like being Walter’s snack and suddenly realized why the kids didn’t like her. The whole experience ruined her appetite for children, but she discovered that once she stopped eating them, the kids wanted to be her friend. Sometimes, the children still look a little tantalizing, but when that happens Penelope just “peeks at Walter and remembers what it’s like when someone tries to eat you.” And Walter? He “stares right back and licks his lips. Because dinosaurs are delicious.”

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2018, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

With We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, Higgins dips his pen into the Edward Gorey pool of gloriously grisly storytelling that so delights kids. If you want children to laugh out loud, respond with “Ewww!” and “Yuck!” and then laugh some more during story time, you’ll want to pick up this book. Kids will give Penelope plenty of “Awwws!” too as she tries so hard to understand why her classmates are afraid as well as to overcome her natural instincts and love for a tasty snack. In an unexpected and hilarious twist, goggle-eyed Walter inadvertently teaches Penelope a few valuable lessons.

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Higgins’ little yellow dino in pink overalls is adorable as she revels in her pony backpack, hopes for a child-sized treat, and plays with new friends. Her sad eyes and bewildered expression after a day at school will spark plenty of empathy too. Penelope’s classmates are a most welcome representation of diversity, and her classroom—with two cozy reading nooks—is as cool as it gets.

For back to school and all year through, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates will be a favorite on home bookshelves and in classroom libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

Disney-Hyperion, 2018 | ISBN 978-1368003551

To learn more about Ryan T. Higgins, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Back-to-School Month Activity

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Books to Love, Books to Read Book Bag

 

Are the kids going back to school? Then they need a bag to carry their favorite books and stuff in! This easy-to-make book bag—recycled from the cloth bag sheet sets come in—makes a perfect kid-sized bag for taking to the library or after-school activities! 

Supplies

  • Printable Templates: Books to Read Template | Books to Love Template
  • Small cloth bag, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the bag that sheet sets now come in
  • Cloth trim or strong ribbon, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the cloth handles from shopping bags provided from some clothing stores
  • Scraps of different colored and patterned cloth. Or use quilting squares, available at craft and sewing stores
  • Pen or pencil for tracing letters onto cloth
  • Scissors
  • Small sharp scissors (or cuticle scissors) for cutting out the center of the letters
  • Fabric glue
  • Thread (optional)
  • Needle (optional)

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Directions

    1. Print the sayings and cut out the letters
    2. Trace letters onto different kinds of cloth
    3. Cut out cloth letters
    4. Iron cloth bag if necessary
    5. Attach words “Books to Read” to one side of bag with fabric glue
    6. Attach words “Books to Love” to other side of bag with fabric glue
    7. Cut cloth trim or ribbon to desired length to create handles
    8. Glue (or sew) handles onto the inside edge of bag

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You can find We Don’t Eat Our Classmates at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

July 16 – World Snake Day

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About the Holiday

Of all the creatures in the animal kingdom, none may inspire such fierce emotions as snakes. And while there are plenty of species that rightly strike fear into people’s hearts, there are also many snakes that are beautiful and mild-mannered. As predators, snakes play a vital role in providing balance in the ecosystem. More than 3, 458 species are found in every part of the world, including frozen tundras and deep oceans, but habitat destruction, pollution, and other dangers threaten their population. To celebrate today’s holiday, read up on snakes or watch a documentary about these fascinating creatures. You may find yourself embracing them – just maybe not as much as the star of today’s book!

Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard (Wee Beasties Series)

Written by Ame Dyckman | Illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths

 

Huggy the Python LOVES a lot of things. And he “LOVES to hug the things he loves.” It’s just that Huggy is missing a bit of …well… hug control. When he sees something he loves—like a balloon—he rushes over and gently, gently wraps himself around it. But, really, one more little squeeze won’t hurt, right? Oh dear! “Pop! Oops! You hugged too hard, Huggy.”

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Image copyright Alex Griffiths, 2018, text copyright Ame Dyckman. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Maybe some ice cream will turn that frown upside down. Okay, spoon’s at the ready… so far so good. A little scoop… Yummm! That bowl needs just a leeetle hug. Oh no! What a mess! There’s even whipped cream and a cherry on top of Huggy’s very tall top hat! Perhaps a “fuzzy little dog” will cheer him up. Huggy’s all ready to give that puppy a hug when—“WAIT!” Maybe the reader can “show Huggy how to be gentle.” That’s right! So sweet!

Now it’s Huggy’s turn to show what he learned. Huggy looks a little uncertain as he stares down into those big puppy dog eyes. But he picks the puppy up and snuggles “just right.” But that tube of toothpaste in his tail? Well, you’ll see!

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Image copyright Alex Griffiths, 2018, text copyright Ame Dyckman. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Part of Ame Dyckman’s new Wee Beasties series of social skills board books—which includes Roary the Lion Roars Too Loud and Touchy the Octopus Touches Everything—Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard addresses the penchant of little ones to show just how full of love their heart really is. Combining examples that will elicit giggles, wording that prompts fun dramatic readings that toddlers can easily join in on, and a page that allows kids to practice giving just the right squeeze, Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard gently teaches restraint in a story little ones will want to read again and again.

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Alex G. Griffiths’ Huggy is a dapper cutie with his blue scarf, feathered top hat, and big, ready smile. As he whips over to show the balloon how much he loves it or cozies up to a tall dish of ice cream, his enthusiasm is infectious, but a POP! and a SQUISH! later that happy grin is a full-on frown. When Huggy wants to show some love to the little puppy, it’s up to readers to show him how it’s done. And no little one will be able to resist giving the book a snuggle when they see the sweet puppy’s outstretched arms! Griffiths’ cleverly uses nearly identical imagery when the balloon and the ice cream succumb to Huggy’s squeeze in order to show young readers the unwanted consequence of over-zealous hugs. The smiles all around when Huggy and the puppy connect just right will have little ones smiling too—and ready to give plenty of hugs.

Offering a peppy, playful way to teach young children how to hug pets, babies, friends, and even their toys as well an opportunity to discuss various emotions, Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard would be a favorite addition to any toddler’s home bookshelf and a terrific choice for daycare, preschool, and kindergarten libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Little Simon, 2018 | ISBN 978-1534410800    

Discover more about Ame Dyckman and her books on her website.

To learn more about Alex G. Griffiths, his books, and his art, visit his website.

World Snake Day Activity

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Goodness Snakes! Matching Puzzle

 

These twin snakes slithered away from each other! Can you match them up again in this printable Goodness Snakes! Matching Puzzle?

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You can find Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard  at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

June 1 – National Say Something Nice Day

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About the Holiday

Starting off the month of June with a compliment, encouragement, or praise for the people in your life can only make the summer brighter for everyone. In today’s world where too often bullying and negativity are evident, a single nice word or action can make a tremendous difference in how people feel about themselves and those around them. To celebrate today’s holiday, look for opportunities to say something nice to your family members, friends, and those you meet during the day. But don’t just make this a one-day thing, whenever you see that you can share a smile or a laugh, tell someone they’re doing a good job, or help out—do it!

Be Kind

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller | Illustrated by Jen Hill

 

At school during snack time when Tanisha spilled grape juice on her new dress, the class burst out laughing. One student remembered that their mom always taught them to be kind and tried to make Tanisha feel better by saying, “Purple is my favorite color.” The student thought Tanisha would smile, but she just ran away. All during art class, Tanisha’s classmate thought about what they should have done instead, wondering, “What does it mean to be kind anyway?”

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Image copyright Jen Hill, 2018, text copyright Pat Zietlow Miller, 2018. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

They think, “Maybe it’s giving.” Like baking treats for someone who lives alone, or giving away old clothes to someone who can use them. Helping out might also show kindness. For instance, “putting dirty dishes in the sink” or taking care of a pet. Paying attention to others could be another way to show you care. Like noticing someone’s new shoes, offering to be the new girl’s partner in class, or even just listening to someone’s stories—even if you’ve heard them before. Sometimes being kind is easy, but there are other times when it can be challenging or even scary—“like sticking up for someone when other kids aren’t kind.”

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Image copyright Jen Hill, 2018, text copyright Pat Zietlow Miller, 2018. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

The child decides that maybe all they can do for Tanisha is to sit near her and paint her a picture of purple and green—of pretty violets. They hope that small acts like these will join with other people’s and that they will expand, fanning out from school into the community, across the country, around the world, and back. “So we can be kind. Again. And again. And again.”

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Image copyright Jen Hill, 2018, text copyright Pat Zietlow Miller, 2018. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Miller’s tender prose is perfect for planting the seeds of kindness and opening discussions about what it means to be caring and compassionate. With more and more children speaking up and creating change, Miller’s gentle and affirming story shows readers that it’s often the little things that count the most. Some of the examples she gives are acts that many children may do already, confirming their innate sensitivity, while others may spark new ideas and expand readers’ definition of kindness.

Jen Hill’s soft-hued illustrations beautifully depict the emotional tug at the heart that Tanisha’s spilled grape juice sets in motion for the protagonist and young readers. As one caring child wonders what kindness really is, Hill clearly portrays diverse children helping out at home, at school, and in their community locally and—as the kindness spreads—around the world. Hill draws the caring student with gender neutral clothing and hair, allowing all children to relate to the story’s main character. 

Be Kind is a lovely perceptive and sensitive book that would be an asset to any home or classroom library.

Ages 3 – 6

Roaring Brook Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1626723214

Discover more about Pat Zietlow Miller and her books on her website.

To learn more about Jen Hill, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Say Something Nice Day Activity

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Say Something Nice! Cards

 

Do you want to give someone a nice surprise? Print out these cards and give one to a friend, to someone you’d like to know, or to anyone who looks like they need a pick-me-up! If you’d like to make your own cards, print out the blank template and write and/or draw your own message! You can also print these on adhesive paper and make your own stickers.

Say Something Nice! Cards | Say Something Nice! Cards Blank Template

Picture book review

May 30 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

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About the Holiday

Get Caught Reading Month was established in 1999 by the Association of American Publishers to encourage people of all ages to read more. Authors, illustrators, celebrities, athletes, and others participate by sharing pictures of themselves reading an old favorite or new book on social media. Schools, libraries, bookstores, and community venues hold special programs throughout the month. For more information and to find resources, visit the Get Caught Reading website.

Albie Newton

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Ester Garay

 

Albie Newton was something of a prodigy. As a tyke, he retrofitted his stroller into a racecar, tried counting to infinity, and “learned to speak a language almost every week: / English, Spanish, Hindi, Klingon, Gibberish, then Greek.” When he moves to a new town and a new school, his classmates are excited to meet him. Albie is also revved up to start making friends, and he has a plan he thinks the other kids will love.

But as they all settle in to work, “the students noticed Albie was a whiz. / Albie wrote a sonnet while they took a spelling quiz.” During art class, the kids were likewise astounded (and a little dismayed) when, while they scribbled, drew swirls, and made handprints, Albie painted like Van Gogh. When free time rolled around, and some kids played dress up, Albie “sifted through the trash,” to build a science lab, leaving a mess for Arjun to clean up.

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Image copyright Ester Garay, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Then things began to disappear. “Hamilton the hamster tried to run but had no wheel. / Albie needed extra sprockets made of stainless steel.” While Sona and Shirley created paper masks, the glue went missing, and Albie “didn’t even ask.” The wings from Dave’s propeller plane were suddenly broken off, and reading time became impossible when “booming pandemonium descended on the school.” Albie, though, intent on his invention, didn’t notice the trouble he was causing or the crowd of angry kids rushing to complain.

Before they could reach Albie, though, Shirley stopped them, saying “‘maybe Albie didn’t know. Let’s look at what he made.’ Curious, the children headed straight to where he played.” When they say all the inventions Albie had made, they stopped and stared. Albie had made the class a gift—a spaceship, and with the push of a button, an amazing time machine!

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Image copyright Ester Garay, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

With his inimitable style, Josh Funk creates a rambunctious tale of invention and creativity, but one that also has a deeper message about the way some kids see the world and communicate with peers and others. In the first pages, readers are introduced to the precocious Albie, who from birth has demonstrated a talent for learning and doing. When he enters a new school, however, his single focus doesn’t translate into the kinds of social interactions his classmates are used to. Albie gathers materials for his present unaware of the mayhem he’s causing, just as the other kids are unaware of Albie’s real goal. Only Shirley is sensitive to the idea that Albie may not be causing havoc on purpose but for a purpose. Her calming defense of Albie allows the other kids to see Albie in a new light and appreciate his gift—and his gifts.

While Funk’s rhyming verses are focusing on Albie and his actions, Ester Garay’s bright illustrations depict the other kids’ reactions to his talents and also his disruptions. A first hint at how Albie fits in with his new class comes as the kids welcome him with cheer and smiles. Instead of facing them to accept the welcome, Albie is faced away from them, happily imagining the gift he will make for them.

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Image copyright Ester Garay, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Throughout the day, Shirley follows Albie, and as she watches and wonders, her facial expressions demonstrate dismay at some of Albie’s antics but also a growing understanding and acceptance. Garay captures the close camaraderie of a preschool or kindergarten classroom, and her close-up view of Albie toiling away on his invention will have readers eager to see the result. The reveal of Albie’s spaceship time machine and the final spread of the kids frolicking on a distant planet with the likes of Freda Kahlo, William Shakespeare, Amelia Earhart, and a helpful dino, are sure to produce some oohs and ahhhs.

Albie Newton is a doubly impactful story that would be a welcome addition to home and, most especially, classroom bookshelves. It can be read as a boisterous story of innovation for lively story times, but it also provides adults and children an opportunity to discuss the ideas of social interaction and various personalities. Most children know someone like Albie who as naturally quiet, on the spectrum, or singularly focused on one area or another, communicates and socializes differently than others. Reading Albie Newton can help kids better understand different behaviors and, like Shirley, become more sensitive to all their classmates and friends.

Ages 5 – 9

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1454922582

Discover more about Josh Funk and his books as well as find fun activities and lots of resources on his website.

To learn more about Ester Garay, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Check out the Albie Newton book trailer!

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

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Initial Bookends

 

You can keep your books neat and tidy on the shelf with this easy-to-make bookend that displays your talents and personality!

Supplies

  • Wooden letter block in the child’s first initial or both initials
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Chalk
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden letter with the chalkboard paint, let dry
  2. With the chalk, write words that your think best describe you on the letter
  3. Display your letter on your bookshelf!

May 14 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

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About the Holiday

Reading is great all the time, but this month you like to be seen actually with the book in hand laughing at a funny line, shivering over a mysterious setting, or maybe even tearing up over a plot twist. Throughout the month, authors, illustrators, actors and actresses, athletes, business people, teachers, and students all upload pictures of themselves reading to encourage others to discover the joys of reading. To learn more and find resources for teachers and librarians to download and posters to order, visit the Get Caught Reading website.

Three Little Monkeys

Written by Quentin Blake | Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

 

Whenever Hilda Snibbs came home, the first thing she did was call out “‘I’m home! Where are you?’” You  might think she was talking to her kids, her dog, or her cat, but she was actually addressing her three little monkeys whose “names were Tim and Sam and Lulu.” Hilda was sure to give them healthy snacks because “they were very lively.”

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Copyright Emma Chichester Clark, 2016, courtesy of HarperCollins.

One day when Hilda went to the grocery store, the monkeys grew bored. They opened the hall closet and “threw everything into the hall.” They opened the umbrellas, tore the laces from all the shoes, and plucked all the feathers from Hilda’s favorite hat. When Hilda came home and saw the mess she had one thing to say: “‘I’m really very disappointed in such naughty little monkeys.” Tim, Sam, and Lulu just gazed at her silently.

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Image copyright Emma Chichester Clark, 2016, text copyright Quentin Blake, 2016. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

The next day Hilda went to the hat store. Before she left she told her little monkeys to be good. But as soon as she was out the door, they hurried to the living room to play. They upended the wastebasket, spilled the flower vase, tore the newspapers, and tangled Hilda’s knitting into knots. “When Hilda came home and went into the living room she found the most awful mess. There were flowers all over the place. And her poor knitting!” She admonished the little monkeys, but they just “looked at her with their big round eyes and said nothing.”

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Copyright Emma Chichester Clark, 2016, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Needing more wool, Hilda headed into town the next day with a reminder to her monkeys to be good while she was away. But the kitchen was so enticing, and they tossed everything out of the cupboards, scattered the powdered soap, emptied the trashcan, and tipped the soup pan onto the floor. This time when Hilda got home, she became angry. “‘Great grief! How long can I put up with these terrible little monkeys?’” But Tim, Sam, and Lulu just smiled at her.

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Copyright Emma Chichester Clark, 2016, courtesy of HarperCollins.

The next day was market day again and once again the monkeys grew bored as soon as Hilda was gone. The bathroom was a perfect playroom with its toilet paper to unroll, toothpaste tube to squeeze, and shampoo to splash around. Hilda nearly tore her hair out when she returned to this mayhem. As she stared at her monkeys wrapped in toilet paper and sporting sudsy costumes, she cried, “‘Oh, for a peaceful life without these wicked little monkeys!’”

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Copyright Emma Chichester Clark, 2016, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Before going out the next morning, Hilda gave Tim, Sam, and Lulu a stern talking to. It was late when she returned and as she stepped through the door something seemed amiss. The living room was in perfect order, the kitchen was spotless, and the bathroom shone. Hilda broke down in tears. Something horrible must have happened to her three little monkeys. Her handkerchief was soaked through, and when she went to the closet to get a new one, she found Tim, Sam, and Lulu waiting quietly for her.

Hilda hugged them all and “that night…went up the stairs to bed with a happy heart.” As she got under the covers, she found herself lying on all her forks, spoons, and cans of sardines. “But that is the kind of thing you have to expect if you have three little monkeys.”

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Copyright Emma Chichester Clark, 2016, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Quentin Blake’s hilarious tale of three little monkeys has all the charm and style of classic storytelling that will set young readers giggling and eagerly anticipating each of Hilda’s trips into town. Adults with “little monkeys” of their own will anticipate the tenderhearted ending, and children will be delighted with the assurance of enduring love Hilda’s tears provide. A dramatic reading of Hilda’s increasing frustration with her mischievous charges will enthrall listeners as they gaze at the reader with the same sweet expression as Tim, Sam, and Lulu.

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Copyright Emma Chichester Clark, 2016, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Emma Chichester Clark’s sophisticated illustrations begin on the endpapers, where Hilda is leaving her elegant brownstone under the watchful gaze of her little monkeys. Tim, Sam, and Lulu are as cute as can be as they happily eat their snack and give a hint of the shenanigans to come. With each new day, the monkeys get into more and more trouble, leading to wonderful, fully detailed two-page masterpieces of the mayhem they cause. Hilda’s growing consternation is clear in her facial expressions and gestures. Kids will love Hilda’s collection of hats and matching outfits and scenes of her home. When Hilda comes home to a pristine house, the brightly colored pages turn as gray as a cloudy day. The sunny hues return with the discovery of her precious little ones, and the bedtime surprise is a delight.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2017 | ISBN 978-0062670670

Discover more about Quentin Blake, his books, and his illustration work on his website

To learn more about Emma Chichester Clark, her books, and her paintings, visit her website.

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

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Just Hanging Around! Bookmark

 

Monkeys love hanging around! Print this Just Hanging Around! Bookmark, color it and then let this little one save your page until you come back to reading! 

Picture Book Review

April 1 – Reading is Funny Day

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About the Holiday

On April 1 there’s a lot of funny stuff going on, so why shouldn’t reading be funny too? With so many books that can make you laugh out loud and see the world in a new, positive, or even quirky way, there’s no time like the present to get reading! To celebrate today, buy a new funny book at your local bookstore or check some out from your library. Parents and grandparents may enjoy sharing the funny books that were their favorites too! 

I Have a Balloon

Written by Ariel Bernstein | Illustrated by Scott Magoon

 

An owl warily hangs onto his balloon as a monkey swings into the picture pointing at the owl’s prized possession. “I have a balloon,” the owl states. “That is a big balloon,” says the monkey. The owl proudly concurs as he repeats the monkey’s praise. But the monkey is not finished with his compliments. “That is a shiny red balloon,” he says. Yes, the owl agrees.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Perhaps, though, the monkey’s compliments are not entirely gratuitous. He adds that the shiny, red balloon would look swell with his shiny, red bowtie and imagines walking into school with such a perfectly matched outfit. In fact, he says, “The only thing I’ve ever wanted, since right now, is a shiny, big red balloon.” The monkey’s not without some sense of fairness, though, and offers to trade his teddy bear for the balloon. But the owl isn’t feeling it.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

If teddy bears aren’t the owl’s thing, what about a sunflower? The monkey has one of those too, and it’s enormous—even bigger than the balloon! Is the owl interested in trading? No. Would he like “a robot? No.” “A picture of ten balloons? No.” How about a bowling ball and pin? No and No. Finally, the monkey pulls out a sock. Hmmm…the owl seems a bit intrigued. He can see the merits of this sock: it “has a star on it” and “a perfectly shaped hole.” The monkey has to acknowledge these fine qualities.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Is the owl wavering? The balloon doesn’t do anything—but the sock? There are so many things to do with a sock like that. “You can wear a sock on your tail or your foot or your hand or your ear,” and it makes a perfect puppet. Feeling victory in his grasp, the monkey offers the sock in exchange for the balloon, and the owl agrees. The monkey is surprised. You mean the “sock with a star and a perfectly shaped hole?” That’s the one.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

But wait! The monkey now seems to have had a change of heart: “All I’ve ever wanted, since right now, is a sock with a star and a perfectly shaped hole. It makes me SO HAPPY!” So, the owl and the monkey seem to be back to square one: “I have a sock. You have a balloon,” the monkey states. “I have a balloon,” the owl concurs. Phew! Well, that’s settled! Or is it…?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-have-a-balloon-upside-down

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Ariel Bernstein’s quick-witted owl and monkey may not end up trading objects, but they sure trade banter—much to the benefit of little readers. In the dynamic dynamics between the capricious monkey and the astute owl, there is much for children to talk and think about. While the monkey lives in the moment, bouncing from one desire to another, the owl plays a longer game, considering each of his options.

When the monkey hits upon the sock after and the owl accepts, kids may well wonder if the owl is using a little reverse psychology to redirect the monkey away from his balloon or whether he really wants that sock. Children might also think about an object’s value when seen through another’s eyes. In the end, both the monkey and the owl seem happy with their objects, raising another talking point on being satisfied with what you have. Bernstein’s funny, mirrored dialog is a joy to read out loud and also allows for various interpretations in tone that could lead to multiple readings and meanings.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-have-a-balloon-falls

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Scott Magoon sets the stage and the characters’ personalities on the first page as the adorable, coconut-shaped monkey swings in on a vine much to the wariness of the tolerant, blue owl. Humorous touches will keep kids giggling (the monkey attends Monkey C. Do elementary school) and provide an arc for this clever story. Children will notice that the branch that breaks in the first pages is bandaged together with the very useful sock later on. Magoon deftly handles the change in fortunes with wry looks, imagination bubbles, and plenty of action.  A little foot that appears on the second-to-last spread provides a bit of foreshadowing to the story’s final laugh.

I Have a Balloon is a terrific read aloud and would be a much-asked-for addition to classroom or public libraries and for any child’s home bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481472500

You’ll discover more about Ariel Bernstein and her books as well as a Teacher’s Guide on her website!

Check out the gallery of illustration work by Scott Magoon on his website

Reading is Funny Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-love-to-read-bookmarks

Reading Is Funny Bookmarks

 

As you mark your place—or your favorite part—in your books, you’ll get a laugh out of these punny bookmarks!

Reading Is Funny Bookmarks

 

Picture Book Review

February 8 – Laugh and Get Rich Day

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About the Holiday

Today isn’t about selling tickets to your stand-up comedy show or laughing all the way to the bank. Instead, today’s holiday celebrates the way laughter can enrich our lives in so many ways. Laughing with friends is one of the best ways to relax, and the health benefits of laughter and having a positive outlook are well-known. Laughter can also help us get through those less-than-perfect situations too—as today’s book shows!

Accident!

By Andrea Tsurumi

 

Lola comes cartwheeling through the living room deftly hopping over her scattered toys and around the letters that spell out A-C-C-I-D-E-N… but there’s a pitcher of juice on the T-able. Could this just be an accident waiting… well, you know! Let’s see…

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Copyright Andrea Tsurumi, 2017, courtesy of andreatsurumi.com.

“OOF! OH NO!, Lola cried. I’ve ruined everything!” It does look pretty bad now that the white chair is dripping with juice. Lola knows just how to fix this. She’ll run away to the library and hide. “They have books and bathrooms. And I’ll stay there till I’m a grownup,” she says. She’s running pell-mell for the library when she hears, “OH NO!” She runs over to the playground to see what the matter is and finds that her friend has broken the chains on her swing. “What…do…I…do?!” she asks. Lola knows….

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Copyright Andrea Tsurumi, 2017, courtesy of andreatsurumi.com.

They’re both tearing off for the library when they see Sheep in the midst of a “MAJOR MESS!” Seems he snipped the hose while trimming the bushes, and now the hose is dancing all over the place and water is squirting everywhere. “I…AM…THE…WORST!” Sheep cries. Lola and Bear know how he feels. They can’t get to the library fast enough, so they don’t see Aardvark wheeling her grocery cart down the sidewalk. “OOF! ACK! SPLAT!” Sheep goes flying and dives right into Puffer Fish’s freshly baked cake.

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Copyright Andrea Tsurumi, 2017, courtesy of andreatsurumi.com.

The four take off through the neighborhood, not looking right or left, wondering what more can happen. In and out, up and down, around and around they run, completely missing the “WHOOPS! OOPS!… SPILLS… MAYHEM”…and “CALAMITY” at every turn. At last they make it to the library where all is calm until…”CATASTROPHE” hits. Lola bounces and rolls out of the way of flying books and right into Birdy, who has a little secret. When Lola tells her about all the DISASTERS, FIASCOS, and CATASTROPHES, Birdy has just one word for her: “Accident.”

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Copyright Andrea Tsurumi, 2017, courtesy of andreatsurumi.com.

Everyone stops to listen and hear how they can make it right. So Lion apologizes to Rabbit, the Rhinos upright Turtle’s car, Lola helps Walrus squeeze out of the tire around his middle, and all over town, friends and strangers help each other clean up the messes. Lola grabs cleaning supplies and races home to find her dad has had an accident of his own. But a little picking up and a little pick-me-up sets the world right again.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-accident!-we're-so-lucky

Copyright Andrea Tsurumi, 2017, courtesy of andreatsurumi.com.

For kids—and adults—who tend to take an apocalyptic view of mistakes, Andrea Tsurumi’s hilarious cartoon-inspired compendium of “catastrophes” is the perfect antidote. Her sparse text of shocked cries delivered in speech bubbles and all-caps typeface are laugh-out-loud funny and lead readers to linger over the pages to catch one mishap after the next. Tsurumi’s bright illustrations offer the best of slap-stick comedy brought to the page and are a riot of slips, spills, surprised faces, and silly antics.

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Copyright Andrea Tsurumi, 2017, courtesy of andreatsurumi.com.

An anteater’s long tongue spells out “Yikes,” a bull leaves a china shop clutching broken shards of dishware, a narwhal nanny inadvertently pops her young charge’s balloon, and a bear thoughtlessly serves a soft-boiled egg to a chicken. Kids will have a blast finding their favorite mishap, spying the accidents waiting to happen, and following the domino-like sequences. They’ll also see that everyone makes mistakes and that, when taken with a pinch of humor, they can be easily remedied. 

Accident! would make a terrific gift and an often-asked-for addition to home, classroom, school, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0544944800

You’ll find an Accident! Activity Guide to download for fun and educational story times on the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt website.

Discover more about Andrea Tsurumi, her books, and her art as well as Accident! activity sheets on her website.

Laugh and Get Rich Day Activity

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Made You Laugh! Word Search

 

People love to laugh, giggle, chuckle—or however you like to say it! Find all twenty-five synonyms for laugh or funny in this printable Made You Laugh! Word Search Puzzle!

Made You Laugh! Word Search PuzzleMade You Laugh! Word Search Puzzle Solution

Picture Book Review