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?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-be-kind-spilled-juice

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-initial-bookend

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-little-monkeys-kitchen

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.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-little-monkeys-coming-home

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-monkey-bookmark

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-have-a-balloon-shiny-tie

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…?

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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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-accident!-building

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.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-accident!-fiasco

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-accident!-end-of-world

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-made-you-laugh-word-search

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

January 27 – National Seed Swap Day

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About the Holiday

If you love to garden, you may want to get involved with National Seed Swap Day! The first Seed Swap Day was held in Washington DC in 2006. Since then it has grown to be a nation-wide event as gardeners get together to trade the seeds from their best plants. Not only does this improve the biodiversity in your local area, it’s a great way to make new friends! To learn more about what events are planned in your area, visit the official National Seed Swap blog.

The Bad Seed

Written by Jory John | Illustrated by Pete Oswald

 

A sunflower seed stares right off the page and admits it: “I’m a bad seed. A baaaaaaaad seed.” He knows that all the other seeds feel the same way. They point him out and mumble, “There goes a baaaad seed.” You might wonder just how bad a seed he can be. Pretty bad…he’ll tell you himself. Are you ready? Take a listen: “I never put things back where they belong. I’m late to everything. I tell long jokes with no punchlines.”

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Image copyright Pete Oswald, 2017, text copyright Jory John, 2017. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Heard enough? Still think this seed may not be so bad? Well, what if you knew he was unhygienic, a little untruthful, and sometimes a lot inconsiderate. Why does he do this stuff? You know…he’s “a bad seed. A baaaad seed.” Was he always this way, you might wonder. The answer’s No. In fact, he “was born a humble seed on a simple sunflower in an unremarkable field.”

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Image copyright Pete Oswald, 2017, text copyright Jory John, 2017. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

He just hung out with his big family of seeds until the flower began to droop, the seeds scattered and then…there was this bag. The seed was almost eaten by a giant with a big, scary mouth but was “spit out at the last possible second.” He landed under the bleachers, and when he woke up he found his life changed forever. He had “become a different seed entirely.” He’d “become a bad seed.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bad-seed-under-bleachers

Image copyright Pete Oswald, 2017, text copyright Jory John, 2017. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

He was in unknown territory, by himself. He’s happy to share the sad details: “I stopped smiling. I kept to myself. I drifted. I was friend to nobody and bad to everybody. I was lost on purpose. I lived inside a soda can. I didn’t care. And it suited me.” That is it did suit him until recently. This seed did some soul searching, and decided to be better.

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Image copyright Pete Oswald, 2017, text copyright Jory John, 2017. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

So now he still does some of that bad stuff (did you hear someone talking during a movie? That was probably him), but he does some good stuff too—like having good manners and smiling at people. Now, he says, “even though I still feel bad, sometimes, I also feel kind of good. It’s sort of a mix.” He’s just going to keep trying, and thinking, and readjusting his behavior and his view of himself. And now when he’s walking down the street, he still hears, “There goes that bad seed.” But he also hears, “Actually, he’s not all that bad anymore.”

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Image copyright Pete Oswald, 2017, text copyright Jory John, 2017. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Jory John’s sly look at bad behavior is a sophisticated psychological thriller for the youngest set. John’s humorous take on the “bad seed” descriptor gives him full reign to explore some of the more serious life events that can cause sadness, loneliness, and even personality changes. As the once-happy seed loses his home, scatters from family, and ends up a bit bruised and battered, he sees his once sunny life turn dark.

With a hardened heart, he goes about his days, acting badly and letting the comments of others define him. To his credit, however, this seed has the presence of mind—and enough honesty—to recognize his bad behavior and also to know that only he can change it. The niceties that the seed foregoes will have kids and adults laughing out loud as his reputation seems a bit more roguish than the reality. And the authentic ending holds a reassuring kernel of truth—life is a bit of a mix, but happiness often wins out.

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Image copyright Pete Oswald, 2017, text copyright Jory John, 2017. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

It’s understandable if you don’t quite believe the sunflower seed when he says he’s a baaaad seed in Pete Oswald’s adorable illustrations. Sure, he scowls and furrows his brow, butts in line, and gets a bit stinky, but underneath that hard shell, really lies the heart of a softie. The other seeds in the neighborhood—pistachios, peanuts, almonds, chestnuts, cashews, and more—are fed up, though, registering fear, dismay, and even anger over the sunflower’s behavior. When the sunflower seed has a change of heart, however, others take note, and he gets another crack at life.

The Bad Seed is a funny book that kids will love to hear again and again. It also provides many teachable moments for those times when life gets a little discouraging. The book would make a great addition to home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2017 | ISBN 978-0062467768

Discover more about Jory John and his books on his website

Learn more about Pete Oswalk and view a portfolio of his artwork on his tumblr.

How good is this The Bad Seed book trailer? Take a look!

National Seed Swap Day Activity

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Seed Packet Coloring Pages

 

All of your favorite veggies come from seeds, of course!, and those seeds come in packets that are little bits of art. Grab your crayons or pencils and color these printable Seed Packet Coloring Pages.

Carrots Seed Packet | Peas Seed Packet | Broccoli Seed Packet | Corn Seed Packet

Picture Book Review

January 23 – National Handwriting Day & Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

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About the Holiday

Established in 1977, National Handwriting Day commemorates the act of putting thoughts to paper with a pen or pencil. In this age of computer writing programs, email, and texting, the art and joy of penmanship is waning. Handwriting, though, is unique to each individual and should be celebrated and encouraged! One of the best ways for kids to develop handwriting skills is by writing letters to friends and family. Finding a pen pal either close to home or from another country is another fantastic way to make new friends that can bring joy, broaden horizons, build empathy and respect for others, and promote a lifetime love of learning about our world—just as today’s book that celebrates the ideals of Multicultural Children’s Book Day shows!

Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo

 

Teachers know that when their students get to know other kids from nearby or far away, they gain an understanding of different traditions and cultures and develop the kinds of caring, empathy, and kindness that make the world a better place for all. Add in some poetry and the fun of sending—and receiving—letters, and you’ve got…Dear Dragon: A Pen Pale Tale—a clever tribute to creative communication and friendship.

As the story opens, George and his classmates are learning about their new project. Elsewhere, Dragomir and his classmates are getting the details on their new project. And what is this new assignment? This year in each classroom the poetry and pen pal projects are being combined, so all correspondence must be written in rhyme.

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Image copyright Montalvo Rodalfo, 2016, text copyright Josh Funk, 2016. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

On each student’s desk is an envelope with the name of the pen pal they’ve been given. George Slair opens his envelope to discover that he’s been matched with Blaise Dragomir, and Blaise pulls George’s name from his envelope. What George doesn’t know—but readers do—is that Blaise is a dragon; and what Blaise doesn’t know—but readers do—is that George is a boy.

In his first letter, George begins with honesty and a bit about himself: “Dear Blaise Dragomir, / We haven’t met each other, and I don’t know what to say. / I really don’t like writing, but I’ll do it anyway. / Yesterday my dad and I designed a giant fort. / I like playing catch and soccer. What’s your favorite sport? / Sincerely, George Slair.”

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Image copyright Montalvo Rodalfo, 2016, text copyright Josh Funk, 2016. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

 

As Blaise reads the letter he pictures George’s fort as a medieval stone fortress with an iron gate and whittled-to-a-point log fencing instead of the cardboard box, blanket, and umbrella that it actually was. Blaise writes back: “Dear George Slair, / I also don’t like writing, but I’ll try it, I suppose. / A fort is like a castle, right? I love attacking those. / My favorite sport is skydiving. I jump near Falcor Peak. / Tomorrow is my birthday, but my party is next week. / Sincerely, Blaise Dragomir.”

In his next letter, dated October 31, more earth-bound George tells Blaise that parachuting is awesome, that his dog destroyed his fort, and that he is trick-or-treating as a knight—a revelation to which Blaise has a visceral response. But what is scary to one pal is tame to the other. On November 14th Blaise relates: “Knights are super scary! I don’t like trick-or-treat. / Brushing teeth is such a pain, I rarely eat a sweet. / My pet’s a Bengal Kitten and tonight she needs a bath. / What’s your favorite class in school? I’m really into math!”

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Image copyright Montalvo Rodalfo, 2016, text copyright Josh Funk, 2016. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Reading December’s letter, Blaise learns that George likes art and imagines the table-top volcano science project George writes about as a roaring, lava-spewing mountain. In January George is impressed to learn that Blaise’s father is a fire-breather. He conjures up images of a dad in a fancy, caped costume creating fire out of nothing, but the truth is a lot more explosive. February brings word that George’s mom and dad are teachers and that a pen-pal picnic is planned for June.

When Blaise writes back in March, he reveals that his dad’s into learning too: “…every night we read a book / or pick a game to play.” Then he tells George about a special outing he’s looking forward to with his dad: “Soon he’s gonna take me flying, once it’s really spring. / It’s such a rush to ride the air that flows from wing to wing.”

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Image copyright Montalvo Rodalfo, 2016, text copyright Josh Funk, 2016. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

On April 11th George expresses his wonder at Blaise’s parents: “Hi, Blaise! / Skydiving and flying? Wow, your parents rock! / I’m lucky if my father lets me bike around the block.” Then George asks a question that shows this project’s worth: “Once the school year’s over and this project is complete, / should we continue writing? ‘Cause it could be kind of neat….” Signing off, George abandons the formal “Sincerely, George” for “Your friend.” 

Blaise is all in for continuing this friendship. In his May letter, he writes, “Hey, George! / I’m psyched about the picnic and I can’t wait to attend. / Who’d have thought this pen pal thing would make me a new friend? / Writing more sounds awesome. I was gonna ask you, too! / I’ve never liked to write as much as when I write to you.”

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Image copyright Montalvo Rodalfo, 2016, text copyright Josh Funk, 2016. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

With a growing sense of anticipation, readers know that with a turn of the page June will come, and that June brings the long-awaited picnic. How will George and Blaise react when they see each other? As the children approach the Pen Pal Picnic spot and see the friends they’ve been writing to all year, their mouths hang open and their eyes grow wide. And as the dragons peek out from behind the trees to see the friends they’ve been writing to all year, their mouths hang open and their eyes grow wide.

“‘Blaise?’” a surprised George ventures, as a slice of tomato drops from his hamburger. “‘George?’” an astonished Blaise guesses, while nervously holding his tail. “‘My pen pal is a dragon?’” says George. “‘My pen pal is a human?’” echoes Blaise.

For a moment the celebration stops, but with the turn of the page, huge grins burst out on both George and Blaise as they exchange high fives (and fours). The other kid-and-dragon pals are having a blast too! And what do the teachers have to say? “‘Our plan was a success, my friend, or so it would appear!’ / ‘The Poetry and Pen Pal Project! Once again next year?’”

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Image copyright Montalvo Rodalfo, 2016, text copyright Josh Funk, 2016. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

In his inventive story that celebrates friendship, diversity, and the joy of discovering different viewpoints, Josh Funk shows the power of writing and communication to unite people of all backgrounds. Through the alternating letters from George and Blaise, Funk deftly demonstrates that many experiences are universal—like pets, school, hobbies, and parents—while others are just waiting to be shared.  Blaise Dagomir and George Slair’s names are inspired, and may introduce kids to the ancient legends of Saint George and the Dragon and the poem St George and the Dragon by Alfred Noyes. This shout out to this well-known poem of the past further highlights the importance of reading all types of literature for both children and adults in connecting us as global citizens.

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Following the alternating sequence of the letters, Rodolfo Montalvo depicts each pen pal’s perception of the message—along with the reality—in his illustrations that are, as George exclaims, “as awesome as it gets.” There is a special delight in seeing how sweet, earnest, and happily supportive of each other’s lifestyle Blaise and George are as they react to every letter. The full-bleed pages and vibrant colors dazzle with excitement, humor, and ingenious details. The final spreads build suspense as to how George and Blaise will react to each other, and the resolution is cheerfully satisfying.

One striking aspect of both the text and the illustrations is the similarity between the two pen pals. While their activities and experiences may be on different scales, they are comparable and understandable to each child. Likewise, in each painting Montalvo uses complementary colors to unite George and Blaise. This cohesiveness in both words and pictures beautifully represents the theme of inclusiveness.

Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale is a fantastic read-aloud with multiple applications for fun and discussion at home and during classroom and library story times.

Ages 4 – 8

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0451472304

Discover more about Josh Funk and his books and find plenty of fun activities to enjoy on his website.

Learn more about Rodolfo Montalvo and his artwork on his website

National Handwriting Day Activity

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Hello, Friends! Word Search Puzzle

 

Friends say and write “hello” to each other all over the world. You can learn how to say “hello” in twenty-five languages as you look for them in this printable Hello, Friends Word Search Puzzle!

Hello, Friends! Word Search Puzzle | Hello, Friends! Word Search Solution

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About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. View our 2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/mcbd2018-medallion-level-sponsors/

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/about/co-hosts/

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12 5-book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Social Media

Don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Be sure and look for and use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Picture Book Review