July 6 – National Fried Chicken Day


About the Holiday

Fried chicken with its crispy outside and tender, juicy inside is the star of American Southern home style cooking. The tradition, brought to America by Scottish immigrants, is a favorite for summer picnics and has spawned many an on-the-go restaurant. There’s only one way to celebrate this holiday…well, maybe two—sink your teeth into some delicious fried chicken and devour today’s book!

Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrated by Dan Santat


The times, they are a’menacing. A fox is prowling and has already chicken napped Hensel and Gretel’s ma, shaking up their pa. Hensel and Gretel know just what to do—they enroll at the 3 Pigs Dojo and “they trained in the art of ninjutsu / and practiced their wing throws and blocks. / They learned how to creep / without making a peep / so they wouldn’t fall prey to that fox.” Their training proves advantageous as the day soon comes when Hensel and Gretel have to put their training into practice.

One day they return home to find that their pa has also been nabbed by the fox. While they may be chickens the sisters definitely aren’t chicken so they go in search of their pop. They drop crumbs on their trail to lead them back home, but the forest grows “twisted and tangled” and they soon discover that the breadcrumbs are gone. Bravely, they trek through the woods until they see a light. “It came from a cottage of corn bread! / ‘Let’s eat!’ Hensel clucked with delight. / She nibbled away till she heard someone say, / ‘My dear, come on in for a bite.’”


Image copyright Dan Santat, 2016, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2016. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Caught off guard, Hensel enters the house but quickly realizes her mistake when she sees a pan in the oven. In the corner she finds her pa locked away in a crate. The fox grabs her and adds her to the crate with her dad. While she is fattening up, the fox tells her, he’ll eat another hen from his stock. That hen turns out to be Hensel and Gretel’s mom! Meanwhile, Gretel has squeezed her way through the chimney “with ninja-like silence and speed.” She frees her ma and with “one feathered sweep” blocks the fox’s advance.

The fox fights back, but Mama comes to Gretel’s rescue with a well-aimed wok just as Hensel and Papa break free. But the crate doesn’t stay empty for long: “With one wicked spin, / Hensel kicked the fox in! / ‘You’re done with your chick-frying spree!’” Back home Hensel and Gretel are congratulated, and “from then on they made it their mission / to rescue, protect and defend. / They’d work night and day / to liberate prey / till bird-napping came to an end.”


Image copyright Dan Santat, 2016, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2016. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Ninja pandemonium is back! This time the martial arts are served up chicken style in Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez’s take on Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel story. All the intrigue and suspense of the original is here, but blazingly spiced and fried up with delicious puns, sizzling verbs, and some of the most riotous rhymes you’ll ever read.

Dan Santat again lends his agile artwork to the springs, spins, and stealth of the world of the dojo. Feathers fly; the fox leaps, chops, and winces; and Hensel and Gretel perform some serious Kiya! Santat’s forest is gloomy and forbidding, the air shimmers with the force of well-placed kicks, and the large close-up images put readers in the middle of the action.

Everyone from small-fries to hens and roosters will flip over Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks. It’s a must addition to any child’s library.

Ages 4 – 9

G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0399176265 | ISBN 978-1338203868 (Paperback, 2017)

Watch Hensel and Gretel kick some tail feathers in the trailer for their book!

To discover more books by Corey Rosen Schwartz as well as fun activities and how to be a Book Ninja, visit her website.

Activities, tips, books, and more by Rebecca J. Gomez can be found on her website.

A gallery of art, list of books, and more information about Dan Santat is available on his website.

National Fried Chicken Day Activity


Turn Over a New Chicken


A long-handled wooden turner makes a plucky decoration for your room or kitchen! With a few simple additions, you’ll have a cute companion you’ll want to crow about!


  • Printable Comb and Scarf Template
  • Long-handled wooded turner, available in kitchen supply stores
  • Red felt
  • Yellow bakable clay
  • Fabric, 12 inches square
  • A small piece of white felt or fleece (optional)
  • White paint (or any color you would like)
  • Black marker
  • Fabric glue
  • Glue gun
  • Paint brush



  1. Paint the wooden turner, let dry
  2. Cut the scarf from the piece of fabric
  3. Make a beak from the yellow clay and bake it according to package directions

To make the comb

  1. Cut out the comb from the red felt
  2. Fold the felt in half and glue the end together with the fabric glue
  3. Cut short strips from the folded top of the felt, about ½-inch to ¾ -inch in length
  4. Round the corners of the strips slightly

To make the scarf

  1. Fold the fabric in half
  2. With the long, straight edge of the scarf template along the fold, cut out the scarf
  3. With the fabric glue, glue the two sides of the scarf together so that you have two “right” sides
  4. Let dry

To assemble the chicken

  1. Pinch the bottom of the comb together so that the strips open and the felt pleats a little
  2. With the glue gun attach the comb to the back of the painted turner, keeping the bottom pinched together
  3. Attach the beak to the front of the turner
  4. Draw eyes on the chicken with the black marker
  5. Tie the scarf around the neck of the handle, hold in place with a drop of glue in the back if necessary
  6. To make tail feathers in a turner with a hole in the handle, pinch together a small folded piece of white felt or fleece and push it through the hole in the handle of the turner.
  7. Cut or arrange to look like feathers


You can find Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks at these booksellers

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


July 3 – Compliment Your Mirror Day


About the Holiday

Take a peek in the mirror and who do you see? That’s right—a fantastic person with inner and outer beauty! Today is dedicated to recognizing and appreciating that person in the mirror!

Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History

By Sarah Albee


Whether you’re a fashionista or an “any ol’ thing will do” kind of person, there’s no denying that clothes make a statement. Sarah Albee’s fascinating look at human wraps spans history from 10,000 BC to the modern era. Along the way she exposes both historical facts as well as the often repugnant, laughable, and can’t-look-away fashion fads and disasters that have brought us to “wear” we are today. 

In Chapter 1: That’s a Wrap, Albee reveals facts about the first needles and thread, silk production, the Mayan tradition of forced elongation of skulls (this was considered attractive, denoted social status, and was intimidating), the first pants, warrior wear, and much more.

Chapter 2: Keeping the Faith exposes the influence religion had on clothing in the Middle Ages. White or russet colored robes were worn by men traveling on pilgrimages while penitents could wear a hair shirt made of itchy, bristly horsehair as punishment. Medieval armor, Samurai dress, why modern men’s loafers are decorated with little holes, and more are also discussed here as is the job of Wool Fuller – in which the Fuller soaked wool in urine to degrease it and improve its texture.


Image courtesy of National Geographic

Chapter 3: Going Global covers the Age of Exploration, which changed fashion as explorers from Europe came in contact with Native peoples in the New World. Red dye, rubber shoes, and the leather Moccasins were all adopted by Europeans. And if you think the search for remedies for wrinkles and other vestiges of older age is a modern pursuit, you’ll learn about Ponce de Leon and his quest for the fountain of youth.

Chapter 4: Ruff & Ready takes a look at the Renaissance. You may have seen fur stoles with the head of the animal still attached and wondered, Why? This fashion statement goes back to “Flea Furs” which were dead, stuffed animals that people draped over their shoulders in the belief that the fleas that were munching on their skin would transfer to the animal instead. Unfortunately, people discovered that fleas prefer warm bodies. Another curious fad was the ruff collar. While people may have thought they looked swell, these collars hindered physical movement and even led to the invention of the long-handled spoon because people could not get food to their mouths any other way. One “benefit” perhaps: when the first American settlers ran out of all other food options, they ate their collars, which were stiffened with wheat paste. And there’s so much more!

In Chapter 5: Lighten Up! readers will discover facts about the dour dress of the Puritans and the ostentatious dress of the French court. The tradition of men’s wigs is explained, and today’s face-painting has nothing on the unusual solution for facial blemishes—black velvet, leather, or silk patches in various shapes.


Image courtesy of National Geographic

Revolutionary Times take center stage in Chapter 6: Hats (and Heads) Off. During this time clothes began to fit the task. There were clothing items to protect (walking canes became popular as a way to ward off marauding wild dogs), uniforms to highlight the good looks of running footmen, elaborate costumes for Venetian parties, and homespun clothes that became a sign of protest from the American colonists. And if you think “bumpits” and hair extensions are new, women trying to keep up with Marie-Antoinette wore their hair (real and artificial) “cemented upward over wire armatures into two-foot (0.6-m)-high coiffures that made the wearer stand 7 ½ feet tall!”

Chapters 7 through 9 bring readers into the modern age, taking them from a time when children were dressed as young adults and boys wore elaborate gowns until the age of 7 to the textile innovations of the Industrial Revolution and the popularity of bustles that put fanny packs to shame to the fads of the 1960s and today.


Image courtesy of National Geographic

Albee’s Why’d They Wear That? is much more than a book about fashion. It’s a humorous, fabulously entertaining way to learn about so many aspects of history, from social revolution to inventions to cultural differences. Enlightening side bars, especially the fascinating “Tough Job” entries, and full-color illustrations, paintings, and photographs depicting every concept make Why’d They Wear That? an essential book for school libraries as well as for home bookshelves. Readers of all ages will want to dip into it again and again…and will “Oh!” “Ah!” and “Ewww!” over every page.

Ages 7 and up (children on the younger end of the range will enjoy the facts and pictures during a read-along session) 

National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1426319198

Learn more about Sarah Albee and her books on her website!

Watch the trailer for Why’d They Wear That? Fashion never looked so…good? unsettling? hilarious? You decide!

Compliment Your Mirror Day Activity


Mirror, Mirror, What Shall I Wear?


In this magic mirror word search are 20 fashion-related terms from history. Find them all! Here’s the printable Mirror, Mirror, What Shall I Wear puzzle and the Solution.

July 1 – International Joke Day


About the Holiday

The tradition of a Joke Day originated in America and now is celebrated around the world. There may be no better way to bring people together than with a truly funny joke. Although what is considered humorous may vary from country to country, the love of laughter is universal and its health benefits are well-known. Today, rediscover your favorite jokes and research what others consider funny around the world!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School

Written by Davide Cali | Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud


Standing in front of his teacher, a little boy, his hair spiked with sweat, starts to explain why he’s late for school. It all began when giant ants stole his breakfast. This led him to his neighbors’ house to borrow a piece of bread, but he was thwarted because they were experimenting with a cannon and had just blown a hole in the wall.

Evil ninjas attacked him at the bus stop and then a team of high-stepping majorettes barred  his way. The gorilla who thought the school bus was a banana and the mole people who abducted him didn’t help things either. “‘So is that why you’re late?’” the teacher asks. Oh no, the boy says. He escaped easily enough and would have been on time if he hadn’t shrunk and then expanded and then returned to normal size just to fall into a pond where he had to fight a yellow blob.


Image copyright Benjamin Chaud, courtesy of Chronicle Books

As soon as the blob was taken care of, an elephant snatched him up. A mouse helped him out of that fix, but soon he met Little Red Riding Hood and had a very Hansel and Gretel snack with her. “‘So is that why you’re late?’” the teacher asks. Nope, the boy says. He then followed a pied piper, but discovered he was going in the opposite direction of the school. Somehow he fell and landed in a spider’s web, but thanks to his trusty gadget belt he was able to cut his way out. Next Bigfoot and Yeti dropped on the scene, and later there was an unfortunate mix-up with a flock of sheep and some ducks. After that the President required his special chess skills.

“‘So is that why you’re late?’” the teacher asks. “Oh, no. I actually made it to school on time,” the boy states. “But I forgot my backpack…” The boy went home to get it, and as anyone would do if they had an uncle with a time machine, he used it to return to school on time. A malfunction in the machine sent him a little too far back—to the age of dinosaurs. “And THAT is why I was late to school,” the boy reveals.

The teacher takes a close, disbelieving look at her tardy student, but it may only be a moment before she discovers he was telling…the truth?


Image copyright Benjamin Chaud, courtesy of Chronicle Books

There’s nothing so vivid as the imagination of a child trying to explain away a transgression, and Davide Cali puts that fact to excellent use in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School. Part farce, part science fiction, part classic fairy tale, Cali’s story employs all the resources of childhood to come up with a whopper of a tale that will impress and entertain kids.

Benjamin Chaud’s detailed depictions of the boy’s tall tales as he gets embroiled in one fantastic adventure after another will delight kids. Chaud’s colorful, action-packed illustrations deftly bridge the fantastic and reasonable aspects of the boy’s imagination. Kids will love the humorous additions—as when the wolf from “Little Red Riding Hood” eats the witch from “Hansel and Gretel” and an unfortunate parrot gets his tail feathers clipped along with the spider web—and will want to go through the story again to pick up other clues scattered along the way. 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School is a great choice for a fun story and snack time.

Ages 5 – 9

Chronicle Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1452131689

International Joke Day Activity


Elephants Never Forget a Joke Mask


Elephants are well-known for their good memories—all the better to remember favorite jokes! Print out and color this elephant mask and then have fun with it!


  • Printable Elephant Mask
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • String, elastic band, or craft stick
  • Scissors


  1. Print and color the elephant mask
  2. Cut out the mask
  3. Color the mask
  4. Attach string, elastic, or a craft stick to the back of the mask at the marked places

April 16 – Record Store Day

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield picture book review

About the Holiday

Vinyl has made a resurgence—and why not?! Records have so much to offer music lovers, from the awesome album art to extras like posters, lyrics, photos and more. Those special packages are all about the relationship between the artists and their fans. All over the world Record Store Day celebrates this art form and the shops—both large and small—where you can find albums by your favorite musicians. Entering a record store is an adventure in itself. Flipping through the bins you might discover a new artist, an old album you don’t have, or an intriguing concept you just have to experience for yourself. Today, visit a record store near you and see how what once seemed old is new again!

The Bear and the Piano

By David Litchfield


One day a bear cub happens upon a piano in a clearing in the middle of the forest. Wondering what it could be, he approaches and lays his paw on the keys. The strange thing goes PLONK!—such an awful sound. The bear cub leaves, but is drawn back again and again for days, months, and years. Over time the bear grows up and learns to play the piano. The music is beautiful and transports him to strange and wonderful places.

Other bears soon gather in the clearing to hear the “magical melodies” the bear plays. The bear is happy entertaining his friends. One night a girl and her father hiking in the forest come to the clearing. They listen and then tell the bear what his strange instrument is. They invite him to move to the city with them, where he will be able to play grand pianos for hundreds of people. The music he will play and hear “will make your fur stand on end,” they tell him.

The bear is conflicted. One on paw he knows that leaving the forest will make the other bears sad; on the other he longs to explore the world, to play the piano better, and master more intricate music. He decides to go with the girl and her father.

In the city the bear is a sensation! He quickly becomes a celebrity with his name on marquees and playing to sold-out crowds. The bear records albums that go platinum, he appears on the covers of magazines, and wins awards. His experience is everything he could ever wish for. But deep in his heart there is another longing. He misses the forest and his friends there.

He decides to leave the city and rows a boat across the expanse of water to his old home. Excitedly he runs to the clearing, but when he arrives everything has changed. His piano is gone and there are no friends to greet him. The bear worries that everyone is angry at him for leaving, or worse—that they have forgotten him.

Suddenly an old friend peeks around the trunk of a tree. The bear hails him with a hearty “Hello!”, but the other bear remains silent then turns and runs into the trees. The bear follows plunging deeper and deeper into the forest. Suddenly he stops. In front of him is a sight that makes his fur stand on end.

There, protected in the shade of a tree and surrounded by the albums, magazines, t-shirts, and other mementos of the bear’s success sits the old piano. The bear’s friends have not forgotten him and they are not angry. They are proud and welcoming. The bear tells them all about his adventures, and then he sits down to play again—for the most important audience of all.

David Litchfield’s very original and moving story is such a wonderfully conceived microcosm of the changes life brings. Stumbling upon a talent, cause, or inspiration; opening up to other influences; and acting on hard decisions are all part of growing up. These concepts are honestly and sensitively presented, and the reassuring ending brings comfort as well as a tear to the eye.

Litchfield’s touching illustrations—rendered in gorgeous hues of browns, greens, yellows, and blues—brim with yearning and mystery. The piano sits in a misty glow, silent and draped with vines, when the cub discovers it. While the bear grows and learns to play, the air clears and the colors become brighter. As the bear moves to the city, the pages glint and swirl with his enormous achievements. But as the bear sits on a rooftop one night looking out toward his old home, the lights around him are the elements of normal life—lamps, stars, the moon glimmering on the water. His nostalgia to be home will resonate with both kids and adults. The Bear and the Piano makes a wonderful gift for any age—especially as a graduation or new-job gift—and is a must-have for anyone’s personal library.

Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016 | ISBN 978-0544674547

Record Store Day Activity

CPB - Record Bulletin Board

Make a Record Chalkboard Bulletin Board


Would you love to make a record some day? Why wait? In this fun craft you can create your own record bulletin board—and even create your own label art! While this record may not spin on turntables around the world, it will drop in a more important place—your very own room!


  • Printable Record Label for you to design
  • Foam board, or a corkboard at least 12-inches x 12-inches square
  • Adhesive cork
  • A 12-inch round plate, record, or other round object to trace OR a compass
  • Chalkboard paint, black
  • X-acto knife
  • Paint brush or foam paint brush
  • Mounting squares


  1. Cut a section from the adhesive cork a little larger than 12 inches by 12 inches
  2. Affix the cork to the foam board
  3. Trace the 12-inch round object onto the cork/foam board OR use the compass to make a 12-inch circle
  4. With the x-acto knife, carefully cut out the circle (adult help needed for children)
  5. Cut out a ¼ -inch circle in the center of the record bulletin board
  6. Paint the cork, sides and inside the spindle hole with the black chalkboard paint. Let dry
  7. Print the label template and design your own record label
  8. When the paint is dry, glue your label to the center of the bulletin board
  9. Hang your bulletin board with the mounting squares
  10. Decorate!

April 14 – Look up at the Sky Day


About the Holiday

Some holidays require rushing around, shopping, and lots of preparation. Today’s celebration is just the opposite! Today is dedicated to slowing down, looking up, and appreciating the beauty above you. Whether the day is sunny, cloudy, rainy, or downright stormy, the sky is always intriguing. Today take some time to scan the skies; make shapes of the clouds, appreciate how tall some trees really are, watch birds flit overhead, or just take in the depth of color. Be inspired – and Relax!

The Knowing Book

Written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich | Illustrated by Matthew Cordell


A little bunny opens the door to a wide world. But before starting on life’s adventure, the bunny receives some gentile advice and reassurance: As you start on your journey, it’s good to begin with something you know. If you wonder what that is, look up at the sky. You know it has always been above you and will remain that way forever. Taking your first steps, carry that assurance with you as you choose which door, path, or trail you will take. You may get lost, but embrace the hum or cry that comes from inside because they will help.


Image copyright Matthew Cordell, 2016, text copyright Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Courtesy of Boyds Mills Press.

You can be sure that magic is all around you. But you must look because sometimes it’s found in the most unexpected places. Take quiet time to imagine what’s out there and for others to get to know you then step into the unknown. Carry a map, curiosity, and adventure and trust yourself. You will know when to run toward something and when to run away.


Image copyright Matthew Cordell, 2016, text copyright Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Courtesy of Boyds Mills Press.

Pretending leads to knowledge, so play at who you are and who you aren’t; what you want and what you don’t want, and let your imagination fly. Don’t lose sight of the small things, the fun things, the childhood things because these are invaluable. Always listen to yourself, for you know the song in your heart.


Image copyright Matthew Cordell, 2016, text copyright Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Courtesy of Boyds Mills Press.

As the sky darkens, look again. “It holds a wing, a hoot, a chill. Allow the breeze of each to slip through the cracks of your window and into your sleep.” And when you look up into the night sky never forget that the stars have always been above you and always will be, and that “all the paths you take will join to lead you home.”


Image copyright Matthew Cordell, 2016, text copyright Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Courtesy of Boyds Mills Press.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s The Knowing Book is a lyrical tribute to the inner voice that guides each person on their life’s journey. The assurance that every action, song, imagining, and path combine to create the person you are meant to be resonates, whether the reader is a child just starting off to kindergarten, a young person graduating from college, or an adult navigating life’s changes. The value of play, reflection, and experimentation as well as the importance of understanding who you are and who you are not is beautifully expressed in this charming and wise picture book.


Image copyright Matthew Cordell, 2016, text copyright Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Courtesy of Boyds Mills Press.

Venturing out into the world Matthew Cordell’s sweet rabbit embraces the sky with the kind of beaming smile seen on excited children. The rabbit picks up a friend and together they explore the world. Cordell’s softly illuminated images in blues, yellows, pinks, and greens are appropriately uncluttered, leaving the particular experiences open to each individual reader. The buuny and bird travel to the vast seaside, over undeveloped fields, and through dreamy landscapes of imagination. They look up into the endless blue sky of day and the deep mystery of night. It’s only when the rabbit returns home that details are sketched in.

The Knowing Book is a beautiful reminder of the whims of life and a gentile reassurance of one’s ability to flourish. As it invites multiple readings for so many occasions, The Knowing Book would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Ages 5 and up

Boyds Mills Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1590789261

Look Up In the Sky Day Activity

CPB - Cloud craft

Fluffy Clouds Craft


It’s fun looking up at the clouds and imagining what shapes you see. Bring those fluffy, white clouds into your room with this craft!


  • White girls’ dress bobby socks in various sizes
  • Fiber fill, 20-ounce bag
  • Fishing line, different lengths
  • Needle
  • Clear adhesive mountable hooks or clips


  1. Stuff the socks with fiber fill, pushing it far into the sock and adding more here and there to make various lumps and give it a rounded, cloud-like shape
  2. When the sock is full, tuck the end of the sock in to close it
  3. Cut lengths of fishing line. The lengths will depend on how and where you will hang the clouds
  4. With the needle or by hand, feed one end of the fishing line into the top of the sock and out to attach the line for hanging.
  5. Knot the fishing line
  6. Attach the mountable hooks or clips to the ceiling
  7. Hang your clouds!

April 1 – National One Cent Day

A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many? by Brian Cleary and Brian Gable Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Do you pick up a penny on the street or step over it as worthless? If you do the latter, you might want to reconsider. Today we celebrate the one-cent coin and its historical and artistic significance. The penny has been in circulation since 1793 and derives its name from the English “penny” but is pluralized in the US as “pennies” instead of the British “pence.”

It wasn’t until 1909 that Abraham Lincoln’s face appeared on the coin as part of President Roosevelt’s initiative to improve the artistic nature of the country’s coinage. Roosevelt enlisted famed sculptor August Saint-Gaudens to design the new penny, as well as the other gold pieces in use at the time. While the designs of other coins have changed over the years, Lincoln has remained the iconic image on the copper-colored penny.

While a single penny may not buy much these days, added together they can still make a difference. And remember the old adage: Find a penny pick it up. All the day you’ll have good luck!

A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many?

Written by Brian P. Cleary | Illustrated by Brian Gable


Part of the Math is CATegorical series, this book is all about money—what it looks like, what it’s used for, and how the different denominations add up to equal the same price for a desired or needed item. Each two-page spread relates in verse a little lesson. The book opens with a general definition of money: “Money is the term for coins and bills that people use / to buy things such as pizzas, pencils, planes, and chains and shoes.”

Kids learn the names of our coins, what they are made of, and the value of each. They discover that coins can be added together or mixed and matched—10 pennies equal a dime; two dimes and a nickel equal a quarter, and so on. The story moves to a dollar store, where the cats buy different items with various combinations of coins. Jenny has 4 quarters, while her brother has 10 dimes. Anna has 100 pennies and Zack is carrying 7 dimes, 1 quarter, and 5 pennies. Kids see that all of these combinations have the same value.

Paper money is up next. A short description of the minting process leads to a discussion of value as the cats purchase a $20 book with various bills.

Brian Cleary’s catchy rhymes and straightforward explanations make this a perfect book for introducing money, its value, and the mathematical concepts of addition, subtraction, and multiplication of using money to buy things.

Brian Gable’s well-known comical cats of the series walk kids through the pages as they ponder prices on items on the shelf and the amount of money in their pocket. The cats’ humorous expressions and silly situations turn this money math lesson into a funny and fun experience. The brightly colored pages focus on the coins and bills, which are clearly displayed, and the direct connections between this money and the objects being bought is obvious.

Ages 5 – 9

Millbrook Press, 2012 | ISBN 978-0822578826

National One Cent Day Activity

CPB - Penny matching

Count Your Pennies! Matching Game


Counting pennies can be so much fun! Saving them can be even better! Collect enough pennies and you can buy something special or donate to your favorite cause! In this printable Count Your Pennies! matching game, draw a line from the stack of pennies to the object they will buy.

March 30 – National Pencil Day

The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Writers and artists, this day is for you! On this date in 1858 Hymen Lipman received a patent for the very first graphite pencil with an eraser attached. Lipman must have been an optimist because the pencil he created was ¾ graphite and ¼ India rubber eraser. The user would sharpen both ends to expose the material. There are conflicting reports on why most pencils sport that familiar yellow hue, but both agree that the color was associated with grandeur. One fascinating fact about this most noble instrument is that a single one can pen pencil 45,000 words or draw a line 35 miles long!

So sharpen those pencils—whatever color they are—and spend this day creating something wonderful!

The Pencil

Written by Allan Ahlberg | Illustrated by Bruce Ingman


Even before the title page readers learn of a little pencil, alone in the world. One day the pencil quivers and begins to draw. The pencil draws a boy, who asks for a name, and receives “Banjo” in reply. The boy wants a dog, and the pencil obliges. Bruce is the dog’s name, and he wants a cat. Mildred is immediately created, and of course Bruce chases Mildred. Banjo chases Bruce. They need a place to run, so the pencil draws a house, a town, and a park.

All this excitement makes the trio hungry and tired. Banjo demands the pencil draw him an apple, Bruce wants a bone, and Mildred really wants a mouse but settles for cat food. There’s just one problem—the food is so unappetizing in black and white. The pencil thinks for a bit and comes up with a solution. He draws a paintbrush named Kitty. Kitty colors the food, the boy, the dog, the house, the town, and the park. Mildred is left as created – she’s a black-and-white cat anyway.

The team of Pencil and Paintbrush create a family, a friend for Bruce, a ball (Sebastian) for Banjo, and a kitten for Mildred. But all these extra characters cause trouble. Sebastian breaks a window, and the mom, dad, sister, and grandpa aren’t completely satisfied with their traits. What’s a pencil to do? Draw an Eraser, of course!

The eraser takes care of the problems, but grows fond of his power to rub things out. He erases the table, chair, front door—the whole house. And that’s not all! Nothing the Pencil and Paintbrush have created is safe. Eraser rubs everything out until all that’s left is the pencil and the eraser locked in opposition.

The pencil draws a wall, a cage, a river and mountains with fierce animals but none of it is a match for the eraser. Then the pencil has a brainstorm and draws…another eraser! The two erasers engage in an epic battle, and in the end they rub each other out.

The Pencil recreates everything he had before, and Kitty colors it all in, including a new picnic with a runaway boiled egg named Billy and 10 A-named ants to clean up the crumbs. As the day fades into night, a moon appears in the sky along with a cozy box for Pencil and Paintbrush to sleep in.

Allen Ahlberg’s endearing story of a little pencil who creates himself a world full of friends and excitement as well as the inevitable conflict will appeal to kids for whom the imagination looms large and even competes with and enhances reality. On a subtle metaphorical level, as the eraser rubs out everything in its path, kids may see that simply getting rid of problems can sometimes cause more, and that resolution is a better tact.

Bruce Ingman’s illustrations deftly depict the friendship and collaboration between Pencil and Paintbrush. Graphite lines outline the characters and objects that Pencil draws, and the colorful accents from Paintbrush are vivid and joyful.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2012 | ISBN 978-0763660888

National Pencil Day Activity

CPB - Pencil Maze

Pencil It In! Maze


Line up here to test your skills against this printable Pencil It In! pencil-shaped maze. Solution included. Sharpen your pencil and start having fun!

Picture Book Review