June 15 – Smile Power Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-cover

About the Holiday

We smile at people all day long, don’t we? I mean there’s 🙂  😀  🙂  😉  and so many more! But how about the real kind? Giving a warm smile to a friend, a stranger, or—especially—someone who looks as if they need one, makes everyone feel better! Today, be happy and welcome all with a smile!

Welcome

By Barroux

 

A polar bear is sitting on the edge of an ice floe enjoying some relaxing time with his friends when he hears an ominous noise. “CRACK! The ice breaks! ‘We’re drifting away!’” his friends cry. In no time at all the three polar bears are adrift in the middle of the sea in need of a new home. They float and float, but “the water goes on forever!” To pass the time the friends play games: “‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with W…’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-polar-bears-relaxing

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

Perhaps days go by. The bears ride out a storm with dark skies and huge waves that threaten to sink them. It’s scary and the trio wants “to find a new home right now!” At last, their ice floe—smaller now—approaches a sandy shore. “Land! We’re saved,” cheer the polar bears. They ask the cows on the beach if they can live there, but the cows take exception. The bears are “too furry…too tall…and too bear-ish.” And with a “Sorry!” the cows turn the weary travelers away.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-ice-breaks-away

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

Once again on their own, the bears have no choice but to let the current steer them. With standing room for only one on their icy raft, they near another beach where a single panda relaxes on pillows in the midst of expansive land. “Yes! This could be our new home,” the polar bears shout. The panda ponders the situation for only a moment before stating, “‘…you are too many. Look around, there’s just not enough room! You can’t live here.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-polar-bears-meet-cows

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

As the polar bears continue on their journey, their “little ice boat has almost melted,” and they are running out of time. They bob next to a tall sea wall. “‘Help us!’” they plead. Behind the wall two giraffes lounge on the beach, too lazy to investigate the noise they hear. The ice floe has melted to a thin disk. The bears are hanging on and about to give up hope when they find an empty island. They jump to shore just in the nick of time and begin enjoying their new home.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-polar-bears-adrift

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

It’s not long before a dinghy floats into view with three monkeys on board. “‘Excuse me, we’re looking for a new home. Can you help us please?’” they ask. The polar bears stop their game of badminton and step forward. “‘Hmmm,’” they think. “‘You are…

Welcome!’”

With vibrant blue, full-bleed pages as wide open as the sea itself and three endearing long-nosed polar bears, Barroux has crafted a poignant tale with depth and far-reaching applications for readers of all ages. Inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis, Welcome stands on its own as an uplifting story of friendship and inclusiveness, but also offers an excellent means for beginning a discussion on the world events that children see and have questions about. Employing a bear’s first person point of view and incorporating a child-centric perspective on travel—from the humor of the I Spy game to the perseverance of the bears—Barroux sets just the right tone for his audience.

With sparse text and repetition of the bears’ simple request, the subject matter is handled with sensitivity, not fright, which allows children to understand that the theme of the story is relevant on many levels. Whether the “traveler” comes from near or far, is a classmate, teammate or neighbor, or is even the reader or someone else feeling adrift in a certain situation, children will see that all deserve welcome.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499804447

You can view a gallery of illustration work for children, adults, and more by Barroux on his website!

Smile Power Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-UN-day-puzzle

Give Me Your Hand! Puzzle

 

In this printable Give Me Your Hand! Puzzle, everyone is welcomed with a handshake. Offering friendship to all, the interchangeable pieces can be mixed and matched as the animals become buddies with one another.

Supplies

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-UN-day-puzzle

Copyright Conor Carroll, courtesy of celebratepicturebooks.com

Directions

  1. Print the puzzle: to make the puzzle sturdier: Print on heavy stock paper or glue the page to poster board
  2. Color the pictures with colored pencils or crayons
  3. Cut the pieces apart
  4. Switch the pieces around to make many alternate pictures
celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-UN-day-puzzle

Copyright Conor Carroll, courtesy of celebratepicturebooks.com

Picture Book Review

June 14 – International Bath Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday encompasses so much more than keeping clean. Sure, a soaking in a tub of warm water is necessary and relaxing, but did you know that a bath is responsible for a mathematical and a linguistic discovery? The story goes that on or around June 14 in the year 287 BCE, the Greek mathematician, scientist, and scholar Archimedes realized that an object’s volume could accurately be measured when submerged in water. Archimedes was so excited about his revelation that he jumped from the tub shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!” as he ran through the streets of Syracuse. Thus both a scientific principle and a new word were born! To celebrate today, take some time for yourself and indulge in a nice long soak!

Around the World in a Bathtub: Bathing All Over the Globe

Written by Wade Bradford | Illustrated by Micha Archer

 

Even as you’re reading this, in some house somewhere in the world “water is filling up a bathtub, steam is fogging up a mirror, washcloths and rubber duckies are waiting…” They are waiting for the little boy who is running away, not wanting to stop playing to take a bath. “No, no!” he giggles as he scampers away. But maybe he can find a way to combine both. He leads his mom on a chase that ends up with a cannonball splash into the tub. Taking a bath is something that happens everywhere in the world, but in different ways.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-around-the-world-in-a-bathtub-splash

Image copyright Micha Archer, text copyright Wade Bradford. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

In Japan a grandmother washes her granddaughter’s face and hair before she climbs into the deep, square tub, called an ofuro. Baths are taken in an orderly fashion, with the oldest family member going first and the youngest going last.

“In Turkey, families visit an enormous bathhouse called a hammam. Attendants scrub the bathers with rough cloths and strong soap. After the scrubbing, the children are given slippers and towels.” Afterward, they relax in the sauna, where they can wear mud masks to soothe their skin. In India families “honor their ancestors by bathing in the Ganges River.” The water may be too cold for little ones, who resist—“Nahi, Nahi!”—as they dip their toes in.

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Image copyright Micha Archer, text copyright Wade Bradford. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

On the snowy tundra in Alaska a Yup’ik family braves the weather to go to the makii—a wooden cabin. Inside, a young brother and sister wait while their grandfather lights a fire to heat the stones. When they are hot, steam fills the room and sweat drips, cleaning them. But the cabin is too hot now, and the little boy protests, “Qang-a, qang-a!”

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Image copyright Micha Archer, text copyright Wade Bradford. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

It’s true that for thousands of years, children have run away from taking a bath—whether they washed up in natural waterfalls or with oils and perfumes in ancient Egypt—and in the future they will continue to “say no to bath time as they float around in a space station.”  So it doesn’t matter if kids are washing in Australian bogey holes, Himalayan hot springs, South African lakes, or even atop a South American volcano, they will always say, “No, no!” when getting in but “Yes, yes!” to staying in longer.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-around-the-world-in-a-bathtub-volcano

Image copyright Micha Archer, text copyright Wade Bradford. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

More descriptions of bathing customs as well as bathtubs and bathhouses around the world follow the text.

With humor and heart, Wade Bradford invites kids to jump in and learn about a customary activity that unites us all. Listening in as children first protest taking a bath and then beg for a little more time, readers will understand that people are the same around the globe. Including ancient history as well as a peek into the future extends the connection we all have to this basic need and may begin a discussion of what bathing could be like in years to come—both more immediate and farther afield. The variety of bathing spots will captivate children and make them wish they could take the plunge in these places themselves. The introduction of the words Yes and No in eight languages provides another wonderful way to interact with the book and with multicultural learning.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-around-the-world-in-a-bathtub-japan

Image copyright Micha Archer, text copyright Wade Bradford. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

Micha Archer’s gorgeous and distinctive illustrations made from oils and custom made paper collages are stunning representations of outdoor and indoor bathing spots. The lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and volcano are surrounded by vibrant foliage, majestic buildings, and wind-whipped waves. The tubs, saunas, bathhouses and cabins have their own particular charms as children relax and get clean as the steam rises.

Around the World in a Bathtub is an excellent introduction for young readers to their peers and the world around them in both traditions and language. A great addition to classroom, school, and public libraries, the book may also inspire kids to try a different custom.

Ages 3 – 7

Charlesbridge, 2017 | ISBN 978-1580895446

Learn more about Wade Bradford, his books, and plays on his website

View a gallery of art and books by Micha Archer on her wesite!

International Bath Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bathtub-clings-Conor-separate-with-fish

Homemade Bathtub Clings

Instead of buying bathtub clings for your kids to play with, make some yourself! It’s easy with regular foam sheets, cookie cutters or stencils, and scissors! Make it a family activity and watch the shower of creativity that results!

Supplies

  • Foam sheets in various colors
  • Cookie cutters or stencils
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Trace cookie cutter shapes or stencils onto the foam 
  2. And/Or cut squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, and other shapes from the foam in a variety of sizes
  3. Cut out the shapes
  4. Wet the backs of the shapes with water and stick them to the tub or tiled or lined wall. Shapes will also stick with a little shaving gel or cream applied

Picture Book Review

June 13 – It’s National Camping Month

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About the Holiday

Early summer is the perfect time to plan a camping trip. There are so many beautiful out-of-the-way places to explore from a camper or a tent. Spending quality time with friends or family on a hike or around a campfire can be surprising, low-tech fun that can challenge and exhilarate. 

Rhoda’s Rock Hunt

Written by Molly Beth Griffin | Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell

 

Rhoda goes camping with her Auntie June and Uncle Jonah. On a days-long hike, her shower was a “bucket of cold lake water, dinner was salami and cheese, and her bed was a skinny little pad and ratty sleeping bag.” But Rhoda puts up with it all because along the way she finds rocks—and Rhoda loves rocks.

Auntie June doesn’t mind Rhoda’s collecting rocks—as long as she carries them in her own pack. Rhoda agrees. One day while hiking through a birch forest Rhoda spies “jagged rocks and bumpy rocks and one with tiny sparkly bits that glinted in the dappled sunlight. Ooo!” Rhoda puts them all in her pack and trudges on, sweating a bit with the effort.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rhoda's-rock-hunt-crossing stream

Image copyright Jennifer A. Bell, courtesy of jenniferabell.com

The next day while crossing a stream, Rhoda reaches into the cool, flowing water and comes up with a bunch of smooth stones. One has “a curve that fit into her palm just right. Ooo! Into the pack they all went—Yarg!” Rhoda is beginning to slump under the weight of her pack, but she continues on. After a sleepless night, Rhoda is tired, hungry, dirty, and a little bit crabby—until she sees the lake. “Waves crashed on the shore, and gulls called overhead. The water stretched out to the horizon, and the beach was covered with millions and billions of rocks!”

Rhoda lies on the “sun-warmed treasures,” studying the beauty of each stone. She finds red ones, blue ones, and stripy ones. “Then she discovered tiny banded ones that glowed the color of sunsets. Ooo!” She pours them all into her pack. When Auntie June and Uncle Jonah tell her it’s time to go, Rhoda grabs her pack, but it stays put. She pushes, pulls, and tugs, but the bag doesn’t budge. With no one to help carry her pack or any of the rocks, Rhoda has a hard decision to make. She doesn’t want to give up any of her stones, but she knows she must.

Then she has an idea. Carefully working “with the weight of each rock, with the curves and bumps and bulges of each rock,” she stacks them on a flat slab of stone near the water’s edge until they all “balanced in perfect towers.” Well, almost all. Into her pockets “went the one glinting forest rock, and the one palm-snuggling river rock, and a small handful of tiny glowing agates from the Big Lake.”

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Image copyright Jennifer A. Bell, courtesy of jenniferabell.com

As she heads on her way she looks back at her rock cairns—her gift to others passing by—and continues on with Auntie June and Uncle Jonah to the cabin. There, on her windowsill, she builds her own cairns from her beloved treasures.

Collectors everywhere will relate to Rhoda and her enthusiastic gathering of treasures beyond price. Each one is unique and almost calls out to be taken along life’s road. As Rhoda discovers, however, the physical items can begin to weigh you down, impeding progress. Molly Beth Griffin, in her distinctive and quietly powerful book, remind readers that freedom and happiness come from sharing your talents and treasures—and yourself—with others. With evocative description of a camping trip (and well-placed expressions of “Ooo!”), Griffin captures with honesty, grace, and humor the vexations and thrills of childhood.

Jennifer A. Bell gorgeously depicts the forest with its birch stands, rushing streams, vast lake, and variety of stones in soft greens, reds, purples, and blues that blend to reflect the depth and beauty of nature. Adorable Rhoda expresses the range of emotions—from excitement in finding her beloved rocks to annoyance at the travails of camping—that readers will recognize and respond to. Detailed illustrations of the rocks Rhoda finds reveal their attraction to the young collector, and the final spread of the cairns Rhoda builds will have kids wanting to build their own.

A wonderful accompaniment to a hike or camping trip and a quietly inspirational read, Rhoda’s Rock Hunt would make a welcome addition to children’s bookshelves.

Ages 3 – 8

Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-0873519502

To see more books by Molly Beth Griffin for children and young adults, visit her website!

View Jennifer A. Bell’s illustration work for picture books, chapter books, and more on her website!

National Camping Month Activity

CPB - Nasty Bugs magnet II (2)

Rock This Craft!

 

Around a campsite or on a hike you can find smooth stones that would give talented artists like yourself a natural canvas for your creativity! With a little bit of paint, pins or magnets, and some imagination, you can make refrigerator magnets, jewelry, paper weights, and more!

Supplies

  • Smooth stones in various sizes
  • Paint or markers
  • Small magnets, available at craft stores
  • Jewelry pins, available at craft stores
  • Paint brush
  • Strong glue

Directions

To make magnets

  1. Design and paint an image on the stone
  2. Attach a magnet to the back with strong glue, let dry
  3. Use to hang pictures, notes, or other bits of important stuff on your refrigerator or magnetic board

To make jewelry

  1. Using a smaller, flatter stone, design and paint an image on the stone
  2. Attach a jewelry pin to the back with the strong glue, let dry
  3. Wear your pin proudly

To make a paper weight

  1. Using a large stone, design and paint an image on the stone
  2. Let dry
  3. Display and use on your desk to keep those papers in place

Picture Book Review

June 12 – It’s Adopt a Cat Month

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About the Holiday

Cats make wonderful pets! They can be cuddly or completely independent, but their playful personalities make for lots of laughs and love. If you own a cat, spend some extra time with your pet and ensure that all of your feline friend’s health needs are being met and are up-to-date. If you think you might like to adopt a cat into your family, visit your local animal shelter for cats and kittens who are looking for a forever home.

Lily’s Cat Mask

By Julie Fortenberry

 

Lily was starting school so her dad took her shopping. “Lily wasn’t sure she wanted to get new things for school, but her father said it would be fun.” After buying some clothes and meeting a woman they knew who gushed at how much Lily had grown, Lily was tired and wanted to go home. “But then she saw the cat mask.” It was the only one on the shelf, and Lily’s dad surprised her by buying it for her.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lily's-cat-mask-shopping-with-dad

Copyright Julie Fortenberry, 2017, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Lily put it on immediately and wore it on the way home. She wore it to tea parties with her toys, to family parties “when she wanted to be invisible. And when she wanted to be noticed.” When she wore it to her doctor’s appointment, the doctor spoke in meows. One day she lost her mask. Her dad made her a rabbit costume, and while that was fun for a while, Lily was happy to finally find her cat mask.

Lily wore her cat mask for many occasions. She wore it when she didn’t want to talk—like when she met her new teacher. “She liked to hide her face when she felt mean and couldn’t get nice.” She even blew out her birthday candles and made a wish wearing the mask. When school started, Lily was only allowed to wear her mask on the playground, but once in a while she put it on, hoping no one would notice. Then it was sometimes put in the teacher’s desk drawer.

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Copyright Julie Fortenberry, 2017, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

One day, the teacher made a very exciting announcement. The class was going to have a costume party, and everyone could wear a mask or dress up however they wanted. On the day of the party, there were characters, animals, and bugs of all kinds. But then Lily looked across the room and saw the best costume of all—another cat! During recess the new friends played on the swings and meowed happily together.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lily's-cat-mask-lily-at-school

Copyright Julie Fortenberry, 2017, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Julie Fortenberry’s story of a quiet, hesitant child who discovers a unique way of interacting with the world around her offers openhearted acceptance and understanding for children who are observant and thoughtful integrators. The reaction of Lily’s father, teacher, doctor, and family members to her cat mask is uplifting and provides excellent modeling. The straightforward storytelling highlights Lily’s sweet personality as well as the empathetic responses her costume elicits.

Fotenberry’s illustrations of adorable Lily and her experiences at home, at school, at the doctor’s office, and at the mall are full of joy. The colors are fresh and vibrant, but also calm and peaceful, mirroring Lily’s feelings when wearing her cat mask. The images demonstrate and validate Lily’s preference to watch and participate in events from her own distance.

Lily’s Cat Mask provides the opportunity for much discussion with children, especially about meeting people, Lily’s birthday wish, where Lily sits and plays at parties and at school, and when Lily makes a friend. The book is highly recommended for classroom and school libraries and would make a welcome addition to home bookshelves as well.

Ages 4 – 7

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0425287996

Discover more about Julie Fortenberry and view a gallery of her books and artwork on her website!

Adopt a Cat Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-The-Cat's-Meow-Word-Search

The Cat’s Meow Word Search

 

There are so many beautiful types of cats! Can you find the names of twenty-one breeds in this printable The Cat’s Meow Word Search puzzle? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

June 11 – National Corn on the Cob Day

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About the Holiday

One of the culinary delights of summer is corn on the cob. Whether your favorite kernels are yellow, butter and sugar, or white, corn on the cob is sweet hand-held comfort food that goes with dinner, picnics, barbeques, and any summertime party. By now, most places have piles of corn to pick from. Shucks! Today might be the perfect time to cook some up and enjoy!

Bob & Rob & Corn on the Cob

By Todd McQueen

 

Bob is a fedora- and glasses-wearing squirrel who has his eyes on a lonely piece of corn on the cob. Rob is a party hat-wearing squirrel who’s got his little paws secured around corn on the cob handles and is about to take a bite. You can tell that “these two squirrels love corn on the cob.” A dapper duck and a mannerly, bib-wearing dog does too. (Hey! Who’s that little silver guy looking for Mama?) But rabbit Ella Mae Dobbs, who’s “a bit of a snob” does not like corn on the cob.

A chicken in her stocking cap and a piggy with a curl on top also love corn. (Wait! That adorable silver machine with the claw-like fingers is back looking for Mama.) “Ella Mae Dobbs loves pan-seared tofu. With carrots cut curly and hot cheese fondue.” This pronouncement sounds odd to the rest of the crew, so “the duck looked at Rob. The pig looked at Bob. But they just kept on crunching their corn on the cob.” (While our little silver friend—who sports a thin antenna and a fine set of teeth—is looking straight off the page. Could you be his Mama?)

While the robot wants Mama, and Ella Mae wants a kabob, Bob whispers to Rob that he’d like “to see Ella eat corn on the cob.” They offer a deal—Bob will try carrots and Rob will try tofu, but only if Ella tries corn on the cob. But Ella says, “Oh boo.” Bob’s already taken a bit of a carrot, and Rob’s nibbled tofu from a fork. And Ella Mae? She’s contemplating the corn on her plate as the robot peers over the table.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bob-&-rob-&-corn-on-the-cob-squirrels

Image copyright Todd McQueen, 2104, courtesy of Sky Pony Press.

With his long robot arm, the little guy reaches and grabs onto one handle as Ella decides that maybe, just maybe, with some seasoning the corn could be…. But suddenly, like a weightlifter, the Robot lifts the corn over his head! He slices! He dices! He adds tomato, zucchini, broccoli, and eggplant in a spectacular kabob! Then with a flame that shoots from his hand, he grills it all up until…Pop! Pop! Pop!…this culinary masterpiece lands on Ella’s plate. She declares it “interesting!”

So it’s true—“Bob and Rob love corn on the cob. They even love tofu.” (Well, that last part’s a little fib.) But they all agree on one thing: “that nothing’s quite as fun as POPPED! corn on the cob.”

And what about our little robot buddy? He finally found his Mama—a shiny corn cutter and popper all in one!

Todd McQueen’s tribute to corn on the cob is a funny read-aloud that—of course!—stars two squirrels eager to chomp into their favorite sweet delicacy. Their wish to share their snack with stubborn Ella Mae sets up a bounding duel of wits that is sure to make kids laugh. The addition of the little robot who’s lost his mama adds a bit of mystery, and when he suddenly whips up a whopper of a kabob, a surprised “Whoa!” is sure to pop from wide-eyed young readers. The story is a delicious reminder that even if friend’s tastes differ, they can usually find something to agree on.

McQueen’s dry wit shines through in his illustrations of various famous corn-eaters trying to attract a very chic and sophisticated rabbit to join in the fun of simple corn on the cob. The shiny robot is a cutie, who kids will love to follow from page to page. The duck and Rob’s obvious dislike of tofu should make little ones giggle, and kids who like counting will be happy with all of the corn cobs waiting to be pointed out.

A perfect book to read while munching on popcorn or to take along to a barbeque or picnic, Bob & Rob & Corn on the Cob is just right for free-and-easy summertime reading.

Ages 3 – 6

Sky Pony Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-1628735918

Corn on the Cob Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-corn-maze

Crazy about Corn! Maze

 

A group of friends are having a barbeque, but they need some corn on the cob. Can you find your way through this printable Crazy about Corn! Maze to deliver it to them? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

June 10 – Worldwide Knit in Public Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ned-the-knitting-pirate-cover

About the Holiday

Knitter Danielle Landis established Worldwide Knit in Public Day to demonstrate that knitting is not just for women of a certain age—and there are plenty of people who agree with her! Girls and boys, women and men enjoy this relaxing and productive hobby. The fuzzy hats, cozy scarves, and warm sweaters that grow from two thin needles are amazing and are some of the best parts of winter. If you are a knitter, take your yarn and needles out for the day. If you don’t yet know the skill of knitting, today’s a perfect time to start!

Ned the Knitting Pirate

Written by Diana Murray | Illustrated by Leslie Lammle

 

“Listen to the legend of the crew that sailed the deep / aboard a tattered pirate ship they called the Rusty Heap.” These pirates were as fierce as they come, with a captain who took no guff and rag-tag mateys who went about their sailing, swabbing, eating, and looting with a song on their lips. Let’s take a listen: “We’re tougher than gristle and barnacle grit. / We heave, and we ho, and we swab, and we…KNIT!!!” Knit??

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ned-the-knitting-pirate-swabbing-the-deck

Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

You bet! Ned loves to knit! But the captain not be feeling it. In fact, he put his peg foot down. “I won’t be hearing that! / A scurvy pirate doesn’t knit, nor wear a fuzzy hat.” There was no time for knit-picking though; the crew was ready to do some looting. They rowed the dinghy out to an island and started to dig. And lo and behold, they uncovered chests of gold. While the rest of the pirates danced and sang about their good fortune, though, Ned leaned back against a tree and continued working on his knitting.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ned-the-knitting-pirate-taking-the-loot

Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

That night the galley was alive with great cheer as the pirates celebrated. “We’re pirates, we’re pirates, out sailing the sea, / as scary and hairy as any could be. / We’re grouchy and slouchy. We don’t ever quit! / We slurp, and we burp, and we gulp, and we…KNIT!!!” Arrrgh! The captain blew his top! He was so steamed “he turned as red as lobster stew.” But Ned wasn’t going to back down—until the captain threatened him with walking the plank.

Sadly, Ned went back to his bunk and packed away his fuzzy hat, “his needles, his balls of yarn, and skull-trim applique. / He folded up his blanket with the jolly roger crest, / and stashed it with the knitted scarves, the mittens, and the rest.” In the middle of the night, the crew was awakened by an ominous splash, and the captain hollered for all hands on deck.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ned-the-knitting-pirate-ocean-beast

Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

There, just off the starboard side, they saw “the briny ocean beast, / who loved to snack on pirate ships—his favorite floating feast. / His tentacles were thick with slime, his eyes a ghastly yellow, / and cannonballs bounced off his sides as if his skin was Jell-O.” The beast was snacking on the ship’s sail when Ned hurried back to his bunk and pulled out his trunk. He readied the catapult and with a sproing whipped his knitted blanket straight at the beast.

The monster fell back into the sea, cozily covered by the fuzzy blanket. With a yawn, he fell asleep—not to wake again for one hundred years. The happy pirates danced a jig, sang their song, and…learned to knit. After all, the sail needed mending and they all needed new fuzzy hats. The captain even got a specially made cape. Now when they sing their pirate ditty, it goes like this: “Were pirates, we’re pirates, out sailing the sea. / We do what we likes, and we likes to be free. / We’re tougher than gristle and barnacle grit. / We heave, and we ho, and we swab, and we…KNIT!!!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ned-the-knitting-pirate-ned

Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Diana Murray’s sea yarn is a fun addition to the pirate picture book genre with an original hero, a slimy nemesis, an ingenious solution, and a rollicking rhyme that weaves it all together. Ned, with his knitted tri-corn hat and fresh face is a bit of an outsider who sticks to his needles, despite the needling he gets. He makes for a good role model for kids who might be doubtful about showing their true likes and personalities in a group. Kids will love this book as a read-aloud and will want to join in on the pirate song. Young readers may even be inspired to learn to knit to make their own special cozy.

Leslie Lammle’s briny deep is home to a crew of rakish pirates who among them boast bare feet, one eye patch, one wooden leg, a hook hand, and, of course, a shoulder-sitting parrot. Kids will love sitting around the table with the mates and captain as they dish up some grub, and laugh when the captain blows his top at Ned’s constant knitting. Lammle’s ocean beast is scaly and toothy, but not too scary for little ones, and kids will appreciate Ned’s quick thinking. Readers will enjoy following the mermaid and trying to predict what will happen next in the story. During a second read, kids will see that she was trying to warn the pirates all along.

For kids who like pirate stories and crafts, Ned the Knitting Pirate will find a purl-fect spot on their bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 9

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1596438903

You’ll find more about Diana Murray and her books on her website!

Check out a gallery of illustration work and books by Leslie Lammle on her website!

Worldwide Knit in Public Day Activity

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Knitting is Kneat! Word Search Puzzle

 

Knitting is a fun and creative hobby! Can you find the eighteen knitting-related words in this printable Knitting is Kneat! Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

June 9 – It’s National Family Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-great-being-a-dad

About the Holiday

The weeks between Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June have been designated as National Family Month. This time gives us the opportunity to honor everything that makes a group of people a family. Shared experiences and memories—and especially love—create that unique feeling in the heart that defines family. To celebrate, get the family together for some fun!

It’s Great Being a Dad

Written by Dan Bar-el | Illustrated by Gina Perry

 

A lovely pink unicorn with a sparkling rainbow horn clip-clops over a grassy hill, a golden castle and a candy forest in the background. The playful animal believes it’s “great being a unicorn. Who wouldn’t want to be a unicorn?” What makes them so special? Well…as she says, “We’re terrific at prancing and we’re very pretty and, best of all, we have an adorable horn just above our eyebrows.” It’s hard to argue with those reasons!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-great-being-a-dad

Image copyright Gina Perry, text copyright Dan Bar-el. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

But it seems there are some downsides to this whole unicorn thing. Grazing might be at the top of the list. That shiny horn just always seems to get in the way. There’s no way for teeth to touch the ground, and trying to grab a snack off a table just results in the table stuck on the “adorable horn.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-great-being-a-dad

Image copyright Gina Perry, text copyright Dan Bar-el. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

How about Bigfoot? What’s it like for him? Let’s ask—here comes Bigfoot now! “It’s great being Bigfoot. I love being Bigfoot. Who wouldn’t want to be Bigfoot?” What’s so great about being…you know…. Well…he’s warm in his furry coat, he’s well camouflaged among the trees, and his super strength “can help unicorns get tables off their heads.” Sounds great! What could go wrong? Hmmm…. It seems those big feet get themselves into some sticky situations—like ending up with a tree truck lodged around your leg.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-great-being-a-dad

Image copyright Gina Perry, text copyright Dan Bar-el. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

Maybe being a Robot is better. Indeed! In fact, Robot says, “If I had feelings, I would love being a robot.” Pretty compelling stuff there. Robot is very flashy and has lots of memory and has an arm that can convert into a saw just in time to help “unicorns and Bigfoot with their wood problems.” So what’s not to like? Rain can really mess with the mo(tor)-jo.

Poor Loch Ness Monster! She’s not even going to try being positive. It kind of stinks being a monster—especially when you don’t feel like one. But maybe things aren’t all bad. Unicorn, Bigfoot, and Robot hitch a ride on Nessie’s back across the lake to the hospital. There they meet a “fairy queen ballerina doctor” who loves being a fairy queen ballerina doctor. Who wouldn’t?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-great-being-a-dad

Image copyright Gina Perry, text copyright Dan Bar-el. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

This Jill-of-all-trades can prescribe medicine for the sick, “perform a happy dance” for the sad, and wave her magic wand “if you have trouble with your saw arm…or your head horn or your big foot.” Sounds perfect…until a “sneaky flying alligator pirate” swoops in and swipes the magic wand just as the fairy queen ballerina doctor is about the save the day. “Dad!”

Ha! Ha! This little guy is super excited to be a sneaky flying alligator pirate. “I’m sneaky, so you never see me coming. I can fly, so you can never catch me. And… And…that’s enough reasons. So what’s not to like about being a sneaky flying alligator pirate?” Ooof! “Dads, that’s what!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-great-being-a-dad

Image copyright Gina Perry, text copyright Dan Bar-el. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

But how does Dad feel about being a dad? Let’s see: “It’s great being a dad. I love being a dad.” It does look pretty fun! Dad gets to remove pizza box “tables” from hobby horse unicorns; remove stepped-on drums from a brown-fuzzy-hoodied-and-hiking-booted Bigfoot; fix cardboard saw arms; give medals to super swimmers; and “return magic wands to… to… ‘Fairy queen ballerina doctors. I told you a million times already.’ Right. What she said.” Plus Dad can help little brothers play nicely.

So you must be wondering… “what’s not to like about being a dad? Sudden makeovers, that’s what.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-great-being-a-dad

Image copyright Gina Perry, text copyright Dan Bar-el. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

Dan Bar-el’s laugh-out-loud romp through an afternoon of play hits the perfect tone to entertain kids and adults as well. Bar-el’s wry delivery and repetition of the appealing—and not-so—traits of each fantasy character will have readers giggling and eagerly anticipating the next page. The revelation that the characters are kids with big imaginations offers multiple payouts in creativity, personalities, friendship, and family.

Gina Perry’s vibrant, whimsical illustrations riff on all the fantasy clichés to ramp up the humor in this vivacious story. When happily-ever-after turns into happily-never-after for each character, Perry amusingly depicts their dismay, but the next page finds them cheerfully adjusted to their new circumstance and weaving it into a revised storyline. As the story wraps up, readers will enjoy pointing out aspects of the kids’ interests and parts of their backyard that spurred their imagination in earlier pages. The diverse group of friends is welcome, and good-natured Dad doesn’t really seem to mind his impromptu makeover.

It’s Great Being a Dad is a perfect book for young readers to share with their own dads and would be an often-read addition to children’s home libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Tundra Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1770496057

Discover more about Dan Bar-el and his books on his website!

You find a gallery of illustration work and books by Gina Perry on her website!

National Family Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-charades-activities-cards

Family Charades

 

Getting together to play charades is a fun way to spend family time with a little bit of thought, a little bit of action, and lots of laughs. You can find lots of charades cards, ideas, and rules at funstufftodo.com.