April 12 – Walk on Your Wild Side Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established to encourage people to have courage and do that thing inside them that might be a little different or way out there, but actually defines them. Without people who have explored those other possibilities, the world would be missing out on some amazing art, inventions, innovations, music, and, of course, books! To celebrate, unleash your inner you or go a little wild. Who knows? It might become a regular thing that makes you happy!

The Catawampus Cat

Written by Jason Carter Eaton | Illustrated by Gus Gordon

 

On a regular Tuesday morning, the catawampus cat came into town “slightly askew.” Everyone was busy, so no one saw him until Mr. Grouse, the grocer, noticed his unusual walk and “tried to straighten him out.” His wife Lydia, who for twenty years had been chilly to her husband, asked what was wrong with the cat, and they both tilted their heads to study him. There, under the vegetable stand, they saw Lydia’s wedding ring lost twenty years before, and suddenly Mr. Grouse noticed that Lydia looked just as she did when they first met. “They kissed and on walked the catawampus cat, still askew…”

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Image copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, text copyright Jason Carter Eaton, 2017. Courtesy of Crown Books for Young People.

The bored barber, “Bob Long, who was giving a woman a long bob,” saw the catawampus cat from his window and was so startled he snipped, and clipped the woman’s bangs at an angle. She loved it, and the catawampus cat continued on. He passed Tom who was painting the Mayor’s house in the usual way until he tilted his head to get a better look and scribbled a diagonal stripe down the front of the house. “‘Brilliant!’ Exclaimed Mayor Meyer. ‘A work of art!’”

The town daredevil made a world record after spotting the cat. The town librarian had a life-changing revelation after seeing the cat. And little Bushy Brows Billiam, suddenly understood his lesson better by looking at things a bit differently.

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Image copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, text copyright Jason Carter Eaton, 2017. Courtesy of Crown Books for Young People.

All through town, people began tilting their head and even walking at a slant. Architects began building homes, apartments, and stores that leaned, and car makers designed “off-kilter” vehicles. The effect on the town and the people was amazing. They found favorite possessions they thought lost forever, “and rediscovered old friends they thought they’d never know again.” The first Tuesday of the year was designated “Catawampus Cat Day.” Confetti was flung at an angle, a band played off-key, and the crowd was entirely catawampus.

“‘Well? What do you think of it?’” Mayer Meyer excitedly asked the catawampus cat. “‘We’re all different now, just like you.’” The catawampus cat gazed at him thoughtfully, then stretched, “straightened himself out…and walked out of town, once again uniquely catawampus.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-catawampus-cat-school

Image copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, text copyright Jason Carter Eaton, 2017. Courtesy of Crown Books for Young People.

In his delightfully inventive story, Jason Carter Eaton rejoices in all those people (and cats) who walk their own way through life. He encourages young readers to embrace their uniqueness, telling them it’s a good thing to view the world with a different perspective. Even as the catawampus cat inspires the townspeople, Eaton strikes a humorous cautionary note about the nature of fads. He also happily reminds readers that the truly innovative will always find a way to be different.

Gus Gordon’s adorably confident cat sets off his chain reaction of “uniqueness” in detailed mixed-media illustrations that provide lots of opportunities for kids to discover new (and old—sometimes even antique) perspectives as they watch the catawampus cat walk through this diverse town in his own particular way. Surprising and funny details drawn in along the way will also have readers lingering and giggling over each page. Cat lovers will recognize some endearing cat-titudes in the catawampus cat that make feline friends so loveable. The endpapers provide a map of the catawampus cat’s route through this very lucky town.

Smile- and laugh-inducing from cover to cover, The Catawampus Cat would be a favorite and often-asked-for choice for home and classroom libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0553509717

To learn more about Gus Gordon, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Walk on Your Wild Side Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wooden-bead-cat-craft

A Little Ball of Kitten Love

 

This sweet little kitten is easy to make and can keep you company on your desk or shelf! Since every kitten is different, you can make yours to look just the way you want. Here’s how I made mine:

Supplies

  • Wooden ball with a flat bottom, available in craft stores and in different sizes
  • Craft paint in any color kitten you’d like (I used red and yellow and mixed it to make a mottled orange)
  • Craft paint in pink or white for the inner ear
  • Scrap of fleece for the ears. Fleece is easily shaped to the rounded ball and when painted is stiff enough to stand up on its own.
  • Thin, colored wire in several colors for the tail (string or twine, wrapped wire, fleece, stiff paper, and other materials could also be used)
  • Paint brush
  • Permanent marker for making the face
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden ball and let dry
  2. Paint the scrap of fleece to match the wooden ball, let dry
  3. Cut out small triangular shapes for the ears. Round the bottom of the ears slightly so they fit the shape of the ball
  4. If making a tail from several colors of thin wire, twist them together, leaving one end untwisted
  5. With the glue gun or strong glue attach the ears to the top of the head
  6. With the glue gun attach the tail to the back of the wooden ball in the center near the base
  7. With the marker, draw eyes, nose, and mouth for the face and semicircles near the bottom for the paws

April 11 – National Pet Day

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About the Holiday

Throughout this month we’re celebrating pets, and today is specially set aside for people to make sure that their pets are getting all the care they need to be healthy and happy. If you have a pet,  them and show them how much you love them with a little extra attention and a special treat or two. Another great way to celebrate the day is to donate supplies to your local animal shelter or even ask about volunteering. 

I’m excited to be partnering with Peter Pauper Press in a giveaway of Mommy, Baby, and Me! See details below.

Mommy, Baby, and Me

Written by Linda Elovitz Marshall | Illustrated by Ged Adamson

 

Once, an adorable corgi says, Mommy and I did everything together. We played, went on walks, snuggled, and I got to sit on Mommy’s lap. But “then Mommy met Daddy” and pretty soon he was coming along on our walks, Mommy and Daddy cuddled, and “I got my very own bed. Then things changed even more.” Mommy’s lap got smaller…and smaller…until there was no room at all.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, text copyright Linda Elovitz Marshall, 2017. Courtesy of Peter Pauper Press.

When the baby came along, Mommy and she cuddled and sang. “And Mommy groomed Baby a lot.” Mommy didn’t seem to want me near the baby. Everyone thought the baby was cute, but not me. “I thought the baby made way too much noise, was way too stinky, and was not at all housebroken!”

One day I realized that Mommy and the baby looked a lot alike, and I made a wish that “things could be the way they used to be.” Pretty soon Baby began walking on all fours, and when I played with her now, Mommy and Daddy smiled. We began doing more together. While the baby slept, I was a good “big dog” and guarded the door, and during meal times the baby fed me.

One day while Baby and I were playing fetch, Baby hugged me and I suddenly knew “why Mommy and Daddy got Baby. They got Baby…for me!”

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, text copyright Linda Elovitz Marshall, 2017. Courtesy of Peter Pauper Press.

Adjusting to a new baby in the house can be daunting for new brothers and sisters, but Linda Elovitz Marshall’s funny and heartfelt story, told from a dog’s point of view, shows kids that they aren’t alone in their feelings and that while things may change, change really can be good. Marshall’s trajectory, from “the old days” to Mommy’s meeting and marrying Daddy to Baby’s growing ability to sit and play, helps children see that acclimating to new situations takes time, that love is ever-present, and that their role in the family can expand.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mommy-baby-and-me-mommy

Image copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, text copyright Linda Elovitz Marshall, 2017. Courtesy of Peter Pauper Press.

Ged Adamson’s sweet corgi will steal readers’ hearts as he spends happy times with Mommy, comes to terms with the changes in his life, and finally accepts Baby as his own. In the early pages, the corgi is Mommy and Daddy’s constant companion, but as he feels squeezed out by Baby, he disappears from the pages. When he reappears it is with a new wariness and distance, but a wish and a bit of time restore him to his former place in this charming family that is growing in many ways.

A sweet, funny, and original take on introducing a baby into a family, Mommy, Baby, and Me is a reassuring story for all new siblings and works to assuage uncertain feelings in other situations as well. The book is a great choice for home and classroom libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Peter Pauper Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1441322388

Discover more about Linda Elovitz Marshall and her books on her website.

To learn more about Ged Adamson, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Enter my Mommy, Baby, and Me Giveaway!

I’m excited to partner with Peter Pauper Books in this giveaway of

  • one copy of Mommy, Baby, and Me!

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, April 11 – April 17. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on April 18.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Peter Pauper Press

National Pet Day Activity

CPB - Dog Biscuits

Homemade Dog Treats

 

Pets love it when you do something special for them! Here’s a recipe for homemade dog biscuits that will taste even better than store-bought because they’re made with love! Making dog biscuits is a fun way to spend time together and benefit furry friends. These biscuits make tasty treats for your own pet, or consider making a batch to donate to your local animal shelter. This recipe is easy and proven to be a favorite.

Children should get help from an adult when using the oven.

Supplies

  • 1 large bowl
  • Large spoon or whisk
  • Cookie cutters – shaped like traditional dog bones or any favorite shape

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 egg beaten

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Add buckwheat flour to bowl
  3. Add powdered milk to bowl
  4. Add salt to bowl
  5. Stir to mix dry ingredients
  6. Add water
  7. Add melted margarine or butter
  8. Add egg
  9. Stir until liquid is absorbed
  10. Knead for a few minutes to form a dough
  11. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water, 1 Tablespoon at a time
  12. Place the dough on a board
  13. Roll dough to ½ inch thickness
  14. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters
  15. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes
  16. Biscuits will be hard when cool.

Makes about 40 biscuits.

April 10 – National Siblings Day

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate our brothers and sisters! Whether you’ve had a lifetime with your siblings or are just getting started with a new little person to grow up with, today is for remembering and making memories to be cherished. To honor the day, spend some time together with your siblings or get in touch and have a bit of fun!

Mela and the Elephant

Written by Dow Phumiruk | Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

 

When Mela headed out to explore the banks of the Ping River, her little brother wanted to go too, but Mela would only take him if he had something to give her in return. When he said he had nothing, Mela told him, “‘Then you stay home.’” When she reached the river, she jumped into her uncle’s boat to try and catch the big fish that swam in the sparkly water. She tossed out her net and nabbed the fish in her net, but he swam on, carrying Mela downstream. Soon, Mela found herself deep in the jungle.

When “the boat caught against a tangle of tree roots, Mela stepped out onto a large rock.” She looked around and realized she was a long way from home.  A crocodile happened by and Mela asked him if he could tow her boat back home. “‘What will you give me for my help?’” the crocodile asked. Mela told him he could have her fish, and the crocodile agreed. But as soon as Mela gave him the fish, he grabbed it and swam away.

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Image copyright Ziyue Chen, 2018, text copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Mela had just begun to walk in the direction of home when “a leopard slinked into sight.” Mela asked her if she knew how to get to the village. She did, but would only show Mela if she gave her something. Mela thought, then took off her sweater and gave it to the leopard, saying, “‘It will keep your cubs warm on cool nights.’” The leopard “snatched it up and leaped away.”

Mela continued on and was soon walking down a narrow path, where three monkeys swung from vines in the trees. Again Mela asked for help finding her way home. “‘What will you give us if we help you?’ one chattered. Mela held out her backpack.” It would be helpful for carrying fruit, she told them. As soon as the largest monkey grabbed the backpack, the three disappeared into the forest.

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Image copyright Ziyue Chen, 2018, text copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Mela began to cry. She had no idea how to get home, and night was coming. Just then “she heard the rustling and snapping of branches.” She looked up to see an elephant approaching. The elephant asked Mela if she were lost. When Mela said, yes, the elephant offered to give her a ride. Mela told him that she had nothing to give him. But the elephant said, “‘It would make my heart happy to help you. I don’t need anything else in return.’”

Then he allowed Mela to climb up his trunk and onto his back and they started off. When they reached the village, Mela thanked the elephant and he gave her a last hug with his trunk. The next day when Mela’s brother asked to accompany her to the riverbank, she remembered what the elephant had taught her and agreed to take him. And “from then on, she offered many kindnesses to others, asking nothing in return.”

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Image copyright Ziyue Chen, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

In her lovely story, Dow Phumiruk reminds children that the heartfelt rewards of kindness are more precious than material gain. Such inner happiness often radiates to others, creating strong bonds and long-lasting happiness. It’s interesting to note that Mela is actually inherently thoughtful, offering each potential rescuer an object that is useful to them. But this inner generosity is lost when she interacts with her brother and brushes off his friendship. Through her experiences in the jungle, however, she comes to empathize with her brother. Back at home, she embraces and includes him, and shares the lesson she’s learned with others as well.

As Mela wanders deeper and deeper into Ziyue Chen’s lush jungle of Thailand, readers will understand that while she may be lost, she is also finding her way on her path in life. The animals that approach her initially look friendly and helpful, but as soon as they have their payment, they turn their back on Mela and desert her. The elephant, on the other hand, has kindly eyes and a gentle manner. The final scene in which Mela takes her little brother by the hand as they begin an adventure together demonstrates her change of heart and growth along life’s road.

An Author’s Note includes information about the history, geography, and customs of Thailand, where there story is set, introducing readers to the diverse culture of the country.

Mela and the Elephant employs a mix of traditional storytelling with today’s focus on kindness, empathy, and generosity. The book would make an excellent addition to home and classroom libraries for story time and to prompt discussions about compassion and helpfulness.

Ages 4 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1-58536-998-0

Discover more about Dow Phumiruk, her books, and her art on her website

To learn more about Ziyue Chen, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Come along on the adventure with this Mela and the Elephant book trailer!

National Siblings Day Activity

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Elephant Handprint Craft

 

This easy craft is fun for siblings to do together and can make a nice decoration for a child’s room or a gift for mom, dad, or other family members.

Supplies

  • Craft paint in two colors of the children’s choice
  • Yellow craft paint
  • Black fin-tip marker
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils to make a background
  • Paper
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint one child’s hand and press it on the paper. The thumb is the truck and the fingers the legs.
  2. Paint the second child’s hand and press it on the paper near the other “elephant.” A couple of examples are: the elephants standing trunk to trunk or trunk to tail 
  3. After the paint has dried, draw on ears and an eye
  4. Add a sun with the yellow paint
  5. Add grass, trees, or other background features

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review

April 9 – International Unicorn Day

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About the Holiday

If you ask a child—maybe even an adult—to name a magical creature, chances are they’ll say, “a unicorn!” Unicorns have been part of legend since ancient times, undergoing changes from an image of fierceness and power to a representation of strength and true love to today’s more glittery superstar. To celebrate, learn more about the history of these mystical animals and check out your favorite unicorns of book, TV, and toy fame!

Thelma the Unicorn

By Aaron Blabey

 

“Thelma felt a little sad. / In fact, she felt forlorn. / You see, she wished with all her heart / to be a unicorn.” Thelma was a little pony—brown and short and overlooked. Her best friend Otis told her, “‘You’re perfect as you are,’” but when Thelma compared herself to the sleek white mare on the farm, she said, “‘I’m not.’” Then she saw a carrot left over from dinner and had an idea.

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Copyright Aaron Babey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

She tied the carrot to her forehead and told Otis, “‘I’ll say that I’m a unicorn! / It might just work… / who knows?’” At this very moment a truck driver passing by caught sight of Thelma and careened off the side of the road. “As Thelma watched the swerving truck, / it very nearly hit her. / Would you believe that truck was filled / with nice pink paint and glitter?”

In the blink of an eye Thelma was doused in sparkles and had become what she always dreamed of. She was a unicorn and “special now!” Crowds lined up at the farm gate to see the pink unicorn. The media descended with their cameras and video recorders, and Thelma quickly became a world-wide phenomenon. Everywhere she went fans screamed her name, took pictures, waved signs, and wanted to be near her. She even got her hoofprint on the Walk of Fame.

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Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Thelma sailed to foreign ports on a ship named The Fairy Princess, attended by stewards who fulfilled her every wish. “But soon she found that so much fame / was kind of tricky, too….” Her fans mobbed her with crushing zeal; chased after her wherever she went, screamed, cried, laughed, and pointed whenever they saw her; and hounded her day and night for her autograph. “It NEVER EVER stopped.”

When Thelma asked “the screaming crowd” not to chase her anymore, they said “‘We’ll chase you all we want….We’re fans, so it’s allowed.’” Then there were  the people who “were not her fans at all. / No, some were really mean. / And some just did the meanest things / she’d really ever seen.” Some threw eggs while she roller skated for charity and others held up signs reading “I don’t like unicorns” where she was sure to see them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thelma-the-unicorn-adoring-crowds

Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Back in her fancy hotel room, all alone and bedraggled, soaked in egg, and with her “horn” losing its luster, Thelma looked at a photo of Otis. “…she felt quite sad, / this famous little pony. / She said, ‘I thought that I’d feel great… / but all I feel is lonely.’” Right then, she decided to make a change. She washed off all the pink paint and sparkles and removed her horn.

She left and “walked right past the crowd. / They didn’t even notice / She thought how nice that it would be…to see her lovely Otis.” Back at the farm, Thelma happily stood underneath a tree with Otis, When he asked her about her trip, she simply said, “‘Oh, it was fun, but I’d rather be just me.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thelma-the-unicorn-being-chased

Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Aaron Blabey’s cautionary tale of a pony who is granted her wish to be “more” than she is, deftly reveals the pitfalls of abandoning your true nature for what appears to be the perks of celebrity with a splash of humor and some no-nonsense honesty. Through Blabey’s smoothly flowing rhymes, readers see that being special is not based on a sparkly appearance that pleases false friends. Instead, each person is remarkable for their unique personalities and talents that true friends will appreciate.

Today’s social media-savvy children will recognize Blabey’s screaming crowds and overzealous fans and will come to understand, with Thelma, that being “in the pink” can be short-lived and that glitter soon fades.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thelma-the-unicorn-carrot-horn

Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Blabey’s distinctive illustrations portray Thelma’s transformation from “regular pony” to celebrity unicorn and back again with flair and all the bling that goes along with superstardom. The crowds are giddy, awed, obsessive, and adoring until the backlash starts, which Blabey portrays with candid examples. His final spreads in which Thelma goes unrecognized by her fans and is then lovingly welcomed back by Otis beautifully sum up the theme of the story.

Aaron Blabey’s light touch coupled with his encouragement to be true to yourself makes Thelma the Unicorn a great choice for  home and classroom libraries.

Ages  3 – 7

Scholastic Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1338158427

Scholastic Press sent me a free copy of Thelma the Unicorn to check out. All opinions are my own.

Discover more about Aaron Blabey, his books, and his art on his website

International Unicorn Day Activity

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Magical Unicorn Coloring Page

 

Grab your crayons—and your glitter—and make this printable Magical Unicorn Coloring Page sparkle!

Picture Book Review

April 8 – National Zoo Day

The View at the Zoo by Kathleen Long Bostrom and Guy FrancisAbout the Holiday

Zoos are wonderful places to see and learn about exotic animals from around the world. In addition to creating educational exhibits, zoological experts are involved in the preservation of endangered species. To celebrate the day, you might visit your local zoo, donate your time or money to further a zoo’s mission, or consider “adopting” a zoo animal—many zoological institutions offer this fun and rewarding program.

The View at the Zoo

Written by Kathleen Long Bostrom | Illustrated by Guy Francis

 

“Rise and shine! Attention, please! Monkeys get down from those trees!” So calls the zookeeper as he begins his rounds, waking up the zoo animals to greet another day of visitors. Once the bear cubs are up, the lion’s mane is combed, the elephant has wiped his nose, and the giraffes are standing tall, the gates are flung open.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-view-at-the-zoo-snake

Copyright Guy Francis, 2010, courtesy of Ideals Children’s Books.

The day is full of excitement, observations, and education—“My, what silly things they do, all these creatures at the zoo.” Some creatures walk and waddle to an inner beat. Some carry babies in pouches or on their backs while others are noisy—howling and shrieking. And look at how some love to eat! There are those who primp to stay neat and clean, and those that will nip your fingers if you get too close!

Yes, the zoo is full of intriguing specimens! As the sun goes down the visitors head for the exit, and the animals watch them leave. It’s been another good day. Those people sure put on quite a show! The owl exclaims, “What a hoot! Folks have no clue the view that we have at the zoo!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-view-at-the-zoo-parrots

Copyright Guy Francis, 2010, courtesy of Ideals Children’s Books.

The View at the Zoo is a perfect union of words and illustration. Kathleen Long Bostrom’s text tells the story in a jaunty rhyme that will have kids giggling all the way through. Guy Francis’s lush, detailed illustrations are full of humor and reveal the real “watchers” of the story. Kids will have fun picking the animal and people pairs out of the crowd who are “dancing to their own inner beat,” carrying babies on their backs or in pouches, making noise, chowing down, getting clean, and flashing dangerous teeth. This zoo is colorful, wild, and populated with animals happy to study the exotic creatures on the other side of the fence.

Ages 3 – 6

Worthy Kids/Ideals Publishing, 2015 | ISBN 978-0824956691 (Paperback)

Discover more about Kathleen Long Bostrom and her books on her website.

To learn more about Guy Francis and his books and view a portfolio of his illustration work, visit his website.

National Zoo Lovers Day Activity

CPB - Zoo Day Word Search II (2)

Round up the Animals! Word Search

 

Cand you find the fifteen animals in this printable Round Up the Animals! word search? Here’s the Solution.

April 7 – It’s National Poetry Month

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About the Holiday

This month we celebrate poets and the poetry they create to illuminate our lives in new and often surprising ways. National Poetry Month is a world-wide event, bringing together tens of millions of poets, readers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, and other poetry lovers in readings, school visits, and special events. To celebrate, check out some events in your area and enjoy reading the work of your favorite—or a new—poet. You might even try writing your own poetry!

Read! Read! Read!

Written by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater | Illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

 

In twenty-three poems Amy Ludwig Vanderwater takes readers on a journey of…Reading, from when a child first recognizes that those “squiggles / make letters. / Letters / make words. / Words / make stories / that fly like birds…” through the world they discover as they take in the printed word in all its forms.

In Pretending, a little girl remembers “tracing my fingers / under each letter/ I used to pretend / I could read to myself.” At the library she would “pull from the shelf– / a rainbow of rectangles.” For days, weeks, months, she practiced. “Learning to read / felt like / learning to fly. / And one day / I took off. / I was swooping / alone / over words / once confusing / but now / all my own.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read!-read!-read!-fields

Image copyright Ryan O’Rourke, 2017. Courtesy of WordSong Publishing.

Cereal Box and Sports Page are placed side by side like the brother and sister eating breakfast together. But which sibling is reading “Recipes. / Stories. / Jokes. / Weird facts….the box” and which is “Scanning scores / studying stats / …checking on my team?”  Children will discover that there aren’t many things the little boy in I Explore has not done as he reveals, “I have stood upon a moonscape. / I have witnessed peace and war. / I have ridden a wild horse. / I’m a reader. / I explore.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read!-read!-read!-forever

Image copyright Ryan O’Rourke, 2017. Courtesy of WordSong Publishing.

Reading doesn’t just inform you, it reforms you, as An Open Book explains: “An open book / will help you find / an open heart / an open mind / inside yourself / if you’re inclined. / An open book / will make you kind.” Or maybe all that reading can give a younger brother a moment of power when he uses new-found information. “At dinner I ask— / Do you know / how many pounds of skin / a person sheds by age seventy? / My sister puts down her fork. / No. / One hundred five. / Oh. / She will not look at me. / She will not pick up her fork. / I keep eating. / I love reading.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read!-read!-read!-sunday-comics

Image copyright Ryan O’Rourke, 2017. Courtesy of WordSong Publishing.

Reading comes in many forms, from Maps, which “…fold / into themselves / like perfect beetle wings.” to Road Signs, in which the alphabet was once “like a secret code / for grown-ups / splashed / on every sign.” There’s also the Internet for Googling Guinea Pigs, where an eager pet sitter can “read about treats. / Read about exercise. / Read about safe holding” before the class pet comes home for the weekend. A Birthday Card with a poem from Grandpa, a Magazine that “…comes / by mail / twelve times / each year,” and Sunday Morning with the comics, where a loyal fan can “know every character / know every name” all bring joy to avid readers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read!-read!-read!-word-collection

Image copyright Ryan O’Rourke, 2017, text copyright Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, 2017. Courtesy of WordSong Publishing.

For readers there may be no more exciting time than Late at Night when a little lie—“I cannot sleep”—is exposed as Mom “…reaches out to touch my lamp. / The bulb is warm. / My mom knows why” and a special bond is formed with a mom who can empathize. A final cozy image closes the book in I Am a Bookmark, where a nighttime reader compares himself to a bookmark “holding the page between dark and light.”

Along the way Amy Ludwig Vanderwater also explores Reading Time, a lyrical Word Collection, a Field Guide, the emotional effect of Stories, how reading can be like leading a Double Life, the benefits of a Book Dog, and the Forever connection between real people and characters in books.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read!-read!-read!-bookmark

Image copyright Ryan O’Rourke, 2017, text copyright Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, 2017. Courtesy of WordSong Publishing.

Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s charming poems on the joys of a reading life will engage children just starting out on their own journeys or those who are better versed in this exceptional art. At once inspiring and homey, these poems open the vast world and the private pleasures of the written word. Vanderwater’s verses are in turn smooth, conversational, reflective, humorous, and fun to read aloud.

Ryan O’Rourke opens Read! Read! Read! with a beautiful image of squiggles turned letters turned words turned books that soar like birds over a young reader’s head. The image wonderfully carries readers into the rest of the book where fancies and facts enlighten young minds. O’Rourke’s imaginative interpretations of each poem enhance their effect and cleverly convey extended meanings and visual humor. 

For children who love poetry, reading, writing, and seeing the world through a lyrical lens, Read! Read! Read! would be a terrific choice for any story time or bedtime. The book would also be welcome in classrooms for teachers to dip into again and again.

Ages 5 – 10

WordSong, 2017 | ISBN 978-1590789759

Discover more about Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, her books, articles, and poetry on her website.

View a gallery of book, map, and editorial illustration by Ryan O’Rourke on his website.

National Poetry Month Activity

 

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Grow a Poem Craft

 

A poem often grows in your imagination like a beautiful plant—starting from the seed of an idea, breaking through your consciousness, and growing and blooming into full form. With this craft you can create a unique poem that is also an art piece!

Supplies

  • Printable Leaves Template
  • Printable Flower Template
  • Wooden dowel, 36-inch-long, ½-inch diameter, available in craft or hardware stores
  • Green ribbon, 48 inches long
  • Green craft paint
  • Green paper for printing leaves (white paper if children would like to color the leaves)
  • Colored paper for printing flowers (white paper if children would like to color the flowers)
  • Flower pot or box
  • Oasis, clay, or dirt
  • Hole punch
  • Glue
  • Markers or pens for writing words
  • Crayons or colored pencils if children are to color leaves and flowers

Directions

  1. Paint the dowel green, let dry
  2. Print the leaves and flower templates
  3. Cut out the leaves and flowers
  4. Punch a hole in the bottom of the leaves or flowers
  5. Write words, phrases, or full sentences of your poem on the leaf and flower templates
  6. String the leaves and flowers onto the green ribbon (if you want the poem to read from top to bottom string the words onto the ribbon in order from first to last)
  7. Attach the ribbon to the bottom of the pole with glue or tape
  8. Wrap the ribbon around the pole, leaving spaces between the ribbon
  9. Move the leaves and flowers so they stick out from the pole or look the way you want them to.
  10. Put oasis or clay in the flower pot or box
  11. Stick your poem pole in the pot
  12. Display your poem!

Picture Book Review

April 6 – It’s National Pet Month

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About the Holiday

We always appreciate our pets, but April is a month dedicated to showing them a little extra love and care while making sure they have everything they need to live a long, healthy, and happy life. The founders of National Pet Month wanted to promote responsible pet ownership whether you share your life with a fish, a cat or dog, a horse, or any of the other animals that make good companions. To celebrate this month’s holiday, spend a little extra time playing with your pet and check that they’re up-to-date on their veterinary visits. This month is also a great time to enjoy some books about animals!

Pippa & Percival, Pancake & Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies

Written by Deborah Diesen | illustrated by Grace Zong

 

Come and meet Poppy, a puppy “out for a run, / Tumbling, rumbling, / Looking for fun.” When Poppy came to a fence, she heard something on the other side and just had to explore. She dug underneath and “found… / Another puppy!” Pancake was shaggy and eating apples that had dropped from a tree, but he followed Poppy until they came to a stump behind which “they found… Another puppy!”

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Image copyright Grace Zone, 2018, text copyright Deborah Diesen, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

This dachshund named Percival was smelling the flowers, but he joined Poppy and Percival, and they “rollicked and frolicked” until they came to a big pile of leaves. As they nosed around, sniffing, they happened to find… “Another puppy!” With a fancy fur-do and a little black bow, Pippa was ready to join in the fun. So “Poppy and Percival, / Pancake and Pippa, / Galloped and gamboled, / Their ears flippy-floppy.”

An alley looked intriguing, so the four “squeezed their way in.” It was dark and silent as they warily padded along until “they found… A cat!!!!” Then the four friends had to “scoot and skedaddle! / Hotfoot and hurry! / Scramble and scuttle! / Scamper and scurry!” They soon found a sidewalk with four separate branches that took Poppy and Pancake and Percival and Pippa…”Home!”

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Image copyright Grace Zone, 2018, text copyright Deborah Diesen, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Deborah Diesen’s bouncy, alliterative rhymes are as infectious as the exuberance of a puppy at play. This engaging friendship story reveals the thrill of bonding with new friends over good times and even a shared spot of trouble. Kids will love joining in on the repeated phrase that leads to finding another puppy and will gasp and giggle at the interloper that sends all of the puppies scampering for the comfort and welcome of home. Diesen’s evocative vocabulary will have readers repeating and using such fun words as scuttle, gamboled, rollicked, and clambered.

Grace Zong’s four peppy puppies are adorable and bursting with energy as they joyfully play on a sunny afternoon. Her colorful, wide-open vistas give the puppies plenty of room to play in and cleverly lead into a close up of each new puppy that joins the group. The alley is more unknown to the puppies than actually scary, which lets their surprise find an exciting twist to the pattern. The four panels showing each puppy returning home are filled with delight as each owner welcomes their puppy home with open arms and extra love.

Ages 3 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585363865

Discover more about Deborah Diesen and her books on her website.

National Pet Month Activity

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Happy Pets Coloring Pages

 

Puppies and kittens are so much fun to play with! Here are two sweet printable pets to color!

Adorable Puppy Coloring Page | Cute Kitten Coloring Page

Picture Book Review