January 2 – National Science Fiction Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-are-you-scared-darth-vader-cover

About the Holiday

If Sci-Fi is your thing, today’s the day to celebrate! Today’s holiday is enjoyed by science fiction fans around the world, who take in movies, read favorite books, and attend special events and parties all with a sci-fi theme. Today’s date was chosen for the holiday to commemorate the birthday of master science-fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, who was born January 2, 1920. Channel your inner galactic traveler, today, and discover some entertainment that’s out of this world—like today’s book!

Star Wars: Are You Scared, Darth Vader?

By Adam Rex

 

Darth Vader, as we all know, is a pretty scary guy. But does anything scare him? “I do not get scared. No one has the power to frighten Lord Vader,” he says. But what about a…wolfman? The wolfman, with bulging yellow eyes, sharp teeth, and unkempt nails (and wearing torn pants and a ripped up plaid shirt) attacks! Darth Vader gives him a withering look and explains that he is “not afraid of a wolf” and “not afraid of a man” so he is “not afraid of a wolfman.” And if the wolfman should bite? Lord Vader’s armor will take care of that.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-are-you-scared-darth-vader-full-moon

Copyright Adam Rex, 2018, courtesy of Disney Lucasfilm Press.

Perhaps a vampire is more frightening. But another biting creature? Nah…not scary. Next up to alarm Darth Vador is a little ghost: “BoooooWoo!” Fearlessly, Vader pokes it, wondering if it is the ghost of Yoda. The witch that appears next is proclaimed, “just an old woman” by the intrepid Vader, and when he is told that she could curse him, he retreats into a dark place to reveal, “I am already cursed.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-are-you-scared-darth-vader-vampire

Copyright Adam Rex, 2018, courtesy of Disney Lucasfilm Press.

The narrator offers up a list of other possible triggers, but Darth Vader defects them all. Well, then, the narrator tells the kids, they can take off their spooky masks. Lord Vader is shocked. As the kids run to him, hang from his cape, and wield his light saber, Darth Vader tries to shake them off—but he’s still not scared. Then more kids join the fray. Darth Vader shakes his fist and rails, “I am most displeased.” “I am most displeased!” a little girl repeats.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-are-you-scared-darth-vader-ghost

Copyright Adam Rex, 2018, courtesy of Disney Lucasfilm Press.

At last, Lord Vader has had enough and begs for the children to be taken away. Mumbling that he’s no fun, the kids tromp off. But then Darth Vader is alerted to one more kid—the reader—“who’s about to close the book.” Shaken, Lord Vader pleads with the child not to turn the page and bargains with them, offering to share the power of the dark side. The pages are waning, and at last Darth Vader knows fear. One page left… “Nooooooo….”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-are-you-scared-darth-vader-yoda

Copyright Adam Rex, 2018, courtesy of Disney Lucasfilm Press.

Adam Rex’s laugh-out-loud send-up of Darth Vader and his steely persona takes full advantage of the Star Wars world and lore—from the movies to spin-off toys to kids’ pretend Star Wars play—to immerse readers in the humor and power of his story. Cloaked in darkness, the pages, created from mixed-media illustrations punctuated with white and yellow text, are masterfully funny. While Darth Vader stands stoically, his mask never changing, Rex wrings out an array of emotions through the humor of the narrator’s questions and Vader’s monotone answers.

The monsters who attempt to frighten Vader are straight from Halloween sidewalks, adding to the comic effect. When they’re unmasked, their love for this villain is unmistakable. Vader may strike threatening poses and shake his fist at the injustice of it all, but deep down could he be enjoying himself?

For Star Wars lovers (and who isn’t?) and those who love to laugh, Are You Scared Darth Vader? is a celebration of sci-fi fun for home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 5 – 8

Disney Lucasfilm Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1484704974

Discover more about Adam Rex, his books, and his art on his website.

National Science Fiction Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rocket-to-the-moon-tic-tac-toe-game

Out-of-this-World Tic-Tac-Toe Game

 

You can launch your own Tic-Tac-Toe Game with this set you make yourself! With just a couple of egg cartons, some crayons, and a printable game board, you’ll be off to the moon for some fun! Opposing players can be designated by rockets and capsules. Each player will need 5 playing pieces. 

SUPPLIES

  • Printable Moon Tic-Tac-Toe Game Board
  • 2 cardboard egg cartons
  • Heavy stock paper or regular printer paper
  • Crayons
  • Black or gray fine-tip marker

DIRECTIONS

To Make the Rockets

  1. Cut the tall center cones from the egg carton
  2. Trim the bottoms of each form so they stand steadily, leaving the arched corners intact
  3. Pencil in a circular window on one side near the top of the cone
  4. Color the rocket body any colors you like, going around the window and stopping where the arched corners begin
  5. With the marker color the arched corners of the form to make legs
  6. On the cardboard between the legs, color flames for blast off

To Make the Capsule

  1. Cut the egg cups from an egg carton
  2. Color the sides silver, leaving the curved section uncolored. (If your egg cup has no pre-pressed curve on the sides of the cup, draw one on each side.)
  3. Color the curved section yellow to make windows
  4. With the marker, dot “rivets” across the capsule

Print the Moon Game Board and play!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-are-you-scared-darth-vader-cover

You can find Star Wars: Are You Scared, Darth Vader? at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

September 1 – National No Rhyme (nor Reason) Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-cover

About the Holiday

Today we celebrate a group of unsung members of the English vocabulary world—those words that are so unique in sound that they’ll never be invited to join a rhyming poem or be chosen to play in a rhyming picture book. Since these words may never find themselves in a funny birthday or holiday card or rounding out the lines of a celebratory song, someone thought they needed a day of their own, and today is it! Today, have fun with words, and remember that being last in line isn’t really the most important thing!

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

By Adam Rex

 

As the book opens, readers meet two smiling friends—an apple and a pear who ask the jaunty and rhyming question: “Who wouldn’t travel anywhere to get an apple or a pear?” A little purple fruit joins the fun with “And if a chum hands you a plum, be fair and share that tasty treat!” From the sidelines an orange watches in anticipation like a child waiting to leap into a twirling jump rope. When the banana and peach arrive, enjoying a beachside cabana, the orange takes the initiative and calls out, “Hey, are you guys going to need me for this book?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-plum

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

But the action continues with caped grapes and a kind of high-fiving dance party where all the cute fruit are cheering themselves on. The persistent orange peeks out from the background just to remind them that he’s there. As the fig admits that she’s not very big, the orange begins to catch on to the pattern of invitations, and his once-present grin begins to fade. With a shrug he acknowledges that “nothing rhymes with me, but…” he’d still like to be included.

If nearly getting sucker punched by a “peewee” kiwi’s “pucker punch” counts as being included, then the orange is front and center. But then a cantaloupe riding an antelope enters the scene with a dietary suggestion.”If you aren’t a fan of cantaloupe, then feed it to an antelope.” Not a fan of that rhyme? Well…the orange agrees with you, and he’s a little unsure about the quince on the next page too. But…back to the dance party, where all the newly introduced “cute fruit” are now cutting the rug.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-cantaloupe

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

The produce seem to be losing control as they reach for rhymes. I mean, “you can keep them in a bowl or in a boot—fruit!” Really? Is it actually a good idea to eat out of a shoe? Poor Orange doesn’t “even know what that is.” Want a little philosophy with your fruit? Then try this on for size: “I think cherries are ‘the berries’ and a lychee is just peachy. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche.” Impressive!

That bit of nonsense just makes Orange mad, though. As Nietzsche throws his hands in the air and joins the festivities, Orange is nonplussed: “I don’t see why he’s in this poem and I’m not.” Good question! And now the banana again?! Didn’t he already have his turn? And the pear? Didn’t she get to lead the whole thing off? Maybe this is one of those circular plots…. Whoa! Here’s a twist—a wolf wants to take a bite of Pear. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-frucht

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

But suddenly a transformation takes place that brings up some pretty deep questions: “then does that pear become a pearwolf when the moon is full and bright? Will the apple have to grapple with this pear with fangs and hair?” Now that the story has gone to the dark side, the orange decides he’s “glad he’s not part of it.” Yet, wait! A caped grape comes to the rescue, and Orange realizes that “this book is amazing.”

The cute fruit party is in full swing with a band, a singer, and a whole lot of dancing. The rhymes are coming fast and furious—some a bit better than others, according to Orange—and he decides to just hang out on the next page. There, though, as he stands alone and dejected and surrounded by lots of white space, Orange hears a cheery sound. It’s Apple with a welcoming rhyme: “But the fruit are feeling rotten, ‘cause there’s someone they’ve forgotten.” And while what Apple says next might not technically be a real word, it does the job with a little hip-hop beat: “It’s the orange. He’s really smorange. There’s no one quite as smorange as orange.”

This, of course, could go either way, so Orange asks for a little clarification and discovers that “smorange” means “totally awesome in every way.” And with that, the jam continues, with Smorange Orange out in front.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-smorange

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

Adam Rex’s cool, funny, and sophisticated riff uses the fact that the word orange has no rhyme to explore the ideas of exclusion and inclusion and show readers that there’s always a way to embrace others and make them feel good and part of the group. 

Rex has created very appealing characters in Orange and the others. Without a mean seed in their bodies, they’re just having fun and being a bit silly. In a very welcome plot turn, Apple and the other fruit recognize that Orange feels left out and come to him with a solution. Rex’s vivacious fruit are as cute as they think they are, and little Orange is endearing with his alternately easy smile and sad eyes. The addition of a dancing Friedrich Nietzsche is genius and will have both kids and adults laughing.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-apple-and-pear

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

Nothing Rhymes with Orange is a fantastic read-aloud for home and classroom story times. The book would be a much-asked-for favorite and would make a perfect gift or addition to home libraries.

Ages 5 – 8

Chronicle Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1452154435

You’ll have a blast exploring the world of Adam Rex on his website!

National No Rhyme (nor Rhyme) Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-word-search

Nothing Rhymes with . . . Word Search

 

Can you find the twenty-five English words that have no rhyme in this printable word search puzzle?

Nothing Rhymes with . . . Word Search PuzzleNothing Rhymes with . . . Word Search Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-cover

You can find Nothing Rhymes with Orange at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

January 24 – Global Belly Laugh Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-cover

About the Holiday

If there’s one thing that unites us all, it’s laughter. A good belly laugh is good for your soul and your health! Today’s holiday encourages and celebrates smile, laughs, and all the things that bring us joy. It’s also a day to think about and thank those who share their funny stories, fun times, and laughter with us. So spend a happy day being with friends, watching a funny movie or show, and reading a laugh-out-loud book like…

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Written by Drew Daywalt |Illustrated by Adam Rex

 

“Long ago in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard,” Rock ruled. There was just one problem. There was no one left who could challenge this mighty warrior. Rock traveled far and wide, even to the “Forest of Over by the Tire Swing.” Here, on a line strung between two trees, he spied a tiny opponent with super strength “holding a giant’s underwear.” The trash talking began as Rock called out Clip Man to fight him. Clip Man was not intimidated and threatened to pinch Rock until he cried. The battle was on! With a smash and a crack, Rock easily defeated Clip Man.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-clothes-pin

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Rock’s win just whet his appetite for victory, so he moseyed over to “the Mystical Tower of Grandma’s Favorite Apricot Tree.” There he encountered a small, orange fruit. Rock told the Apricot exactly what he thought of him. Apricot couldn’t let the dis go unchallenged, so the battle was on! Although Apricot gave it his all, his “tart and tangy sweetness” was no match for Rock’s smooshing power. While Rock took some pleasure in his win, it did not bring him the joy he sought. He decided to leave the Kingdom of Backyard in search of a worthy opponent.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-peach

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

“Meanwhile, in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, on lonely and windswept Desk Mountain, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle.” Paper was smart and so clever that “no one could outwit him.” As he roamed across the vast desk, Paper met up with Computer Printer, who vowed to gobble him up and spit him out. The battle was on! But within seconds Computer Printer realized he was in a jam—a Paper jam! Flush with victory Paper rappelled over the side into the “Pit of Office Trash Bin,” where the menacing “Half-Eaten Bag of Trail Mix” awaited him. Paper leapt! Paper blocked the light! The Trail Mix fled! Disheartened by this easy win, Paper also left his kingdom in search of a worthy opponent.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-apricotpng

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Back in “the Kitchen Realm in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. They called her Scissors.” She too was looking for a challenging adversary. She was happy to take on the “tacky and vaguely round monstrosity” who confronted her, but Roll of Tape’s “adhesive and tangling powers” were no match for Scissors’ sharp blades. She sauntered across her kingdom to Refrigerator/Freezer, where the breaded-chicken dinosaurs lived. They were ready to fight, and the battle is on! At first it looks as if the “kid-pleasing shapes and flavors” will vanquish Scissors, but it’s just a plot twist! Scissors is victorious again!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-rock

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Scissors knew it was time to move on, so she left the Kitchen Realm for the “Great Cavern of Two-Car Garage.” There she came face-to-face with Rock. They sized each other up, and Scissors threw down the gauntlet: “I hope you’re wearing your battle pants, rock warrior.” Rock answered: “If by ‘battle pants’ you mean ‘no pants but I’m willing to fight you,’ then yes…yes, I am wearing my battle pants, weird scissory one.” The battle was on!

Rock versus Scissors! The battle raged, until…Rock defeated Scissors. Suddenly, Scissors knew the happiness of having a worthy opponent, but Rock was still unsatisfied. Just then Paper floated onto the scene, and with the well-known fighting words, “Hi there,” the battle was on! Brought down and wrapped up by Paper’s flexible forces, Rock was joyful. But what about Paper? Who could defeat him?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-rock-battle

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Scissors stood on her tippy toes and faced Paper. With one smooth slice, she cut a hole in his win record. Now Paper knew the thrill of defeat. The three warriors became fast friends and battled each other over and over. Their story became legend and their legend became the stuff of “backyards, playgrounds, and yes, even classrooms” as kids around the world play Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Get ready for plenty of dramatic reading, out loud laughs, and ringing cheers the moment you open Drew Daywalt’s The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. This worthy spoof on the warrior genre from Medieval knights to the wrestling ring is a hilarious take down of challenges, trash talking, and bravado with a good bit of truth about the nature of competition and friendship: true friends are open to challenges and supportive when the other guy wins. Daywalt’s freewheeling conversational tone, inspired kingdoms, and cunning choices of opponents will have readers looking at their homes in a whole new light.

Employing the same thrilling spectacle as action movies, Adam Rex brings to life the adrenaline-pumping swagger of three brave warriors. Bold typefaces invite spirited reading, and the details of the realms overseen by Rock, Paper, and Scissors will enthrall kids. Both young and adult readers will want to linger and laugh over every page to check out all the anthropomorphized items that populate these kingdoms.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is sure to be a champion in any child’s home library. It would make a perfect gift and a much-asked-for book for exuberant story times.

Ages 4 – 9

Balzer + Bray, HarperCollins, 2017 | ISBN  978-0062438898

Check out books, art, and other fun stuff by Adam Rex on his website!

Global Belly Laugh Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-laughing-girl-and-boy-coloring-page

Rock Paper Scissors Extravaganza

 

Come on! You know that a few rounds of Rock Paper Scissors will make you laugh! Find someone or many someones and challenge them to the battle of all rock, paper, scissors battles just like the two kids in this printable Laugh Along with Rock Paper Scissors Coloring Page!

 

Picture Book Review

September 18 – National Respect Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established to help people focus on how they can be more respectful of others—family, friends, and strangers. It’s also a day to think about yourself. Do you respect yourself and your abilities? Self-respect is crucial for achieving your goals, both personal and professional. There are many ways to show respect. Good manners, listening to others, acknowledging others with a “thank you” or “great job,” and inclusion are only a few of the ways that people can start building the kinds of respectful relationships that lead to success.

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

By Adam Rex

 

As the book opens, readers meet two smiling friends—an apple and a pear who ask the jaunty and rhyming question: “Who wouldn’t travel anywhere to get an apple or a pear?” A little purple fruit joins the fun with “And if a chum hands you a plum, be fair and share that tasty treat!” From the sidelines an orange watches in anticipation like a child waiting to leap into a twirling jump rope. When the banana and peach arrive, enjoying a beachside cabana, the orange takes the initiative and calls out, “Hey, are you guys going to need me for this book?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-plum

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

But the action continues with caped grapes and a kind of high-fiving dance party where all the cute fruit are cheering themselves on. The persistent orange peeks out from the background just to remind them that he’s there. As the fig admits that she’s not very big, the orange begins to catch on to the pattern of invitations, and his once-present grin begins to fade. With a shrug he acknowledges that “nothing rhymes with me, but…” he’d still like to be included.

If nearly getting sucker punched by a “peewee” kiwi’s “pucker punch” counts as being included, then the orange is front and center. But then a cantaloupe riding an antelope enters the scene with a dietary suggestion.”If you aren’t a fan of cantaloupe, then feed it to an antelope.” Not a fan of that rhyme? Well…the orange agrees with you, and he’s a little unsure about the quince on the next page too. But…back to the dance party, where all the newly introduced “cute fruit” are now cutting the rug.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-cantaloupe

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

The produce seem to be losing control as they reach for rhymes. I mean, “you can keep them in a bowl or in a boot—fruit!” Really? Is it actually a good idea to eat out of a shoe? Poor Orange doesn’t “even know what that is.” Want a little philosophy with your fruit? Then try this on for size: “I think cherries are ‘the berries’ and a lychee is just peachy. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche.” Impressive!

That bit of nonsense just makes Orange mad, though. As Nietzsche throws his hands in the air and joins the festivities, Orange is nonplussed: “I don’t see why he’s in this poem and I’m not.” Good question! And now the banana again?! Didn’t he already have his turn? And the pear? Didn’t she get to lead the whole thing off? Maybe this is one of those circular plots…. Whoa! Here’s a twist—a wolf wants to take a bite of Pear. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-frucht

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

But suddenly a transformation takes place that brings up some pretty deep questions: “then does that pear become a pearwolf when the moon is full and bright? Will the apple have to grapple with this pear with fangs and hair?” Now that the story has gone to the dark side, the orange decides he’s “glad he’s not part of it.” Yet, wait! A caped grape comes to the rescue, and Orange realizes that “this book is amazing.”

The cute fruit party is in full swing with a band, a singer, and a whole lot of dancing. The rhymes are coming fast and furious—some a bit better than others, according to Orange—and he decides to just hang out on the next page. There, though, as he stands alone and dejected and surrounded by lots of white space, Orange hears a cheery sound. It’s Apple with a welcoming rhyme: “But the fruit are feeling rotten, ‘cause there’s someone they’ve forgotten.” And while what Apple says next might not technically be a real word, it does the job with a little hip-hop beat: “It’s the orange. He’s really smorange. There’s no one quite as smorange as orange.”

This, of course, could go either way, so Orange asks for a little clarification and discovers that “smorange” means “totally awesome in every way.” And with that, the jam continues, with Smorange Orange out in front.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-smorange

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

Adam Rex’s cool, funny, and sophisticated riff uses the fact that the word orange has no rhyme to explore the ideas of exclusion and inclusion and show readers that there’s always a way to embrace others and make them feel good and part of the group. 

Rex has created very appealing characters in Orange and the others. Without a mean seed in their bodies, they’re just having fun and being a bit silly. In a very welcome plot turn, Apple and the other fruit recognize that Orange feels left out and come to him with a solution. Rex’s vivacious fruit are as cute as they think they are, and little Orange is endearing with his alternately easy smile and sad eyes. The addition of a dancing Friedrich Nietzsche is genius and will have both kids and adults laughing.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nothing-rhymes-with-orange-apple-and-pear

Copyright Adam Rex, 2017, courtesy of Chronicle Books

Nothing Rhymes with Orange is a fantastic read-aloud for home and classroom story times. The book would be a much-asked-for favorite and would make a perfect gift or addition to home libraries.

Ages 5 – 8

Chronicle Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1452154435

You’ll have a blast exploring the world of Adam Rex on his website!

National Respect Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-initial-letter-craft

Initial Respect Craft

 

Here’s an easy craft that you can make for yourself or as a gift for someone else. This Initial Respect Craft can be used as a decoration or as a bookend while it reveals all the qualities that you respect in yourself, a family member, or a friend.

Supplies

  • Wooden letter
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Chalk

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-initial-letter-craft

Directions

  1. Paint the letter with the chalkboard paint, let dry
  2. On the letter, write words that reflect the qualities that you respect in yourself, in a family member, or in a friend
  3. Display your letter to remind yourself that you should always be treated and treat yourself and others with respect.

Picture Book Review

August 3 – It’s Back to School Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-cover

About the Holiday

I know, I know…you’re not ready to go back to school yet! But all over the country, teachers, administrators, parents, and…yes, kids…are preparing for the day when school opens again for another year. Now’s the time to pick that folder that’s just right, find a new backpack, buy some new clothes, and decide that this year is going to be the best year yet! And as today’s book shows—even school is getting ready for school!

School’s First Day of School

Written by Adam Rex | Illustrated by Christian Robinson

 

During the summer an empty lot was cleared and leveled. Bricks were brought in and stacked in neat order to become a school. A sign reading Frederick Douglass Elementary was placed above the door. “’That’s a good name for me,’ thought the school.” On most days Janitor came to the empty school to buff floors, wash windows, and spruce up the classrooms for opening day. The school liked the peaceful days with Janitor.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-janitor

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

It wouldn’t always be this way, though, Janitor told the school. Soon teachers and all kinds of children would arrive, wanting to play and learn. The school didn’t think he liked the sound of that, but Janitor reassured him. Still, the school was wary. On the first day, kids poured off buses and jumped out of cars. They ran through his halls, sat in all the rooms, and opened and closed his doors and lockers. They even scrambled around the jungle-jim.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-jungle-jim

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Then the school heard some older kids talking on the playground. “‘This place stinks,’ said one, and the school gasped. ‘I hate school,’ said another with puffy hair to the agreement of his friends. The school sagged a little.” There was even one little girl with freckles who didn’t want to come into the school at all and had to be carried in. “‘I must be awful,’ the school whispered to himself.” That afternoon when the puffy-haired kid took a drink from the fountain, the school “squirted him in the face. Then he felt bad about it.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-kids-arriving

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

In one kindergarten room, the kids were sitting on one of the school’s rugs. When the teacher asked each student to say their name, they all did, except for the freckled girl. “‘I don’t like school,’” she said to herself, and the school thought, “‘Maybe it doesn’t like you either.’” At last, the ruckus died down, and the school felt a little more peaceful. But then, suddenly, his fire alarm rang and all the children had to leave. They all “walked to the other side of the field and stared at him. He was so embarrassed.” When the kids finally came back in, he held his doors open and said, “‘Sorry. Sorry’” to each one—even the girl with freckles.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-lunch

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

At noon the students ate lunch. At one table a boy told a joke that made another boy blow milk out his nose. While the school thought this a bit icky, he did have to admit it was a pretty funny joke. “Even the girl with freckles liked it.” Back in the kindergarten room, the kids learned about shapes and then drew pictures. The freckled girl drew a picture of the school. The school was impressed. It looked just like him. The teacher even hung the picture on the bulletin board.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-girl's-picture

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

At 3:30 after the kids had gone home, the janitor returned. The school told him all about the day; about the mistaken fire alarm, and the joke, and the little girl’s picture. Janitor told the school that it sounded as if he’d had a big day. The school was surprised. “‘Do you think you could invite everyone to come back tomorrow? Especially that little freckled girl.’” The janitor thought he could do that. Later, when the work was all done, Janitor and the school watched the sun set together. The school admitted that at first he had thought he was the janitor’s house. He guessed that another building was his house. Yes, the janitor said, “‘but you get to be a school. That’s lucky.’ And the school thought he was probably right about that.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-older-kids

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Adam Rex performs a pretty neat trick in personifying a new school building on his first day of school. By infusing the school building with the same emotions as children, Rex lets kids see how their comments, actions, fears, nerves, and successes look from the outside and allows them to embrace their own feelings and empathize with others. Happy with the comfortable camaraderie and routines of life with Janitior, Frederick Douglass Elementary is wary of changes that the first day of school will bring. Like any child leaving home for the first time, the school is a little shocked, uncertain, shy, and thoughtful. And to add a bit of humor, Rex gives the school a small attitude of schoolyard justice. The ending rings true while flipping the idea that teachers live at school and revealing that school is a lucky thing all around.

Christian Robinson captures the heart of the story with his simply drawn yet expressive kids, who smile, scowl, laugh, play, and make friends. The homes and school building are equally emotive, with doors and steps that register happiness or thoughtfulness as the day progresses. Robinson’s bright, distinctive color palette and diverse school population invite readers in to find friends and enjoy a first or another year of school.

School’s First Day of School is a fantastic book to share with kids as the school year approaches and during the first days or when going to school gets tough. The book would be a charming addition to classrooms and home libraries.

Check out more books, art, and other fun stuff by Adam Rex on his website!

Discover more about Christian Robinson, his books, and his artwork on his website!

Back to School Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pencil-maze

Pencil It In Maze

 

School and pencils go together like, , , kids and a fun puzzle! Find your way through this printable Pencil It In Maze!

Picture Book Review

July 13 – International Rock Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-cover

About the Holiday

Today we celebrate the lowly rock that has been—dare I say it?—the rock of our civilization. From earliest times, the rock as given us solid ground to stand on, been used as building material and even the tools to build with, and has provided us with valuable gemstones that beautify our lives. Geology and Archeology are just two of the sciences that explore the wonders of stone—what it is composed of and what secrets it keeps. Today, be more mindful of the rocks around you and take a closer look at the intricate patterns that lie within them.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Written by Drew Daywalt |Illustrated by Adam Rex

 

“Long ago in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard,” Rock ruled. There was just one problem. There was no one left who could challenge this mighty warrior. Rock traveled far and wide, even to the “Forest of Over by the Tire Swing.” Here he spied a tiny opponent with super strength “holding a giant’s underwear.” The trash talking began as Rock called out Clip Man to fight him. Clip Man was not intimidated and threatened to pinch Rock until he cried. The battle was on! With a smash and a crack, Rock easily defeated Clip Man.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-clothes-pin

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Rock’s win just whet his appetite for victory, so he moseyed over to “the Mystical Tower of Grandma’s Favorite Apricot Tree.” There he encountered a small, orange fruit. Rock told the Apricot exactly what he thought of him. Apricot couldn’t let the dis go unchallenged, so the battle was on! Although Apricot gave it his all, his “tart and tangy sweetness” was no match for Rock’s smooshing power. While Rock took some pleasure in his win, it did not bring him the joy he sought. He decided to leave the Kingdom of Backyard in search of a worthy opponent.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-peach

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

“Meanwhile, in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, on lonely and windswept Desk Mountain, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle.” Paper was smart and so clever that “no one could outwit him.” As he roamed across the vast desk, Paper met up with Computer Printer, who vowed to gobble him up and spit him out. The battle was on! But within seconds Computer Printer realized he was in a jam—a Paper jam! Flush with victory Paper rappelled over the side into the “Pit of Office Trash Bin,” where the menacing “Half-Eaten Bag of Trail Mix” awaited him. Paper leapt! Paper blocked the light! The Trail Mix fled! Disheartened by this easy win, Paper also left his kingdom in search of a worthy opponent.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-apricotpng

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Back in “the Kitchen Realm in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. They called her Scissors.” She too was looking for a challenging adversary. She was happy to take on the “tacky and vaguely round monstrosity” who confronted her, but Roll of Tape’s “adhesive and tangling powers” were no match for Scissors’ sharp blades. She sauntered across her kingdom to Refrigerator/Freezer, where the breaded-chicken dinosaurs lived. They were ready to fight, and the battle is on! At first it looks as if the “kid-pleasing shapes and flavors” will vanquish Scissors, but it’s just a plot twist! Scissors is victorious again!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-rock

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Scissors knew it was time to move on, so she left the Kitchen Realm for the “Great Cavern of Two-Car Garage.” There she came face-to-face with Rock. They sized each other up, and Scissors threw down the gauntlet: “I hope you’re wearing your battle pants, rock warrior.” Rock answered: “If by ‘battle pants’ you mean ‘no pants but I’m willing to fight you,’ then yes…yes, I am wearing my battle pants, weird scissory one.” The battle was on!

Rock versus Scissors! The battle raged, until…Rock defeated Scissors. Suddenly, Scissors knew the happiness of having a worthy opponent, but Rock was still unsatisfied. Just then Paper floated onto the scene, and with the well-known fighting words, “Hi there,” the battle was on! Brought down and wrapped up by Paper’s flexible forces, Rock was joyful. But what about Paper? Who could defeat him?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-legend-of-rock-paper-scissors-rock-battle

Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzar + Bray.

Scissors stood on her tippy toes and faced Paper. With one smooth slice, she cut a hole in his win record. Now Paper knew the thrill of defeat. The three warriors became fast friends and battled each other over and over. Their story became legend and their legend became the stuff of “backyards, playgrounds, and yes, even classrooms” as kids around the world play Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Get ready for plenty of dramatic reading, out loud laughs, and ringing cheers the moment you open Drew Daywalt’s The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. This worthy spoof on the warrior genre from Medieval knights to the wrestling ring is a hilarious take down of challenges, trash talking, and bravado with a good bit of truth about the nature of competition and friendship: true friends are open to challenges and supportive when the other guy wins. Daywalt’s freewheeling conversational tone, inspired kingdoms, and cunning choices of opponents will have readers looking at their homes in a whole new light.

Employing the same thrilling spectacle as action movies, Adam Rex brings to life the adrenaline-pumping swagger of three brave warriors. Bold typefaces invite spirited reading, and the details of the realms overseen by Rock, Paper, and Scissors will enthrall kids. Both young and adult readers will want to linger and laugh over every page to check out all the anthropomorphized items that populate these kingdoms.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is sure to be a champion in any child’s home library. It would make a perfect gift and a much-asked-for book for exuberant story times.

Ages 4 – 9

Balzar + Bray, 2017 | ISBN  978-0062438898

Check out books, art, and other fun stuff by Adam Rex on his website!

International Rock Day Activity

Rock Paper Scissors Extravaganza

 

Come on! You know you want to! Find someone or many someones and challenge them to the battle of all rock, paper, scissors battles!

Picture Book Review

March 15 – True Confessions Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-xo-ox-a-love-story-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday encourages people to tell what’s on their minds even if it’s hard to do. Keeping a secret can be stressful as you ponder all the reactions that might result from its disclosure. But your imagination can run away with you! Instead of wondering and fretting, make that confession! If you’re divulging a secret affection, you may find that it is reciprocated! If it’s a guilty secret, you’ll probably discover that your apology is accepted easily. Either way, you’ll be relieved and able to move on to a new and better relationship.

XO, OX: A Love Story

Written by Adam Rex | Illustrated by Scott Campbell

 

Ox has finally gotten up the courage to write to his heart’s desire. He sits on the edge of his bed, lap desk upon his knees scribbling away. “Dear Gazelle, For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to tell you how much I admire you.” He goes on to praise her gracefulness and remarks that even when she is “running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running from tigers.” He ends with a declaration of love and XO, OX.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-xo-ox-a-love-story-ox-writes-letter

Image copyright Scott Campbell, text copyright Adam Rex. Courtesy of Roaring Brook Press.

Gazelle, lounging on her daybed and admiring herself in a mirror nonchalantly hands her response to her assistant. “Dear Ox, Thank you for your letter. I hope you understand that I have many admirers and cannot reply to each one personally.” She says “Au revoir” with the gift of a signed photograph and moves on to the next letter in the overflowing box of fan mail.

The ever-optimistic Ox writes back while sitting on a park bench and enjoying a cup of steaming coffee. Gazelle’s picture is propped against a guitar, and little friends gather nearby. In his letter, Ox reveals that he does understand about the many other admirers and that makes it all the more meaningful that she responded to his letter personally. He signs off “XO, OX.” In return, Gazelle shoots off her standard letter and encloses another signed photo.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-xo-ox-a-love-story-gazelle-answers

Image copyright Scott Campbell, text copyright Adam Rex. Courtesy of Roaring Brook Press.

Ox is overjoyed to receive a second letter. The “coincidence” of the exact wording to the preceding letter only reinforces his opinion that Gazelle is “very smart” and has “a tidy mind.” He urges her reject the idea that he only loves her because she is pretty. He also loves that she is smart. Gazelle receives Ox’s letter (sealed with a big, red heart) while floating on a raft in the pool, a tall, cool drink floating nearby on its own poof. Her response is a departure from the usual, but only because she is insulted that anyone would think her “repetitive.” While she admits to many faults, this is not one of them. It seems she couldn’t be much clearer when she ends her letter with, “There is no need to write me again.”

Ox reads and rereads Gazelle’s note. Ignoring the last line, he focuses on the “ridiculous” thought that she has many faults. Ox assures her that she only has “one or two.” Gazelle takes offense and from her vanity table tells Ox that his “clumsy brain” has led him away from the usual response to her self-deprecation, which is that she has no faults. She then can’t help but mention the faults of other animals, such as being “too large and too stout” and having “strong smells about them and clumsy brains.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-xo-ox-a-love-story-ox-writes-letter-on-floor

Image copyright Scott Campbell, text copyright Adam Rex. Courtesy of Roaring Brook Press.

Ox does not have such a “clumsy brain” and humbly accepts Gazelle’s criticism. In fact he states that he is glad to know what his faults are and tells Gazelle “you make me want to be the best Ox I can be.” His love for her—“the unflattering light of my life”—is undimmed, and he is looking forward to her next letter. Gazelle puts an end to it once and for all. She writes that there will be no next letter, clarifying that “this letter doesn’t count.”

HaHa, thinks Ox when he reads this. He quickly pens a note telling Gazelle how much he loves her sense of humor. Gazelle is brutal. She orders Ox to stop and tells him he is wasting his time. She lays out her reasons: “I could never love a clumsy thing. I could never love a smelly thing.” She goes on to list all of the aforementioned faults and adds that she could never love someone “so thick and ungraceful and awful and unlovely. And unlovable.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-xo-ox-a-love-story-gazelle-asks-ox-to-stop

Image copyright Scott Campbell, text copyright Adam Rex. Courtesy of Roaring Brook Press.

You might think Ox would be devastated, but in this tirade he finds one of Gazelle’s faults—and he tells her that her ability to reveal it to him only makes him love her more. He closes with his usual XO, OX and includes a photograph of himself. Gazelle is incredulous. She rips the picture into bits, but then gazes at the pieces again and smiles. “Dear Ox,” she scribbles as she sits on the edge of her bed, lap desk upon her knees and with the taped-together photograph of her beau looking on.

There’s something for every age in Adam Rex’s XO, OX: A Love Story. Little ones will find the snooty Gazelle and humble Ox funny in their persistent writing and reactions to each letter. Older kids will understand the dynamics at work and will get the sly wordplay, the twist on whom exactly is “thick, ungraceful, and awful”, and the idea that perhaps the lady doth protest too much. And adults will never make it through without out loud guffaws on almost every page. Wondering how Ox will respond to each of Gazelle’s letters is such delicious suspense, and his kindness in the face of her derision will tug at readers’ hearts.

Scott Campbell’s softy colored line drawings offer hilarious touches to fill out the details of the homes and lives of these smitten pen pals. In a stroke of genius, Gazelle’s personal assistant is a sunglasses-wearing mole, suggesting Gazelle’s own perception of her dazzling brilliance. Clever contrasts in the lifestyles of barrel-bodied Ox, who writes at a rustic desk and relaxes by a pond, and lithe Gazelle, who writes from her elegant vanity and lounges in her pool, demonstrate that their similarities may outweigh their differences. The touching ending that brings the relationship between Ox and Gazelle full circle as he sends her a photograph and she responds is satisfying and sweet.

XO, OX: A Love Story would be a funny, fantastic addition to anyone’s home library—one that can provide laughs or balm for feeling hearts. 

Ages 4 and up

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626722880

Discover the world of Adam Rex, including his art, picture books, and books for older kids, on his website!

View a gallery of illustration by Scott Campbell on his website!

True Confessions Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hexagonal-maze

Secret Tunnel Maze

 

Can you find your way through the secret tunnel to the truth in this printable Secret Tunnel Maze? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review