November 19 – It’s Family Stories Month

`celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-more-hug-cover

About the Holiday

Familiar stories are part of the glue that keep families together. This month, when homes can be full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for the Thanksgiving holiday, is a perfect time to share those stories once again with the youngest members in mind. Whether the events and anecdotes happened last week or long ago, each story brings family members closer and provides a bridge from generation to generation. 

One More Hug

Written by Megan Alexander | Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

 

As the story opens, a mom looks back at a special night when while tucking her little one into bed he was frightened by a tree at the window and asked for “‘One more hug, Mama.’” One day, a broken toy brought tears and a request: “‘one more kiss, Mama.’” Mama remembers the first day of school and standing at the bus stop. She squeezed her little boy tight as the bus approached. When the bus stopped and the “doors opened with a loud SCREEEECH,” the boy “whispered, ‘One more squeeze, Mama.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-more-hug-leaf-dragon

Image copyright Hiroe Nakata, 2019, text copyright Megan Alexandra, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

As her boy grew older, the tree that had once frightened him became a favorite to climb, the toys were replaced with a bicycle, and any reservations about the bus were long gone. But now there were new experiences, and her son asked for one more hug before going out on stage, “one more kiss after [he] slipped on the ice. One more song before bedtime.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-more-hug-sword

Image copyright Hiroe Nakata, 2019, text copyright Megan Alexandra, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

Years went by and climbing the backyard tree led to climbing a rock wall. The boy taught his little brother how to ride his bike while he “joined the track team, and ran all the way to school.” At last came the day when the boy was all grown up and drove away with a backward glance and a wave goodbye. Then his mother wondered if her son knew how proud she was of him and how much she loved him. She hoped he knew that he would always be her boy and that she “would always be there for [him].” And then came the day when her son surprised his mama with a visit, and they both got “one more hug.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-more-hug-bus

Image copyright Hiroe Nakata, 2019, text copyright Megan Alexandra, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

In her heart-swelling story, Megan Alexander, a national correspondent for Inside Edition, has written a love letter to children that perfectly expresses the emotions parents feel for their children as they grow from babyhood to adulthood. Based on her own experiences with her two young sons, Alexander’s story is a warm embrace of reassurance that lets little ones and those beginning to chart their own course know that parental love and support is always with them. Her focus is particularly on raising sons who understand that it’s okay to have fears and share their feelings with those they love.

Alexander’s lyrical storytelling with repeated phrasing builds a bridge between ages as the boy grows up while also cementing the bond between mother and son. As much as this story is for children, adults will feel a lump in their throat as the boy moves away and his mother wonders if he knows how much she loves him. Alexander’s honest depiction of that universal hope gives the story a multilayered depth that gives children insight into their parents’ feelings—another kind of bond that will resonate with repeated readings as the child grows older.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-more-hug-growing

Image copyright Hiroe Nakata, 2019, text copyright Megan Alexandra, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

Hiroe Nakata’s lovely watercolor and ink illustrations shimmer with the rapport between mother and son. Nakata uses alternating wide-angle images and close-up views to emphasize the tender moments that “one more” hug or kiss provide. Snapshots of familiar, yet fresh-feeling activities undertaken during different seasons show the boy growing and becoming stronger and wiser at pivotal stages of his life. The mother expresses joy, sympathy, understanding, and always an abiding love. The final spreads where the now-adult son comes home with arms open for his mama, shows clearly that he, indeed, knows how much she loves him.

The family theme is carried out in animal pairs that populate Nakata’s beautiful nature settings. Among these, a snail and her baby crawl near the boy’s newspaper hat, a mother and baby squirrel scamper up the tree next to the bus stop, and ants parade into their hole carrying food for the nest. Children will enjoy finding these animals on nearly every page, and they will fall in love with the family’s adorable dog, who also grows up throughout the story.

A story parents or caregivers and their children will love to snuggle up with, One More Hug makes a wonderful gift and addition to home, school, and library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Aladdin, 2019 | ISBN 978-1534429710

Discover more about Megan Alexander, her work, and a song she wrote that was inspired by the story, von her website.

Family Stories Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-coupons

Free Hug Coupons

 

Everyone needs a hug now and then! With these printable Free Hug Coupons you can be sure that all of your favorite people get a sweet hug when they need it most.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-more-hug-cover

You can find One More Hug at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

September 18 – It’s Friendship Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-cover

About the Holiday

Do you have friends you haven’t seen or talked to in a while? Is there someone new at work or school who could use a friend to show them the ropes or grab lunch with? If so, this month’s holiday gives you the opportunity to reach out and say hi. Instituted a decade ago by the Oddfellows organization in the UK, Friendship Month is a super time to show kindness to those you know and those you don’t—yet!  

Superbuns! Kindness Is Her Superpower

By Diane Kredensor

 

Superbuns had everything she needed to be super kind: “listening ears, big caring eyes, [a] warm happy smile,” and a “huge heart.” While other people appreciated her kindness, her big sister Blossom was dismissive. To her, her little sister was just “Buns.” She didn’t possess any “real” superpowers like super strength, super speed, or the ability to leap over tall buildings. Still, Superbuns went around the neighborhood putting out the trash cans for an elderly lady, helping a younger bunny fly his kite, and offering an umbrella to someone just in the nick of time.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-watering-carrots

Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

Blossom was a self-proclaimed know-it-all. She knew lots of facts, which she was happy to spout while she and Buns walked over to Grammy’s house with a freshly baked carrot cobbler. On the way, Superbuns complimented a little bunny’s smile, fed a fish who was enjoying a little sun on a windowsill, and helped a busy rabbit flip pancakes through an open window. She even made balloon animals for two bunnies. “Blossom thought all this kindness was slowing them down” and she didn’t want to deliver a cold cobbler to Grammy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-real-superpowers

Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

But Superbuns just couldn’t help herself. When Blossom (and the cobbler) was about to be splashed by a biker riding through a puddle, and when she needed help opening the grocery store door (because everyone knows you can’t eat cobbler without cold milk), Superbuns was there. In fact, Miss Fox was also entering the store, and Superbuns held the door for her too. Seeing this, Blossom had a tizzy. She screamed, slipped, and lost control of the cobbler.

Flat on her back, Blossom shouted for Buns to run. She knew “all about foxes. First she’ll gobble up the cobbler. Then she’ll gobble up us,” she cried. Miss Fox gazed at the dish of cobbler that had fallen into her hands and then at Superbuns who was cheerfully waving at her. “Here you go,” Miss Fox said, handing the cobbler to Buns.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-kind-acts

Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

Turned out little Miss Fox wasn’t interested in gobbling up the cobbler or the bunnies. She just needed directions home because she was lost. Blossom couldn’t believe it. “Lost?” she asked. She grabbed Miss Fox by the hand and pulled her down the sidewalk with Superbuns and the cobbler in tow. Blossom, it seemed, knew “EVERYTHING about being lost.” She knew the most commonly lost items, where Bun’s lost homework had eventually been found, about the city of Atlantis and the colony of Roanoke, grammar and spelling facts about the word lost, and, of course, just how to get to Foxtrot Trail where Miss Fox lived.

When they finally stood outside Miss Fox’s house, Miss Fox gave Blossom a big hug and said, “Thanks for helping me not be lost, Superblossom.” Blossom smiled. “And just like that, Blossom learned she didn’t know everything about everything.” She even decided that kindness “was kind of… super.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-blossom

Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

Diane Kredensor’s bouncy story of an irrepressible spirit will have readers convinced that kindness is indeed a superpower in a hop, skip, and a jump. As big sister Blossom leads the way through town nattering on about all the facts she knows and her opinion on kindness, Buns trails in her wake with her red cape fluttering and her eyes open for ways she can help. Kids will laugh at Blossom’s know-it-all persona and breathless recitations from her vast store of knowledge, but they’ll smile and “aww” as Superbuns springs into action all along their route. When they encounter Miss Fox, Blossom slips up in more ways than one and learns that you can’t always read a book by its cover or know everything about everything. As Blossom accepts a grateful hug from Miss Fox, kids will join Blossom in understanding that while knowing facts may be useful, knowing love is super.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-description

With her buck teeth, wide eyes, slightly goofy-but-always-ready grin, and superhero outfit, Superbuns is an endearing friend that kids will fall in love with. Kredensor, an Emmy award-winning director and producer of, creator of, and contributor to children’s programming across the network spectrum, fills her pages with all the charm of a favorite cartoon combined with the immersive details of animation. Her well-paced storytelling leading to the pratfall that changes Blossom’s perspective will keep readers rapt until the sweet ending.

Sure to be a hit during any story time, Superbuns! Kindness Is Her Superpower would be an often-asked-for addition to home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Aladdin, 2019 | ISBN 978-1481490689

To learn more about Diane Kredensor, her books, her animation work, and more, visit her website

Friendship Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-give-me-your-hand-puzzle-cutout-no-copyright

Give Me Your Hand! Interchangeable Puzzle

 

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

Supplies

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-puzzle-scattered-2

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-welcome-puzzle-in-a-line-white-no-copyright

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-cover

You can find Superbuns! Kindness Is Her Superpower at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

May 23 – It’s National Smile Month and Interview with Erin Danielle Russell

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-how-to-trick-the-tooth-fairy-cover

About the Holiday

First celebrated in Britain in 1977, this holiday has been embraced by other countries around the world. The aim of the holiday is to promote awareness of good oral health through teeth brushing and flossing, cutting down on sugary sweets, and seeing your dentist regularly. Healthy teeth lead to a bright smile, and smiles lead to feeling better and enjoying life more!

How to Trick the Tooth Fairy

Written by Erin Danielle Russell | Illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

 

Kaylee seemed born to pull pranks. Her eyes sparkled with mischief, she knew how to creep up on people unawares, she was cute and smart, and April Fool’s Day was her favorite holiday. There was never a time when Kaylee wasn’t pulling or planning pranks. But there was actually someone else who was a bigger trickster than Kaylee—the Tooth Fairy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-how-to-trick-the-tooth-fairy-tricks-everyday

Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

The Tooth Fairy, with her “smirky smile, fairy wings for a quick getaway”, and bag full of more tricks than teeth, was the reigning “prank princess.” But when the Tooth Fairy flew into Kaylee’s room to retrieve her tooth, she reached under the pillow and pulled out a… toy frog. There was only one thing for the Tooth Fairy to do—leave real frogs in her wake. For Kaylee, this meant “Game on!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-how-to-trick-the-tooth-fairy-kaylee-sleeping

Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

To make amends, Kaylee baked up a berry (and hot sauce) pie and gave the Tooth Fairy a piece. With her mouth on fire, the Tooth Fairy retaliated with an a la ice cream mess. Kaylee grabbed the sprayer to wash off the whipped cream and sprinkles but “turned it on the Tooth Fairy” instead. A wave of the Tooth Fairy’s wand turned those water droplets into cats and dogs. The sudden downpour scared Kaylee, and she ran for the closet. The Tooth Fairy hadn’t meant to scare Kaylee so she went to find her. Kaylee was ready with a slingshot and a wad of gum.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-how-to-trick-the-tooth-fairy-frogs

Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Things got sticky, and in the battle, the Tooth Fairy’s magic wand split apart. “And if you know anything about tooth fairies, you know a broken wand means… Topsy-Turvy Tooth Fairy Trouble!” Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy cowered under the table as swirling clouds and lightning sent everything in the kitchen flying. When things settle down, Kaylee looked at the Tooth Fairy and the Tooth Fairy looked at Kaylee.

“Kaylee had one more trick up her pajama sleeve.” She and the Tooth Fairy used the sprayer to clean up the floor and the bubble gun to fix the wand. They sent the cats and dogs soaring back into the sky with little umbrellas and the frogs hopping happily into the yard. Soon the kitchen was shiny and neat again, and Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy shared fairy-dust cookies as Kaylee handed over her lost tooth. That night was just the beginning for “two prank princesses and one new friendship.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-how-to-trick-the-tooth-fairy-topsy-turvy

Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Erin Danielle Russell’s talent for humor and creating feisty heroines is on full, fun display in her rollicking debut picture book. With her vivacious, conversational tone, Russell crafts the camaraderie of a sleepover even as the two pranksternistas try to outwit each other. After their tricks send them both ducking for cover, they discover that they’re kindred spirits and make perfect best friends.

From the glittery cover to the wild, action-packed pages, Jennifer Hansen Rolli conjures up delightfully designed trickery that will charm kids. Rolli sets the stage with examples of Kaylee’s early pranks on her sister and classmates (two of whom are appropriately wary of the chocolate sandwich cookies on offer, while an unsuspecting newcomer is all smiles). Rolli’s rich color pallet enhances the magical atmosphere,and images of a fully laden dessert table, puppies and kittens plummeting into the kitchen, and the Tooth Fairy stuck to the refrigerator with gum will make kids laugh out loud. While mischief is evident in both Kaylee’s and the Tooth Fairy’s eyes, it’s also clear that they understand and like each other, making their battle of wits a playful challenge.

Perfect for reading when a child has lost a tooth, How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is also an original friendship story for any time of year. Children will love keeping the book on hand for repeated readings when the Tooth Fairy is expected.

Ages 4 – 8

Aladdin, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481467322

Discover more about Erin Danielle Russell and her books on her How to Trick the Tooth Fairy website

To learn more about Jennifer Hansen Rolli, her books, and her art, visit her website.

This How to Trick the Tooth Fairy book trailer is sure to make smile!

Meet Erin Danielle Russell

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-erin-danielle-russell-headshot

Erin Danielle Russell is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling Dork Diaries. How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is her first picture book. Today, I’m excited to talk with her about how How to Trick the Tooth Fairy came about, writing space, and her favorite pranks.

What inspired you to write How to Trick the Tooth Fairy?

How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is inspired by my childhood.  It’s a book I would’ve wanted to read as a child because I’d always wanted to meet the Tooth Fairy and become friends with her.  My character, Kaylee, is basically living my dream!

Can you talk a little about the journey to getting How to Trick the Tooth Fairy published?

Funny story, but the idea for How to Trick the Tooth Fairy came to me when was sick with the flu.  I was stuck in bed with nothing to do, so I wrote the first draft for fun in a notebook.  Later, I polished it, submitted it to my literary agent, found an amazing illustrator, named Jennifer Hansen Rolli, to bring my book to life, and the rest is history!

Losing that first tooth is such a rite of passage for kids, with celebrations at school and the fun surrounding the Tooth Fairy or other traditions at home. Do you remember losing your first tooth?

I do remember losing my first tooth and my first Tooth Fairy visit!  I was super excited to find money under my pillow where my tooth had been.  And, the best part was seeing the trail of glittery fairy dust across my bedroom floor!  It was solid evidence to me that the Tooth Fairy and magic were real, and I became a total Tooth Fairy fangirl after that!

Do you like to pull pranks? What was your favorite kind of prank?

I was a little prankster when I was Kaylee’s age, and owned a whoopee cushion, hand buzzer, invisible ink, and fake bugs. The whoopee cushion was my favorite!    

What’s the best part about being an author for young readers?

The best part about being an author for young readers is making them laugh and showing them that reading can be fun.  I’m a bookworm to this day because I fell in love with the picture books my parents read to me as a kid.  I hope I can inspire young readers to love books like I do.

What was your favorite picture book when you were a child?

There are so many wonderful picture books to choose from!  But, if I have to narrow it down to one, I’d say Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, because Harold could turn all his ideas into reality, and I wanted that ability too.  I even drew on my bedroom walls with a purple crayon to be like him, but that wasn’t such a good idea.  Lol!

Do you have a special place that you like to write? Can you describe it a little?

I’m not much of a desk person, so my favorite place to write is in my bed because it’s comfy and cozy.  I just prop up a few pillows, light a scented candle, and I’m in my happy writing place!

What’s up next for you?

I’m currently working on a second picture book and a middle grade book.  After writing How to Trick the Tooth Fairy, I’d love to write more fantasy.

What is your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Christmas.  I love the festivities, music, food and how magical it was for me as a child. 

Do you have an anecdote from any holiday that you’d like to share?

Some of my favorite Christmas memories revolve around picture books.  I loved reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  When I was eight, I even wrote and illustrated my own picture book in a spiral notebook about a girl, named Melody, who helped Santa Claus deliver Christmas presents all over the world on Christmas Eve.

Thanks so much for chatting! I wish you all the best with How to Trick the Tooth Fairy and all of your books!

You can connect with Erin Danielle Russell on

Official How to Trick the Tooth Fairy Website | Facebook | InstagramTwitter

National Smile Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Smile-for-the-tooth-fairy-mazeSmile for the Tooth Fairy! Maze

 

The Tooth Fairy is trying to collect a lost tooth! Can you help her find her way in this printable maze?

Smile for the Tooth Fairy! Maze | Smile for the Tooth Fairy! Maze Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-how-to-trick-the-tooth-fairy-cover

You can find How to Trick the Tooth Fairy at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review