November 23 – It’s Family Stories Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crowded-farmhouse-folktale-cover

About the Holiday

All families have stories—some funny, some poignant—about family members, friends, and events from the past and even just last week or yesterday! Today’s holiday encourages people to share their stories and is celebrated this month when families typically get together for Thanksgiving. Although our Thanksgiving gatherings will be different this year, sharing stories can still be a part of the day. Oral storytelling, which has been part of people’s lives and culture since ancient times, is a wonderful way to stay connected to your own family heritage and build bonds that last forever.

A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale

Written by Karen Rostoker-Gruber | Illustrated by Kristina Swarner

 

“Farmer Earl, his wife, Marge, and too many children to mention lived in an itty-bitty house….” Their house was so small they hardly had room to turn around. Fed up, Farmer Earl decided to go see the wise woman nearby and ask her advice. The wise woman listened to the farmer’s tale of woe and told him, “Put all of your ducks in your house.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crowded-farmhouse-folktale-rooster

Image copyright Kristina Swarner, 2020, text copyright Karen Rostoker-Gruber, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman.

Farmer Earl wasn’t sure how that would help, but back home, he and Marge rounded up all of their ducks and slipped them one-by-one through the window. “The ducks flapped. / The ducks quacked. / The ducks waddled. / The ducks quacked.” They sat on the mantle and in the fireplace. They laid eggs on the floor and their feathers floated everywhere. For the family, “There was no room to sit, / no room to pace, / no room to rest, / no extra space.” Farmer Earl thought it was way too crowded and went back to see the wise woman.

When she heard how the farmer’s house was still too small for his family, she looked up from her knitting and told him, “‘Put all of your horses in your house.’” This didn’t seem to help at all. There were horses showering in the bathtub and ducks bathing in the toilet; horses eating the toilet paper and ducks in the sink. One duck even started nibbling Farmer Earl’s hat. Now there really “was no room to sit, / no room to pace, / no room to rest, / no extra space.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crowded-farmhouse-folktale-family

Image copyright Kristina Swarner, 2020, text copyright Karen Rostoker-Gruber, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman.

This time when the farmer visited the wise woman, she gave him advice he didn’t want to hear, but when he got home, he did it anyway. It “proved to be a disaster.” Clothes, socks, and even the curtains were gnawed, the beds were rumpled, and food lay scattered all over the kitchen floor. He hurried back to the wise woman and shouted, “‘I’ve had enough!’” Sipping her tea, the wise woman listened to the farmer’s complaints, and then gave one more bit of advice – to return all of the animals to their place on the farm.

“‘How is that going to help?’ wondered Farmer Earl,” but once the animals were back where they belonged and the farmer came home to “no ducks snacking… / no ducks quacking…. / no horses chomping… / no horses stomping…. / no goats licking… / no goats kicking…,” he found there really was room for all!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crowded-farmhouse-folktale-ducks

Image copyright Kristina Swarner, 2020, text copyright Karen Rostoker-Gruber, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman.

Based on an old Yiddish folktale, Karen Rostoker-Gerber’s story is a hilarious reminder of the importance of perspective in life. Repeated words and phrases build on each other and invite kids to join in the fun as the animals wreck havoc throughout the tiny farmhouse. Farmer Earl’s reliance on the wise woman’s suggestions sets up suspenseful scenes with delightfully funny outcomes that readers will eagerly anticipate. When the animals are all back outside and Farmer Earl realizes the house is big enough for them all, kids will appreciate the cleverness of the wise woman and may look at their own difficult situations in a new way.

Kristina Swarner’s vivid and textured folk-art style illustrations perfectly reflect the plot and humor of the story. As a rooster wakens the family and multiple faces and pets can be seen in each of the farmhouse windows, readers are enticed to count, from page to page, just how many people live in this “itty-bitty” home. Lively images of the house filling up with animals will have kids laughing out loud and wanting to take stock of all the mayhem they’re causing. Astute readers may notice that while Farmer Earl considers his house too small, his children play happily in the space they have, revealing that contentment is the secret to a happy home.

An excellent choice for a rousing story time with a philosophical message, A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale would be a welcome addition to home, school, and library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 7

Albert Whitman & Company, 2020 | ISBN 978-0807556924

Discover more about Karen Rostoker-Gerber and her books on her website.

You can read an interview with Karen here.

To learn more about Kristina Swarner, her books, and her art, visit her website.

A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale Giveaway

I’m happy to be teaming up with Karen Rostoker-Gerber in a giveaway of

  • One (1) copy of A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale, written by Karen Rostoker-Gerber| illustrated by Kristina Swarner

To enter:

  • Follow Celebrate Picture Books
  • Retweet a giveaway tweet
  • Reply with your favorite farm animal for an extra entry. Each reply earns one extra entry.

This giveaway is open from November 23 to November 30 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on December 1. 

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. 

Family Stories Week Activity

CPB - Animal Matching Cards

Animal Match-Up Game

 

During Family Stories Month it’s fun to play games together while learning more about each other. Play this fun matching game to find pairs of animals and talk about your favorite animals, pet stories, and the animals you’d like to see up close!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print two sheets of the Animal Matching Cards for each player
  2. Color the cards (optional)
  3. Cut the cards apart
  4. Scramble the cards and lay them out face-side down
  5. Choosing one card at a time, turn one face up and then another.
  6. If the two cards match leave them face up
  7. If the two cards do not match lay them face down and try again.
  8. As you find matching pairs, leave the cards face up until all the pairs have been found.
  9. If playing against other players, the first to match all their animal cards is the winner

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crowded-farmhouse-folktale-cover

You can find A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

September 27 – National Family Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what-is-a-family-cover

About the Holiday

The purpose of today’s holiday is simple—to fully appreciate the family one has, whether it is small or large, whether members live close together or far apart. The founders of Family Day, which is celebrated on different dates around the world, wanted people to relax their busy schedules and spend time with those they love in a meaningful and fun way. This year we may be spending more time with family than usual, which has led to some thoughtful, creative, and fun ways to pass the time. To honor today’s holiday, let your family members know how much they mean to you. 

What is a Family?

Written by Annette Griffin | Illustrated by Nichola Cowdery

 

Early in life, little ones—loved by mom and dad, two moms, or two dads and perhaps siblings; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; and other extended family members—discover that all of these people are their family. But they may wonder: what does that word really mean? As kids play with their pets, visit zoos and aquariums, and read about animals, they may also wonder if animals have families. What is a Family? answers these questions with bouncy rhymes that introduce children to an alphabetic variety of animals and the scientific names of their groups. But first, it answers that most important question and reveals that “Families are groups / that take care of their own. / They all stick together / to help make a home.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what-is-a-family-groups

Image copyright Nichola Cowdery, 2020, text copyright Annette Griffin, 2020. Courtesy of Familius.

At A,B, and C kids learn that “Ants have a colony. / Bats have a cloud. / Chickens have peeps / where they can get loud.” The names of many family groups seem perfectly fitting for the animals’ personalities or traits. Take these at M,N, and O, for instance: “Mice have their mischiefs, / and narwhals, a blessing. / Oysters have beds— / not for sleeping, I’m guessing.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what-is-a-family-ants

Image copyright Nichola Cowdery, 2020, text copyright Annette Griffin, 2020. Courtesy of Familius.

Little ones will love and take pride in learning about unusual animals, like quail, umbrellabirds, and xerus as well as the clever names for their family groups in Annette Griffin’s charming verses that provide a smattering of behavioral facts about the animals along the way. Griffin ends her story with this snug reassurance: “…families are special, / though not all the same. / It’s the caring and sharing / that gives them the name” that can lead adults and children to discuss the variety of families, cultures, and traditions that make up our world.

Nichola Cowdery populates this nicely sized, soft-covered board book with adorable birds, fish, reptiles, and forest, jungle, and plains animals set in their realistic habitats. Her vibrant colors and whimsical details will captivate young readers. Little ones will also be drawn to the images of the ways in which babies and adult animals interact. There’s plenty here to set little learners giggling too, which enhances the reading experience.

Sure to be a family favorite for story time and bedtime, What is a Family? would be an endearing and educational book to add to home, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 1 – 5

Familius, 2020 | ISBN 978-1641702447

Discover more about Annette Griffin and her books on her website.

To learn more about Nichola Cowdery, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Family Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-animal-matching-cards

Match Up the Animals! Game

 

Match up animal family members in this fun printable game that tests your powers of memory!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the Animal Pairs Cards, print two pages to have double cards. To make the game more difficult print 3 or more pages to find 3 or more groups of matching animals
  2. Color the cards
  3. Cut out the cards
  4. Lay the cards face down on a table in random order
  5. Turn over cards to look for matching pairs
  6. When you find a matching pair leave the cards face up
  7. Continue playing until you find all the matching animal pairs or groups

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what-is-a-family-cover

You can find What is a Family? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

November 20 – It’s Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-cover

About the Holiday

Animals and humans coexist on Earth in so many amazing ways. Our pets are beloved family members, we interact and care for the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and other backyard animals that we see every day, and we are mindful of and should be caretakers of the wild animals that inhabit the plains, mountains, and seas of our planet. Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week was established by the Animals & Society Institute, which “helps improve and expand knowledge about human-animal relationships in order to create safer and more compassionate communities for all.” Over this week people are encouraged to think about companion animals, assistance animals, animals in shelters, and the safety and well-being of the animals in our care. To celebrate, spend more time with your pet and consider donating to your local animal shelter or wildlife organization.

Children Make Terrible Pets

By Peter Brown

 

One day Lucy Beatrice Bear was practicing ballet when she smelled someone nearby. She ordered whoever it was to come out. “Squeak,” said the little boy. When he emerged from his hiding place and Lucy got a good look at him, she was delighted. “OH. MY. GOSH! You are the cutest critter in the WHOLE forest!” she exclaimed. “Squeak,” said the boy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-meets-squeaker (2)

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Lucy picked him up and raced home. She burst in where her mom was reading and held him up. “Look what I found outside! I call him Squeaker because he makes funny sounds.” She begged her mom to let her keep him. Lucy’s mom scolded her daughter for bringing a child into the house, reminding her, “Don’t you know children make terrible pets?” But Lucy pleaded and showed her mom how cute he was and assured her that he would be no trouble.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-can-I-keep-him

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Finally, Lucy’s mom relented—but with one stipulation: Lucy had to take care of him herself. Lucy agreed and told her mom that she’d see that this child would be “the best -+pet EVER.” Lucy and Squeaker did everything together, but while they had fun playing, eating, and napping together, having Squeaker as a pet wasn’t all a bed of roses. For one thing, he was hard to litter box train. He also ran wild and tore up the furniture, tracked in mud, threw food, and even swung from the chandelier.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-playing-together

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Then suddenly, Squeaker disappeared. Lucy searched everywhere, but just as she was about to give up, “her sensitive nose caught a whiff of her Squeaker.” Lucy followed her nose all through the forest until she finally found him. But as Lucy watched Squeaker having a picnic lunch with three other humans outside a house, “Squeaker didn’t seem like a pet anymore.” Sadly, Lucy said goodbye to Squeaker and headed back home. On the way she thought about how much she would miss him but decided it was all for the best.

When she got home, she told her mom all about it and had to agree that her mom had been right. “Children do make terrible pets,” she said. But she knew the elephant she found would be just perfect….

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-Lucy-agrees-with-mom

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Peter Brown’s flip-flop of the “Mom-can-I-keep-him” story will have all readers laughing along—pet owners because they know what a new animal in the house can do, adults because they know what shenanigans little ones can get up to, and kids because…well, the story’s so funny. Brown’s dialog between Lucy and her mother perfectly reflects children’s unbridled zeal when they really, really want something and a parent’s wariness of giving in to a request. On the final page as Lucy finds another pet to love, kids share the knowledge of their own boundless capacity for enthusiasm.

Brown’s illustrations delight with the uninhibited zest kids have for adventures as well as their ability to move on from a disappointment to something new. Lucy’s eager expressions will make kids giggle and adults smile knowingly. Squeaker’s silent acquiescence to being adopted by Lucy and his wild behavior humorously depict children’s readiness for pretend play.

Ages 4 – 7

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010 | ISBN 978-0316015486

You can learn more about Peter Brown, his books, and his art as well as find coloring pages and activity sheets on his website.

Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-matching-animal-matching-game

Animal Matching Game

 

There are so many animals to love! Play this fun matching game to find pairs of favorite animals!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print two sheets of the Animal Matching Cards for each player
  2. Color the cards (optional)
  3. Cut the cards apart
  4. Scramble the cards and lay them out face-side down
  5. Choosing one card at a time, turn one face up and then another.
  6. If the two cards match leave them face up
  7. If the two cards do not match lay them face down and try again.
  8. As you find matching pairs, leave the cards face up until all the pairs have been found.
  9. If playing against other players, the first to match all their animal cards is the winner

Picture Book Review