December 2 – National Mutt Day

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About the Holiday

Today we honor mutts—those sweet-natured, mixed-breed dogs that make wonderful pets and companions. Did you know that mixed-breed dogs tend to be healthier, are better behaved, and live longer than pure-bred dogs? Unfortunately, mutts make up the largest percentage of dogs found at shelters and are often passed over in favor of their pure-bred counterparts. Today’s holiday was established in 2005 and is also celebrated on July 31 to raise awareness of the wonderful characteristics of mixed-breed dogs and the benefits of adopting a mutt into your family. If you are considering adding a dog or puppy to your household, check out the mutts at your local shelter. You may just end up with a friend as adorable and unique as the sweetie in today’s book!

Shark Dog!

By Ged Adamson

 

When you have a dad who’s an explorer, life can be full of adventures. There are fabulous trips to far-flung places where you see “beautiful butterflies and strange plants, tortoises as big as cars, and colorful birds in huge trees.” Yes, the days can be magical, but they can be mysterious too. How? Well, listen to this amazing story…

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, courtesy of gedadamson.com.

Hi! You heard about the incredible trip with the butterflies and tortoises, right? Great! But what you didn’t hear is how on that same trip “I had a strange feeling I was being followed.” I even heard a strange noise toward the back of our boat, but I was so tired I didn’t investigate. In the middle of the night, though, “something woke me from a deep, peaceful sleep. Something slobbery!” You’ll never in a million years guess what it was. Next to my bunk was the oddest creature I ever saw—a little guy that was “half dog and half shark.”

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, courtesy of gedadamson.com.

Dad was as surprised as I was. But the best part was that he said I could keep him. As soon as we landed on shore, Shark Dog was off like a shot, checking out the surroundings…in his own special way. Let’s just say when Shark Dog dove into the fountain, all the other creatures dove out, and at the park, while other dogs retrieved sticks, Shark Dog retrieved a whole tree.

Sometimes Shark Dog seemed to get his sharkiness and his doginess a little mixed up, but at all times he “was a fun friend to have around.” As you might imagine, Shark Dog loved the beach even though there could be a lot of screaming and panicked paddling when his fin popped up among the waves. One day, the beach was extra exciting. Shark Dog spied another shark dog and was super happy—until he saw that it was just a rubber floaty.

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, courtesy of gedadamson.com.

“For the first time, my Shark Dog was sad,” and he stayed sad. When he saw a travel poster of a far-flung ocean paradise, he even shed a tear. Dad thought we should take him home. This time we traveled by plane, and it was like the other shark dogs knew he was coming because as soon as we landed he “got the most wonderful welcome.” We spent a fantastic day with Shark Dog and his friends. The next morning, I gave Shark Dog a hug goodbye, and Dad and I started home.

But before we got too far, we saw Shark Dog following our raft. Then when we transferred aboard ship, so did Shark Dog—with one flying leap. It seemed that Shark Dog made a choice. “And that was just fine with me.”

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, courtesy of gedadamson.com.

Ged Adamson’s unique and funny story will delight pet owners, pet dreamers, and dog and shark aficionados alike. The little shark-dog hybrid, with his long snout, sturdy body, and sweet expression, is everything a friend should be as he plays along no matter what the escapade. Infused with lots of heart, Adamson’s story is also a reassuring choice for kids facing a move, a new school, or other new experiences. Just like Shark Dog, young readers will see that old friends remain true, new friends can be pretty great too, and exploring outside one’s comfort zone can open up a whole world of adventure.

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2017, courtesy of gedadamson.com.

Adamson’s artwork is loaded with personality, humor, and emotion highlighted with the vibrant palette and chalked-in details that make his illustrations so distinctive. Those familiar with Adamson’s picture books may notice winks to his other characters among the pages. Kids will love Dad, all decked out in retro gear and sporting wavy, red hair and a handlebar mustache. Both boys and girls will identify with the child narrator, who is dressed in gender-neutral clothing and tells the story from the first-person point of view without gender-specific pronouns.

Shark Dog! is a jaunty exploration of friendship that kids will love to take again and again. The book would make a fun addition to any home library.

Discover more about Ged Adamson, his books, and his artwork on his website!

This beachy Shark Dog! book trailer is fin-tastic! Take a look!

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2017 | ISBN 978-0062457134

National Mutt Day Activity

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Adopt a New Friend Maze

 

This detective and her mutt are looking for another puppy to join the team! Can you help them find their way to a new friend in this Adopt a New Friend Maze

Picture Book Review

May 8 – No Socks Day

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About the Holiday

With spring and summer’s warm weather comes a sense of freedom, and there’s no better feeling that kicking off your shoes, pulling off your socks and walking barefoot on soft grass or squishy sand. Besides the relaxation that today’s holiday affords, it also helps the environment. Fewer dirty socks means less laundry—which saves water and electricity and is another kind of freedom all on its own! So go footloose and fancy free and read today’s sweet book!

Beach Socks

Written by Michael J. Daley | Illustrated by Estelle Corke

 

An adorable little boy is visiting the beach with his mom. He’s plunked down in the sand, has removed his shoes and is peeling off his stretchy socks. He happily greets his ten little toes and excitedly tells them, “let’s go!” Holding onto his mommy’s fingers, he toddles over the “dry sand, hot sand” and thinks, “Go fast toes!”

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Image copyright Estelle Corke, text copyright Micheal J. Daley. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Ahhh! The wet sand is cool and offers some relief. Here, near the water’s edge, the little boy can slow down and enjoy his walk. Soon he finds a spot to dig with his shovel and pail. A friendly seagull perches nearby, attracted to the mussel shells and the child’s bright yellow sun hat. The little one welcomes him with a cheery, “Hello, Seagull! Nice toes.”

In a bit, the boy and his mommy explore the beach. They wind around rocks where “stringy seaweed tangles toes” and carefully tiptoe past a scuttling crab and through a patch of scattered seashells to meet a wave crashing onto shore. As the wave recedes it leaves “foam and bubbles” and runny sand that tickles toes.

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Image copyright Estelle Corke, text copyright Micheal J. Daley. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Waves come in and go out, and “toes sink deeper” until sandy socks cover little toes and feet and legs. Suddenly, a big wave splashes to shore, washing the beach socks away. As the day wanes, the little boy rides on Mommy’s shoulders. They watch the golden sun dip into the watery horizon while the boy waves goodbye to the ocean and to the sand, and—with “socks on. Shoes on”—to his toes as well.

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Image copyright Estelle Corke, text copyright Micheal J. Daley. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Michael J. Daley’s endearing day at the beach with a toddler who is discovering the joys of walking barefoot in the sand, meeting friendly sea creatures, and playing in the waves is a perfect summertime read for little ones. Daley’s minimal text engages young readers and will make them giggle as the sweet baby carefully watches his toes during his day-long romp.

With charming details, such as swirled seashells, crinkled seaweed, frothy waves, and curious creatures, Estelle Corke’s illustrations are so wonderfully evocative of a sunny, golden seashore that readers will almost be able to smell the salty air and feel the soft sand beneath their own toes. Images of the adorable toddler also mirror the excitement and determination of little ones out for a fun day. Readers will love pictures of the child navigating the beach with just the support of his mother’s fingertips, warning off the inquisitive crab, wiggling his toes in the wave’s shower, and clinging to his mom’s windblown hair as he gets a piggyback ride up the beach.

A perfect take along on any beach trip as well as a lovely mini-vacation for the smallest armchair travelers, Beach Socks would make an often-asked-for addition to any home library.

Ages Birth – 4

Star Bright Books, 2013 | ISBN 978-1595726377

Discover more about Estelle Corke and her books and view a portfolio of her work on her website!

No Socks Day Activity

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Personalized Painted Pail

 

A trip to the beach or park isn’t complete without a pail to collect shells, seaweed, sea glass, pebbles, sticks, nuts, or other things in. But why should all the cool stuff be on the inside? With this craft you can decorate your pail to show your unique personality!

Supplies

  • Plastic or metal pail
  • Craft paint in various colors
  • Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating, for multi-surface use
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint designs on the pail
  2. When paint is dry spray with acrylic coating to set paint
  3. Let dry

Picture Book Review

March 13 – National Napping Day

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About the Holiday

If there’s one day a year when you should be easy on yourself and take a nap when the feeling strikes, today is it! Held annually on the Monday after the spring time change, National Napping Day allows us to recapture that lost hour of sleep and reset our body clocks. So if you start feeling that can’t-keep-my-eyes-open  weariness, go ahead and kick off your shoes, get comfy, and….

Twenty Yawns

Written by Jane Smiley | Illustrated by Lauren Castillo

 

A little girl and her mom and dad are out for a day at the beach. Along the curving coastline they found the perfect spot to plant their umbrella and unfold their chairs. While Lucy dug a hole near the foaming waves, her mom and dad read in the shade of the umbrella. When the hole was big enough to hold her dad, Lucy “covered him up and they laughed and laughed.” Later, Lucy’s dad took her hand and swung “her into the sky” just as a wave crashed onto the shore.

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Image copyright Lauren Castillo, text copyright Jane Smiley. Courtesy of laurencastillo.com

In the afternoon Lucy, Mom, and Dad walked “all the way to the end of the beach,” stopping here and there to chase seagulls, fly a kite, and play. Coming back, Lucy rolled “down the soft warm dunes,” never wanting the day to end. Returning to their umbrella, the three built a sandcastle and headed for home only when the sun began to set. “Lucy yawned. Mom yawned. Dad yawned.” Everyone was ready to go to bed early.

When they reached home, “Lucy put on her pajamas inside out, climbed into bed, and yawned a big YAWN.” Lucy’s mom began to read her a story about a little boy named Fred. Lucy yawned and began to doze, but soon she no longer heard her mom’s voice. She peeked at her mom. “She was asleep!” Lucy stared out into her room. “The moon shone through the window, a silver veil that fell across the floor. Everything looked mysterious, even Lucy’s own hands on the bedspread.”

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Image copyright Lauren Castillo, text copyright Jane Smiley. Courtesy of laurencastillo.com

Suddenly, all the people in her pictures—Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Elizabeth, Mom, Dad, and even Fred in the book on the floor—seemed to be looking at her. Lucy wanted her teddy bear, Molasses. She crept out of her room, past her dad sleeping in a living room chair, and over to the bookcase, where Molasses hid under a pile of toys. As Lucy pulled at Molasses, Hornet the giraffe, Juno the horse, Mathilda the alligator, Frank the kangaroo, and his baby, Leonard all tumbled to the floor.

As Lucy started back to her room, she saw her toys watching her. They looked so lonely. One by one she carried them to her bed and “dropped them in a patch of moonlight.” She tucked them in and gave each a kiss. She thought they all “looked sleepy and happy.” Lucy cuddled up next to her toys and yawned. They in turn yawned too. So did Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Elizabeth, Mom, Dad, and even Fred. Lucy hugged Molasses tight, “gave one last YAWN…and fell asleep.”

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Image copyright Lauren Castillo, text copyright Jane Smiley. Courtesy of laurencastillo.com

Jane Smiley’s Twenty Yawns perfectly captures the deep-down happy tiredness after a day in the sun. While Mom and Dad surrender to sleep, Lucy’s awareness is heightened in the strangely quiet house and can only be alleviated by sharing her bedtime routine with her stuffed animal friends. Beautiful lyrical passages paint word pictures of the tropical setting and Lucy’s imagination, while Lucy’s tender care for her toys replicates the love her parents show her.

Lauren Castillo’s blue sea and golden beach glows with the warmth of the sun and a family’s togetherness. Lucy and her dad play in the surf, Lucy’s parents walk hand-in-hand as Lucy runs after seagulls on their walk, and they all help build a sandcastle. Back home in their cozy house, Lucy and her mom gaze out a window as their house is cast in shadow by the setting sun. Tall palm trees wave against a blue, purple, pink, peach, and yellow sky. Little Lucy is adorable as she plays in the dunes, creeps through her sleeping house, and kisses her toys goodnight. Young readers will contentedly join Lucy and her family in their fun day as well as their yawny snoozing. 

Little ones who wonder if there are indeed 20 yawns in the book will be rewarded by counting each sigh.

Twenty Yawns is a sweet, quiet book for naptimes, bedtimes, indoor days, and any time when a little relaxation is just what’s needed.

Ages 2 – 7

Two Lions, 2016 | ISBN 978-1477826355

You can connect with Jane Smiley on Facebook.

Learn more about Lauren Castillo, her books, and her art on her website.

Napping Day Activity

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Sleepy Buddy Craft

 

It’s easy to make a one-of-a-kind sleepy buddy for naptime or any time. With just a few materials and your own creativity, you’ll soon have a new friend to snuggle with!

Supplies

  • 1 8-inch by 11-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the body (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project). A larger piece of fleece can be used to make a larger buddy
  • 1 5-inch by 8-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the hair (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project)
  • 1 small piece of fleece or other material for a pocket, clothes, or blanket
  • Small scraps of fleece or other material for the face
  • Fiber Fill
  • Thread and sewing needle OR fabric glue
  • Scissors

Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Fold the large piece of fleece in half lengthwise and sew along the open side and along the bottom. Alternatively, if using a larger size piece of fleece, fold upward and sew or glue the two sides closed.
  2. Turn the form inside out

To Make the Hair

  1. Cut a piece of fleece as wide as your buddy and about 7 – 8 inches long
  2. Fold the fleece lengthwise
  3. Insert both ends of the fleece into the opening at the top of the body
  4. Sew or glue the opening shut, securing the hair
  5. Cut strips about ¼-inch wide from the top of the hair to close to where the hair is sown into the body

To Make a Pocket or Clothes

  1. Cut a piece of fleece in the shape of a pocket, shirt, pants, diaper, or blanket
  2. Sew or glue the pocket or clothes to the buddy

To Make the Face

  1. Cut eyes, a nose, and a mouth in whatever way you would like your buddy to look. (My buddy is sleeping.)
  2. Sew or glue the face to the buddy
  3. Snuggle up!

Picture Book Review

 

November 17 – Take a Hike Day

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About the Holiday

The American Hiking Society established today’s holiday to encourage families, friends, groups, and individuals to get outside and experience the fun and relaxation of discovering new paths and new places. Even if you’re only able to take a short walk during lunchtime or after work, getting out in nature gives you new perspectives and clears the mind—it’s great exercise too! So gather some friends or your family and head out the door for a short (or a long) hike today!

Harriet Can Carry It

Written by Kirk Jay Mueller | Illustrated by Sarah Vonthron-Laver

 

Harriet Huff is a kangaroo who every day carries the mail in her pouch, delivering it all over town. Her job has left her “feeling quite frail,” She decides to take a day off and hike to the beach with her Joey where they can “relax and be free.” The next morning they wake up and prepare for a fun day. Harriet gathers their beach towels, Joey, and his favorite toy and tucks them gently into her pouch. She gets no further than the bottom of her porch, however, before she hears “someone yell, ‘HEY!’”

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Image copyright Sarah Vonthron-Laver, text copyright Kirk Jay Mueller. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

“It was old Wanda Wombat, so nosey and grouchy, / Asking, ‘That a beach towel hanging out of your pouchy? / Can I come to the beach? Can I come with YOU? / Will you carry my beach chair? Can I please come too?’” Harriet stammers, “W-e-l-l…” as she considers her plans to relax, but before she can properly answer, Wanda invites herself along, telling Harriet that she has room in her pouch “for tons of stuff.” “‘YOU CAN CARRY IT, HARRIET, so I can come too.’”

They walk up a hill together, Harriet sweating a bit with the effort of carrying the beach chair that has replaced Joey in her pouch. Suddenly, they hear someone shout, “‘STOP!’” It’s Wallaby Wendy who is also on her way to the beach. She asks Harriet if she will carry her swim fins.  Harriet hesitates. “‘W-e-l-l, I’m not sure…’” she says. But Wanda is there with the answer. “‘She has lots of room. She has loads of space / For tones of stuff in her big pouchy place. She is an incredibly kind kangaroo. HARRIET CAN CARRY IT, so you can come too.’”

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Image copyright Sarah Vonthron-Laver, text copyright Kirk Jay Mueller. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

They start up again all in a row and it isn’t too long before someone says “‘WHOA!’” It was Kenny Koala, who in his own surfer-dude way asks Harriet if she can carry his board so he can come with them too. Harriet takes a moment to think—but it’s a moment Wanda has no problem filling, and so Harriet acquires Kenny’s surfboard too. “AHOY!” beckons Marcie, a marsupial mouse, “Who’d made the mistake of leaving her house / With a huge heavy kayak strapped to her back. / Her long plastic paddle poked out of its sack.” Wanda assures her, too, that Harriet can carry it, and with the kayak stowed in front, the group takes off again.

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Image copyright Sarah Vonthron-Laver, text copyright Kirk Jay Mueller. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Next they happen upon the Dingo twins who need help with their flying ring—an easy addition to Harriet’s pouch according to Wanda. A little farther down the path they encounter Bill Bandicoot who can no longer hold his beach umbrella. Wanda takes a look at Harriet and for the first time sees that she looks tired and that her pouch is nearly bursting. This time Wanda asks, “‘WILL YOU CARRY IT, HARRIET, so he can come too?”

The usual hesitant Harriet has had enough, and she answers “‘NO!’” In fact, she removes everyone’s equipment and tosses it on the sand. “‘I won’t carry your stuff,’” she says. “‘I just QUIT!’” Just then Paddy O’Possum comes along in his pickup truck and offers to take everyone and their gear to the beach. “Now Harriet felt cheerful, thankful, and calm, / And Joey was happy that she was his mom.” With her baby snuggled into her pouch, Harriet finds a perfect spot where they can unwind and “relax by the sea.”

Following the story are two pages of intriguing facts on the various Australian animals depicted in Harriet Can Carry It.

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Kirk Jay Mueller’s funny story of a too-nice kangaroo whose relaxing beach vacation is hijacked by a meddlesome neighbor will have kids laughing out loud as Harriet acquires more and bigger belongings on her hike to the shore. Mueller’s rhymed verses wonderfully escalate the plot just as Harriet’s pouch grows as the requests mushroom. As each beach-goer hails Harriet in a new way, kids will wonder what could possibly come next and will delight in the repeated phrases that invite participation on their part. The story can also lead to discussions on how to say “No” when needed and also how to resolve issues before they may cause hurt feelings.

Sarah Vonthron-Laver’s vibrant illustrations of Harriet’s neighborhood and the Australian landscape put the focus on kind-hearted Harriet and the animals she meets and enhances the story’s humor. Wanda the Wombat in her star-shaped sunglasses and flowery flip-flops marches ahead, pointing the way, oblivious to Harriet’s woes. The other animals—accurate cartoon representations of their real counterparts—are equally unaware as they hand Harriet their gear. Harriet’s pouch bulges with the beach items as Harriet finds clever ways to accommodate it all.

Harriet Can Carry It makes for a fun story time read and a perfect take-along book for beach outings or any hike.

Ages 4 – 7

Star Bright Books, 2014 | ISBN 978-1595726766

To learn more about Kirk Jay Mueller, his books, and his music—plus to listen to a song about Harriet—visit his website!

You can connect with Sarah Vonthron-Laver on Facebook!

Take a Hike Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-book-bag-craft

You Can Carry It! Book Bag

 

True booklovers can’t go anywhere without a book (or two or three) to read along the way. With this easy craft you can turn a cloth bag into a kid-size book bag!

Supplies

  • Printable Templates: Books to Read Template | Books to Love Template
  • Small cloth bag, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the bag that sheet sets now come in
  • Cloth trim or strong ribbon, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the cloth handles from shopping bags provided from some clothing stores
  • Scraps of different colored and patterned cloth. Or use quilting squares, available at craft and sewing stores
  • Pen or pencil for tracing letters onto cloth
  • Scissors
  • Small sharp scissors (or cuticle scissors) for cutting out the center of the letters
  • Fabric glue
  • Thread (optional)
  • Needle (optional)

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Directions

  1. Print the sayings and cut out the letters
  2. Trace letters onto different kinds of cloth
  3. Cut out cloth letters
  4. Iron cloth bag if necessary
  5. Attach words “Books to Read” to one side of bag with fabric glue
  6. Attach words “Books to Love” to other side of bag with fabric glue
  7. Cut cloth trim or ribbon to desired length to create handles
  8. Glue (or sew) handles onto the inside edge of bag

Picture Book Review

October 18 – It’s Squirrel Awareness Month

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About the Holiday

Squirrels elicit emotions on both sides of the spectrum. On one hand you can’t help but say “Awww!” when you see their tiny little paws and crafty antics. On the other hand their voracious appetites at bird feeders and penchant for darting into traffic is more likely to make you say “Arrgghhh!” This month is set aside, however, for enjoying the squirrels in your yard, park, or city. And really, don’t they make life just a little more fun?

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South

Written by Adam Rubin | Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

 

Everyone knows Mr. Fookwire is a grump whose grumpiness knows no bounds. “He scolded fireflies for being too bright…yelled at clouds for being too fluffy…and pinched his nose with a clothespin” so he doesn’t have to smell the lilacs. Despite these annoyances, though, he had a wonderful summer painting pictures of the birds in his yard even though “those darn squirrels” had set up an easel of their own nearby.

But now fall was here and that meant that all of Mr. Fookwire’s beloved birds would soon be flying south leaving him with only the squirrels for company. While the squirrels usually spent the winter months “playing ping pong, building ships in bottles, and knitting, this winter they had decided to follow the birds to warmer climes. With their expert knowledge in aerodynamic engineering, the squirrels had “built gyro-copters from pinecones…gliders from leaves…and even a zeppelin from an old shopping bag.”

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Image copyright Daniel Salmieri, text copyright Adam Rubin. Courtesy of hmhbookscom

When the day came for the birds to take wing, Mr. Fookwire sadly waved goodbye. Just as he was about to return to the house, he heard a strange rustling, then a whir, and finally a buzz. It was the squirrels soaring away in their homemade aircraft. “‘Great googley-moogley’” Mr. Fookwire exclaimed.

The squirrels followed the birds for days until they landed on a beach. To celebrate the end of their journey and the welcome warmth, the squirrels held a fiesta, complete with mangoes, the marimba, and the merengue. Winter was wonderful here where there were new foods to eat and new birds to discover. One with a long neck, rings around its eyes, and red and blue feathers even looked a little familiar and left the squirrels feeling homesick. They decided to make a long-distance phone call, and chattered away to Mr. Fookwire.

Although he wouldn’t admit it, Mr. Fookwire was happy to receive the call. He decided to pack up his easels, paints, brushes, and cottage cheese with pepper and hit the road in his beautiful vintage car. Driving 12 miles an hour, Mr. Fookwire at last reached the beach, where the squirrels swarmed him in a big hug. “Maybe it was the nice weather. Maybe it was the beautiful scenery, Maybe it was the squirrels dancing in his pants. But for the first time in a very long time, the old man laughed.”

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Image copyright Daniel Salmieri, text copyright Adam Rubin. Courtesy of hmhbookscom

Mr. Fookwire was delighted with the local birds and immediately began to paint them. “‘The birds here are even more amazing than the birds back home!’ he exclaimed. ‘Harrumph!’ muttered the floogle bird.” The hot sun took its toll on Mr. Fookwire, however, and he collapsed right into the middle of his painting. The squirrels dragged him into the shade and revived him. Maybe spending the winter at home was better. Mr. Fookwire decided to head back, and the squirrels accompanied him. They didn’t want to miss “the annual snow-fort building competition.”

They all jumped into the car and sped off. Really! After all, Mr. Fookwire was in no condition to drive.

Adam Rubin’s Those Darn Squirrels Fly South contains all the charm and squirrely shenanigans that make the other two books in the series such a hit with kids (and adults). Rubin’s snappy descriptions, silly scenarios, and loveably cantankerous protagonist make for a hilarious story time read that will delight his fans and captivate new readers.

Daniel Salmieri knows how to make kids giggle and laugh out loud with colorful illustrations that perfectly depict Mr. Fookwire’s world—both at home and away. Mr. Fookwire’s noodly arms, giraffe-long neck, and carrot-shaped nose coalesce into a character that is at once funny and endearing. Getting more beak time in this third outing, the familiar birds are joined by a crew of even more brilliant and exotic beach mates. The squirrels are up to their usual contraption-making tricks as they build flying machines from soda bottles, flashlights, baseball caps, and more around-the-house items. The squirrels know how to live wherever they are, and Salmieri’s depictions of them holding a fiesta, hugging Mr. Fookwire, and roaring down the highway is absurdity for the younger set at its best.

Ages 4 – 7

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012 | ISBN 978-0544555457

You can find out more about Adam Rubin, his books, and his dry sense of humor on his website!

View a gallery of illustration work and more books by Daniel Salmieri on his website!

Go nuts watching this Those Darn Squirrels Fly South book trailer!

Squirrel Awareness Month Activity

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Celebrate Squirrels! Dot-to-Dot

 

Enjoy following the dots to finish this printable Celebrate Squirrels! activity sheet and then color it in!

Picture Book Review

June 27 – National Sunglasses Day

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About the Holiday

Tinted glasses have been around since judges in ancient China used them to disguise their emotions. Modern sunglasses were first sold in 1929 by Sam Foster on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and Bausch and Lomb was commissioned in the 1930s by the Army Air Corps to create glasses to ease the high-altitude glare pilots faced. In 1936 Polaroid filters were first used to protect eyes from  damaging UV rays in Ray Ban sunglasses.Since the 1970s movies have helped escalate the popularity of many styles of sunglasses as fans strive to look like their favorite actors and actresses. Today, grab your sunglasses or shop for new ones because—you know why…sing it with me… “The future’s so bright, I gotta have shades!”

Chu’s Day at the Beach

Written by Neil Gaiman | Illustrated by Adam Rex

 

As readers of this series know, “when Chu sneezed, big things happened.” With this tantalizing and slightly-ominous-in-a-way-kids-love statement, Chu’s latest adventure begins. Turning the page kids discover that Chu and his family have headed out to the beach. Chu is having a great time: the octopus selling ice-cream gives him an extra scoop of vanilla, and Chu meets a crab in a rock pool; even Chu’s mom is enjoying a book under the umbrella and his dad is wading in the ocean.

Chu takes his sunglasses off to better enjoy the bright, sunny day, but suddenly Chu’s nose tickles. The tickle grows until it fills his whole head and he can’t hold it in anymore—“AAH- AAAAH- AAAAAH- CHOoOoOoOO!” Chu looks out to sea. “‘Uh-oh,’” he says. Everyone on the beach comes down to the water’s edge to look at the huge suspended wave Chu has sneezed up.

Like standing in front of an aquarium exhibit, the beachgoers find themselves eye-to-eye with sea creatures who are suddenly encased in the wall of water. The fish, turtles, whales, and merpandas are sad—“‘With the sea broken, I cannot go home,’” one whale explains. The ice-cream vender tells Chu to sneeze again and put the sea “‘back the way it was.’” But try as he might, Chu can’t sneeze. A seagull tickles Chu’s nose with a wing feather and the octopus offers Chu a fizzy drink with bubbles that go up his nose, but nothing elicits a sneeze.

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Interior illustration by Adam Rex, courtesy of Neil Gaiman’s Journal Archives, April 2015 (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/)

All seems lost until Tiny the snail reveals that sometimes he sneezes when he looks at the sun. Chu removes his sunglasses and gazes into the light. “AAAAACHOOOOO!” “‘There, said Chu. Everything is back just as it was before.’” The sea creatures are happy that they get to return to their homes, the ice-cream seller is so pleased that she scoops up another cone for Chu, and Chu? He declares that it was the best day at the beach ever.

With his singular style Neil Gaiman conjures up a story for kids that combines just the right amount of sweetness and absurdity to keep the giggles going from the first page to the last. We all experience those uncontrollable mishaps and “oh no!” moments where a little help and empathy is appreciated. And what child wouldn’t love to stop the ocean, even if only for a moment? Gaiman’s repeated sneezes will have kids “Aah-chooing” along, and an animated reading of the chorus “AAH. AAAAH. AAAAAH. NO.” is sure to bring laughs and requests for “Again! Again!”

If only the beach was as full of interesting creatures as Adam Rex portrays in his vivacious illustrations! Crossing the dunes Chu and his family encounter an intriguing array of animals stretched out on towels—from a tiny cricket to a pangolin to a hunky frog with his clever insect-snack-strip-adorned umbrella and more. Ice-cream vendors no doubt wish they had the eight arms of Rex’s frozen-treat seller, and there’s even an ostrich with his head in the sand. Chu’s tidal wave teems with surprised sea creatures, some stuck mid-way between their ocean world and the dry outside. Chu remains as cute as ever, inviting kids to join him on his latest adventure.

Chu’s well-loved character and repeat readability make Chu’s Day at the Beach a sunny addition to young children’s bookshelves.

Ages Birth – 7

HarperCollins, 2015 | ISBN 978-0062223999 ♦ HarperFestival Boardbook, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062381248

National Sunglasses Day Activity

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Perfect Sunglasses Matching Puzzle

 

The summer sun is so bright that these friends need sunglasses before they go out to play! Can you follow the paths to match each child with the perfect pair? Get the printable Perfect Sunglasses Matching Puzzle and have fun!

June 17 – Flip-Flop Day

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About the Holiday

Nothing says “casual” like a pair of flip-flops! These open-toe, open-back, open-side (you can hardly call them shoes!) shoes have been trending since 4000 BC with no limits in sight! Flip-Flop Day was initiated by Tropical Smoothie Café. Customers wearing flip-flops receive a free smoothie and the Café also uses the day to raise money for Camp Sunshine, which offers respite and support to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Today if the weather’s warm slip on a pair of flip-flops and head out for a casual day at the beach or on the town!

At the Beach

Written by Anne Rockwell | Illustrated by Harlow Rockwell

 

A little girl with a yellow pail and red swimsuit and her mom who’s carrying a tote and umbrella head out for a day at the beach. They find a spot to lay their striped and polka-dot towels and plant their blue-striped umbrella. Waiting in the tote is their lunch—two foil-wrapped sandwiches, two peaches, and a thermos of lemonade.

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After the little girl is covered in nice-smelling sunscreen, she follows a line of sandpipers, adding her footprints to theirs in the wet sand. For her bucket she finds different types of seaweed and a variety of shells. She joins a group of kids playing among the dunes. “I build a castle with my shovel and pail. The boy next to me digs a channel where his boat can float,” the little girl says. The girl ventures out into the shallow water where “a little crab tweaks my toe” and “little silver fishes swim past me.”

The girl likes to “walk past the lifeguard station to the big brown rocks” to look for barnacles, snails, and muscles. She and her mom then swim in the waves near a drifting seagull. Back on land, the girl lies on her towel and lets the sunshine dry her off “until it is time for lunch.”

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Like the best laid-back days, Anne Rockwell’s classic At the Beach takes a tranquil, unhurried look at a mother-and-child seaside outing. For young children the straightforward, but lyrical text will evoke happy memories of their own beach experiences; for children who don’t live by the ocean the story will pique their interest in the shoreline environment.  This book, anchored in universal details yet inviting imagination, will soon become a favorite.

Harlow Rockwell’s sweet drawings of the little girl enjoying all a busy beach has to offer will captive young children. Scenes of a diverse group of children playing in the sand, a stalwart sea gull afloat on the current, a parade of scurrying sandpipers, and even the up- close look at scavenger hunt finds and the always welcome lunch engage all of a child’s senses. The clean lines and soft colors of the sand, sea, and sky contribute to a book as lovely as a sun-drenched beach.

Beach Day Scavenger Hunt Idea: At the Beach would be a wonderful take-along on any beach outing. Take a stroll along the shore and see if you and your child can find the shells, seaweed, sea creatures, and other seaside sights in the book.

Ages Birth – 8

Aladdin reissue edition, Simon & Schuster, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481411349

Flip-Flop Day Activity

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Flip-Flop Plant Holder

 

Flip-flops don’t only have to be for your feet! With this easy craft you can make a sandal-ightful way to hang succulents and other light plants on walls or even windows!

Supplies

  • Child’s flip-flops with elastic heel straps
  • Buttons or charms
  • Small plastic, terra cotta, or ceramic solid-bottom pot
  • Small plant
  • Dirt
  • Hot glue gun
  • Heavy duty mounting strips
  • Small shovel or spoon

Directions

  1. Place the flip-flop toe down on your work surface. With the hot glue gun, attach the buttons to the plastic toe straps of the flip-flops.
  2. Add dirt to the pot
  3. Add plant to the pot
  4. Slip the pot into the elastic strap and gently push down so it is also supported by the plastic toe straps
  5. To hang, use appropriate weight mountable strips.
  6. To make an interesting and attractive arrangement, use various sizes of flip-flops