May 29 – It’s National Inventor’s Month

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About the Holiday

Established in 1998 by the United Inventors Association of the USA, the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors’ Digest magazine, this month-long holiday celebrates the imagination and talent of individuals who dare to think differently and create new products, services, and ways of doing things that make a positive contribution to the world. To join in, enjoy your favorite new inventions, and if you harbor dreams of being an inventor—on a large or small scale—look for opportunities to share your ideas.

Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines

Written by Sarah Aronson | Illustrated by Robert Neubecker

 

Famous inventors usually get that way by creating something new—something that people can’t live without, right? Well, it kind of was and wasn’t this way for Rube Goldberg—as you’ll see. Even as a very young boy, Rube Goldberg loved to draw. As a four-year-old he traced the cartoons in the newspaper and when he got older, he took art lessons. His dream was to be a cartoonist for a major newspaper.

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Image copyright Robert Neubecker, 2019, text Sarah Aronson, 2019. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

Rube’s family was not so supportive, though. His father—who had moved to America from Germany so that his family could have a better life—believed his son would end up as a beggar if he pursued his art. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer for the Department of Water and Sewers in San Francisco—for six months. He gave up his good-paying job for a job as an errand boy at the San Francisco Chronicle at eight dollars a week. In between cleaning, emptying trash cans, and filing photographs, “Rube drew. And drew. And drew.”

Rube submitted his cartoons to the editor and most of the time they were rejected. When the editor “said yes, Rube sometimes got paid, but other times he just got out of the office tasks he didn’t like to do.” A year went by, and finally Rube was hired by the San Francisco Bulletin sports department, where he drew cartoons and wrote a column too. Then in 1906, the great earthquake hit San Francisco. Homes were lost, as were jobs. In the broken city, people couldn’t focus on their future or even feel hopeful. Rube “did the only thing he could do: He drew comics to cheer people up.”

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Image copyright Robert Neubecker, 2019, text Sarah Aronson, 2019. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

Rube also decided to move to New York—the place he considered the “‘front row,’ the cartoon capital of the country.” For twelve days he showed his art to newspaper after newspaper and was finally hired by the New York Evening Mail as a cartoonist. “Right off the bat, Rube became a celebrity. People couldn’t wait to see what he had to say about all kinds of things.” He drew comics about sports, politics, and “the silliness of everyday life,” but the comics people loved the best were drawn by his alter ego, Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts. The professor was known for his intricately complex inventions that made even the simplest action a “surreal and ridiculous” multi-step wonder that often defied physics.

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Image copyright Robert Neubecker, 2019, text Sarah Aronson, 2019. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

He invented a machine that employed a carrot-eating goat, a ghost, an egg-laying chicken, an archer, a target with a mechanical hand, an upright-shooting canon, and dough that cooked in the smoke of the cannon as a cannonball shot through the middle of it. Turning off the light, might just require the pull of a cord, but in Professor Butts’ world, it also required a banana-laden fishing pole, a monkey bouncing on a balloon, a fan that turned a bicycle wheel, a jack-in-the-box, a bucket, a bowling ball, and seesaw. Perhaps one of the silliest was a contraption for cutting your own hair.

Of course, these gizmos weren’t designed to really work—only to make people “look closer. And question logic. And tickle the imagination.” At a time when new discoveries were being made all around, Rube Goldberg’s cartoons “challenged people to use the most amazing machine in the universe: the brain!” Do you have aspirations, thoughts, and dreams that seem out of the mainstream and wonder if this same kind of success is still possible? The answer is: “You bet it is.” So “figure out what you want” then work hard and “have a great time getting there…. Just like Rube Goldberg!”

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Image copyright Robert Neubecker, 2019, text Sarah Aronson, 2019. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

The book’s endpapers depict eight of Rube Goldberg’s original invention cartoons, and an Author’s Note following the text reveals more about Goldberg’s amazing life as a cartoonist, artist, and political observer. The awards he won and the children’s game inspired by his contraptions are also mentioned.

For Rube Goldberg fans, young inventors and artists, and anyone with a dream, Sarah Aronson’s story of this beloved cartoonist’s life is a fast-paced trip into the past and the fine tradition of lampoonery. Goldberg’s one-of-a-kind imagination and unstoppable confidence in his dream are on full display as he quits a lucrative job for the uncertainty of an artist’s life. His success and long career is a tribute not only to Goldberg himself, but to all the employers and consumers who recognize innovation and embrace it.

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Image copyright Robert Neubecker, 2019, text Sarah Aronson, 2019. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

Robert Neubecker’s stylized and entertaining illustrations take inspiration from and honor Rube Goldberg while also transporting readers to the early 1900s. Kids will particularly enjoy the clever design that takes text through underground maze of the San Francisco Department of Water and Sewers and the busy newsroom—complete with carrier pigeon—where Goldberg found a home as a cartoonist. In two-page spreads, three of Goldberg’s cartoons are rendered in color, giving readers plenty to linger over and giggle at, and the final images are sure to spark a new appreciation for the imagination and its power.

Sure to create new fans of Rube Goldberg’s work, Just Like Rube Goldberg would be an exciting addition to home, school, and public libraries for all of those unique thinkers out there.

Ages 3 – 8

Beach Lane Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1481476683

Discover more about Sarah Aronson and her books on her website.

To learn more about Robert Neubecker, his books, and his art on his website.

National Inventor’s Month Activity

CPB - Inventor's Tool Kit II (2)

Inventor’s Tool Kit

 

Every idea begins as a jumble of seemingly unrelated parts. Gathering whatever types of material inspires you and keeping it in a box ready to go when inspiration hits is a great way to support innovation and spark experimentation.

Supplies

  • Small parts organizer with drawers or compartments, available at hardware stores and craft stores
  • A variety of parts or craft materials that can be combined, built with, or built on
  • Some hardware ideas—pulleys, wheels, small to medium pieces of wood, wire, nuts, bolts, screws, hooks, knobs, hinges, recyclable materials
  • Some craft ideas—clay, beads, wooden pieces, sticks, paints, pipe cleaners, string, spools, buttons, glitter, scraps of material, recyclable materials

Directions

  1. Fill the organizer with the materials of your choice
  2. Let your imagination go to work! Build something cool, crazy, silly, useful—Amazing!

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You can find Just Like Rube Goldberg at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 13 – It’s Back to School Month

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About the Holiday

For many children across the country August is the month for going back to school—or just starting on that journey. Some children eagerly look forward to spending the day in a classroom with other kids and learning new things from their teacher or teachers. For others the transition from home to school is a little more daunting. Finding ways to reassure hesitant students can go a long way toward happiness and success in school. Books can help! Through the experiences and feeling of all types of children and characters in picture books, chapter books, and middle grade and young adult novels, kids can share their feelings, whether they are excited or more uncertain about the school year ahead.

I received a copy of It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! from Beach Lane Books to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m happy to be partnering with Jody Jensen Shaffer on a giveaway of the book. See details below.

It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!

Written by Jody Jensen Shaffer | Illustrated by Claire Messer

 

It’s morning on the first day of the school year, and Ben the bus driver greets his fleet of buses. He welcomes Busy Bus to the crew that includes Bossy Bus, Zippy Bus, Bouncy Bus, and Big Bus. Already, “Busy Bus is wide awake. He can’t wait to meet the children! He hopes they will like him.” Ben has a checklist to make sure Busy Bus is ready for his route.

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Image copyright Claire Messer, 2018, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer, 2018. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books; Simon & Schuster.

First, he checks Busy Bus’s tires and makes sure his gas tank is full. Then he “swivels Busy Bus’s mirrors. ‘Now we can see everything,’ he says.” Inside, Ben checks that Busy Bus’s stop sign and all his lights work. He ensures that all emergency equipment is stocked and functioning. As Ben continues to fill out his checklist, Busy Bus wonders, “Will the children have fun riding with me?”

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Image copyright Claire Messer, 2018, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer, 2018. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books; Simon & Schuster.

Now it’s time for Ben to check Busy Bus’s engine. He turns the key, and “Busy Bus purrrrs like a kitten.” He inspects all the gauges and tries all the knobs. The brakes work, the steering wheel turns, and Busy Bus’s windshield wipers swish, swish smoothly across the glass. “HONK!” Busy Bus says cheerfully.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-your-first-day-of-school-busy-bus-honk

Image copyright Claire Messer, 2018, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer, 2018. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books; Simon & Schuster.

With a quick shining of the windshield, Ben announces that Busy Bus is all ready to meet the children. Suddenly, Busy Bus feels a little nervous. He worries about being homesick and making friends. Then Ben attaches Busy Bus’s very own name tag and drives to the first stop on their route, where a crowd of smiling children are waiting to climb aboard. As Busy Bus gives them a ride to school, he feels loved and knows that he’s “going to have a great year!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-your-first-day-of-school-busy-bus-kids

Image copyright Claire Messer, 2018, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer, 2018. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books; Simon & Schuster.

Young readers anticipating the beginning of a new school year will find a cheerful and empathetic friend in Busy Bus, who also happens to have first-day jitters. Children experiencing their first school-bus ride will find reassurance and familiarity in the details that Jody Jensen Shaffer provides as Ben the bus driver completes his inspection of Busy Bus. Busy Bus’s thoughts and feelings mirror those of students nervous about being away from home, the bus ride, making friends, and fitting in. Shaffer’s straightforward and honest storytelling encourages kids to discuss their own feelings and questions about school.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-your-first-day-of-school-busy-bus-fun

Image copyright Claire Messer, 2018, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer, 2018. Courtesy of Beach Lane Books; Simon & Schuster.

Claire Messer’s Busy Bus—smaller than the other buses in the barn—is endearing as he wakes up to the first day of school under a smiling sun with an excited HONK! Bold, colorful images of the bus barn with its gas pump, extra tires, and other equipment as well as Busy Bus’s dashboard, interior, and emergency gear will fascinate detail-oriented kids. As Busy Bus experiences last-minute apprehensions, his expression changes, giving children an opportunity to recognize and talk about feelings of sadness, worry, fear, and confidence.

It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! is a book to be shared by teachers, parents, and caregivers to make those first days of school smooth, happy, and exciting for all students.

Ages 3 – 8

Beach Lane Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481494670

Discover more about Jody Jensen Shaffer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Claire Messer, her books, and her art, visit her website.

It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! Giveaway

I’m excited to be partnering with Jody Jensen Shaffer to offer a giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! written by Jody Jensen Shaffer | illustrated by Claire Messer

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet one of my giveaway tweets during this week, August 13 – 19. 

A winner will be chosen on August 20.

Giveaways open to US addresses only

Back to School Month Activities

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school-bus-craft

Tea Box School Bus

 

With a small tea box, some paint, and the printable template, kids can have fun making a model school bus to play with or display. Make your bus as detailed or simple as you’d like!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print 2 copies of the School Bus Template
  2. Carefully take the tea box apart at the seams, invert it, and glue or tape it back together

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To Make the Passenger Side of the Bus

  1. Cut the Door from the template
  2. Glue the door to the box near the front
  3. Cut out and trim the row of windows from the template
  4. Glue the windows near the top of the box
  5. Cut out and trim two of the solid black lines from the template
  6. Glue the stripes onto the side of the box below the windows
  7. Cut out two tires from the template and glue them to the box

To Make the Front of the Bus

  1. Cut out two of the red and orange paired lights
  2. Glue one on each side of the box near the top with the red light on the outside
  3. Add a School Bus sign between the lights
  4. Cut out the windshield in the lower corner of the template and glue it in place
  5. Cut and trim grill and glue it beneath the windshield
  6. Cut and glue white circles for headlights on either side of the grill
  7. Cut, trim, and glue the wide black strip to the bottom as the bumper.

To Make the Driver’s Side of the Bus

  1. Cut and trim the row of windows from the template
  2. Glue the windows near the top of the box
  3. Cut out and trim two of the solid black lines from the template
  4. Glue the stripes onto the side of the box below the windows
  5. Cut out two tires from the template and glue them to the box
  6. Cut out and glue the Stop sign over the two stripes near the front of the bus

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school-bus-craft

To Make the Back of the Bus

  1. Cut out two of the red and orange paired lights
  2. Glue one on each side of the box near the top with the red light on the outside
  3. Add a School Bus sign between the lights
  4. Cut out the two small rounded corner windows
  5. Glue them underneath the lights close to the edge of the box
  6. Cut out and glue the bigger rounded corner window between the smaller windows
  7. Cut out and glue the yellow, red, and white lights underneath the small windows with the yellow light on the outside
  8. Cut out and glue the black rounded corner window centered beneath the lights
  9. Cut and trim the wide black stripe and glue it near the bottom of the box for the bumper

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School Bus Coloring Page

Kids will also have fun coloring in one of these printable School Bus Coloring Sheets!

School Bus Coloring Page for Older KidsEasy School Bus Coloring Page

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You can find It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

February 23 – National Tile Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established just last year and celebrates that architectural accent that has given exteriors and interiors pizazz and individuality since ancient times. Made in nearly every color, pattern, and shape imaginable, tiles were once all handmade and available only to the wealthy few. Innovations during the Industrial Revolution allowed tile to be mass produced and, thus, affordable to many. Tile has become a favorite decoration in homes across the world—as any HGTV viewer knows!

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid

By Jeanette Winter

 

Growing up in Iraq, Zaha Hadid sees the way rivers brake up the marshland, watches when the wind sculpts sand dunes, and visits the ruins of ancient cities. At home in Baghdad, young Zaha studies the patterns of her Persian carpet, noticing “how the shapes and colors flow into each other, like the dunes and rivers and marshes” and dreaming of designing her own cities.

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Copyright Jeanette Winter, 2017, courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

In her room, she arranges and rearranges the furniture, creates her own clothes, and comes up with ideas. When Zaha grows up, she moves to London to study to be an architect. After graduation, she opens an office in an old school building—Studio 9. Zaha is joined by some friends and they work tirelessly on their architectural drawings.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-world-is-not-a-rectangle-ruins

Copyright Jeanette Winter, 2017, courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

“Zaha’s designs don’t look like other designs. Her buildings swoosh and zoom and flow and fly. ‘The world is not a rectangle’” she says. But Zaha cannot find anyone to build her designs; everyone says they are impossible. Finally, one of Zaha’s designs is chosen from among all the others in a competition. When it is presented to the city’s committee, however, they reject it. Another competition is held, and Zaha’s design wins again. The city rejects it again. Zaha is as strong as her name Hadid, which means iron in Arabic, and she continues to design plan after plan.

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Copyright Jeanette Winter, 2017, courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

Then one by one her plans are accepted. She “remembers the grasses in the marshes swaying” and designs tall towers “dancing like grass.” In the desert, she creates a building that allows the wind to blow over and around and through it. The sports stadium she imagines has the beauty of a cocoon. Remembering the stones in a stream, Zaha “builds an opera house like the pebbles in the water. Inside the opera house, a singer is the pearl in the oyster shell.”

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Copyright Jeanette Winter, 2017, courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

The swirling stars in far-away galaxies inspire a complex of connected buildings, and the undulating waves become the model for a bridge that seems to move with the water. From looking at the Alps, Zaha fashions a museum built “inside a mountain peak with windows to see the sky and the valleys” and a ski jump that “reaches to the sky like the mountain.” From the “jungle and ancient wood temples,” Zaha draws inspiration for “a wooden building to remember a faraway war.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-world-is-not-a-rectangle-stadium

Copyright Jeanette Winter, 2017, courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

With every building, Zaha gets busier and busier more than four hundred architects are working in that old school building, “designing, planning, engineering, and making models of Zaha’s visions.” But Zaha’s ideas don’t stop at buildings. She believes “you should do what you like,” so she designs doll houses, shoes, chairs, sculpture, and benches. No matter what she designs, Zaha’s early memories return. She thinks of “the beauty of the landscape—where sand, water, reeds, birds, buildings, and people all somehow flow together” and never loses her belief in the impossible.

Even though the light in Zaha’s office is now dark, “her architects keep their lights on—designing, planning, engineering, and making models of her visions, keeping her flame blazing bright.”

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Copyright Jeanette Winter, 2017, courtesy of Beach Lane Books.

Following the text, readers can learn the name and location of each building, discover more information about Zaha Hadid’s life and awards, and read more of her own words about her work.

Jeanette Winter shines a light on an architect who will inspire children not only with her work but with her original ideas, self-confidence, and refusal to compromise on her beliefs. Winter combines straightforward passages of Zaha’s childhood and early professional struggles with lyrical phrasing that describes her influences in nature and her soaring buildings. Sprinkled throughout are Zaha’s own words that define her ideas and ideals.

In her dreamlike illustrations, Winter clearly depicts Zaha Hadid’s inspirations and the way in which she interpreted each natural motion, shape, or phenomenon in steel, glass, concrete, or wood. Winter’s pages swirl, shimmer, flow, and soar, and Zaha is always there, seeing, thinking, envisioning, and drawing.

An excellent biography of a strong and creative woman who has designed some of the world’s most beautiful and original buildings, The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid would be a superb addition to classroom discussions and home story times.

Ages 5 – 10

Beach Lane Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481446693

National Tile Day Activity

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I (Heart) Tiles! Coloring Page

 

With colorful tiles you can make beautiful pictures. Put your imagination to work and color this I (Heart) Tiles! Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

February 21 – It’s National Bird-Feeding Month

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About the Holiday

Spring comes early for our feathered friends. You may have noticed more bird activity in the past few weeks as birds get ready to build nests and mate. February can be a tough month for these little creatures, though. In some places snow still covers the ground, and the spring blooms that offer nutrition haven’t sprouted yet. To remedy this situation, in 1994 John Porter read a resolution into the United States’ Congressional record recognizing February as National Bird-Feeding Month. One-third of the American population have backyard feeders that provide the sustenance birds need to survive. To celebrate, if you have feeders make sure they are well stocked. If you don’t have a feeder in your yard, consider hanging one. Enjoying the beauty and songs of birds is a day brightener!

Warbler Wave

By April Pulley Sayre with Jeff Sayre

 

“In spring, as you nightly nap, / warblers flap / over oceans, lakes, / and mountains.” These tiny birds ride on streams of wind, navigating their way around buildings and towers and sharing space with bats, insects, and other birds. Then, nearly out of energy, they alight to rest and look for food.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-warbler-wave-wag-walk

Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

“They search. Stalk. / Wag. Walk. / So dainty, / these colorful diners.” They’re dots of color and intricate patterns among the leaves and “flit, like flying flowers.” They look and listen then dart to capture dinner. They are “crushers of caterpillars! / Slurpers of spiders!” Insects can hide from these clever hunters that know every nook and cranny to search.

And they’re not above nabbing a snack that a spider has so carefully wrapped. After a meal, “warblers sing. / Preen. / Scan the local scene.” But then as soon as nighttime falls, they’re off again, with miles to go until they reach their nesting grounds. Like good friends, they keep in touch with each other in the darkness as they fly “Surfing rivers of wind way up high…calling zeep, zeep, zeep in the sky.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-warbler-wave-colors-patterns

Copyright April Pulley, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Following the lyrical text, an extensive discussion of the “Migration Marathon” warblers take each spring reveals fascinating facts about the birds, their instinct to migrate, and why and how they migrate as well as the role of science in recording warbler migration. For instance, warblers weigh no more than a couple of baby carrots, yet they fly hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles from their winter homes in the southern hemisphere to their summer homes in the northern United States and Canada.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Blackpoll warblers even undergo physical changes in preparation for their 4,000-mile journey taken three days at a time nonstop. And how do these tiny creatures find their way? They’re born with an innate knowledge of the direction they need to fly, and they navigate by the stars, the setting sun, and the earth’s magnetic field (which they may be able to see!). There’s much more to discover here, too, about the lovely warblers that may be flying through your area soon.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-warbler-wave-looking-for-bugs

Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

April Pulley Sayre’s poetic narrative of the astounding migration warblers undertake every year is as bright and spry as her little subjects. Staccato sentences echo the birds’ quick, sure movements and alertness to the sounds and motions around them while longer passages flow with the rhythm of the birds in flight, soaring to the next stopping place and taking off again for home.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-warbler-wave-taking-off-again

Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Gorgeous photographs of a fiery horizon and rising moon that invite warblers to the air each night open the book and lead to lush, close-up views of a variety of warblers in their regal colors and patterns. Their sharp eyes, attentive expressions, and perky personalities are on full display in their native habitat. As dusk descends once more over sea and forest, the warblers take wing while birdwatchers wait to see them.

For children who are bird lovers and for families who have backyard feeders or enjoy taking bird-watching walks, as well as for classroom science and story times, Warbler Wave is a beautiful addition to home, classroom, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 8 and up

Beach Lane Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481448291

To learn more about April Pulley Sayre her books, and her work, visit her website.

National Bird-Feeding Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pine-cone-bird-feeder

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

 

You don’t need a fancy bird feeder to help out the birds in your backyard. With a pine cone, birdseed, and a bit of peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening, you can make feeders that birds will flock to!

Supplies

  • Item to Cover, such as a pine cone, conical ice-cream cone, piece of toast or stale bread, bagel, paper towel or toilet paper tube
  • Peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening
  • Bird seed
  • String or wire for hanging
  • Large bowl or container
  • Knife for spreading

Directions

  1. Attach the string or wire to the item to be covered
  2. Cover the item with peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening
  3. Pour birdseed into a large bowl or container
  4. Roll the covered item in the birdseed until well covered
  5. Hang your homemade bird feeder!

Picture Book Review