March 4 – National Reading Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-once-upon-another-time-cover

About the Holiday

The month of March is dedicated to reading! Starting off with Read across America Day on March 2nd, the month celebrates all the joys and benefits of reading. When you read with your child or children every day you’re helping them develop the language and literacy skills that will promote future success in school and beyond. Even if your child isn’t talking yet, they’re listening and learning about their language as you read to them. Older kids also love being read to, and setting aside time to read together builds strong bonds that can last a lifetime. The month is typically marked with special events in schools, libraries, bookstores, and communities that bring authors, illustrators, and educators together with kids. This year, you can find virtual story times,  resources, and activity ideas on the National Education Association website

Thank you to Beaming Books for sharing a digital copy of Once Upon Another Time for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own. I’m excited to be teaming with Beaming Books in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Once Upon Another Time

Written by Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine | Illustrated by Andrés F. Landazábal

 

In their contemplative story, Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine entreat readers to look at the world in a way that’s new yet also as old as time itself. Beginning with the wistfulness of a fairytale, the hypnotic verses take children back to a “land of long ago”… where “wonder waited in the hush / of every new sunrise.” Back to when mountains rose into clean skies and rivers ran though lush valleys. Back to when “there were no cities made of steel, / no buildings, no concrete, / no highways, byways, / billboard signs, / no traffic in the street.”

For kids it may seem impossible that there was ever a time that gazing upward offered no chance of seeing a plane or drone and that all “the webs were spider-spun.” It’s hard to imagine a world with no machines, no mining for gold or oil, no farming, and even no human footprints in the soil. But “before one human step was taken… Earth and moon and stars awakened.”

This world’s still waiting to be found by stepping out, taking along no distractions. Then once outside, really look at the smallest things, “feel the wind,” and “taste the rain.” Listen closely, breathe in smells, and climb a tree. In the dark, “watch the moon. / Listen to the cricket’s tune.” And soon the dawning “sun will climb… / just as it did another time.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-once-upon-another-time-deer

Image copyright Andrés F. Landazábal, 2021, text copyright Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2021. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

The collaboration between Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine has created a rhyming story that doesn’t just celebrate nature but invites children to rediscover its awesome power to inspire, nurture, and excite. Ghigna and Esenwine’s story structure takes children backward in steps, reflected in page turns, from noisy cities and cluttered skies to the introduction of dams and factories to simple mining practices to the first humans and finally to the birth of our solar system. The impression these pages forge exposes that well-known duality of time: it moves so quickly; it moves so slowly. And so it is with childhood—that time when one can embrace nature—and life—with innocence and wonder. Esenwine and Ghigna ask kids to leave behind the phones, computers, and games to experience sights, sounds, smells, and feelings for real as well as to imagine the past and all the ways we are connected to it.

Andrés F. Landazábal’s lovely illustrations portray the grandeur of nature as well as its simple surprises that are no less breathtaking. A pink, turquoise and golden sunset over desert plateaus contrasts with a twilit wildflower field where a tiny sparrow watches a flock of birds fly away under the eye of a pale crescent moon. Landazábal’s images of nature are soft and mottled while his depictions of modern society show stark lines and the impenetrable nature of concrete, glass, and metal. As the story invites kids to discover the world unhindered, one page spread that will be a particular favorite of readers shows two children walking into their backyard underneath which a fossilized dinosaur sprawls. In his final pages, Landazábal assures readers that no matter where they live—country, suburbs, or city—there are places where they can experience the wonders of nature.

A unique, beautifully poetic invitation for children to explore nature and their place in it, Once Upon Another Time is a story readers will love to hear again and again. The book can also provide a spark for environmental, science, writing, and history lessons. Once Upon Another Time is highly recommended for home, school, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Beaming Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1506460543

Discover more about Charles Ghigna, his books, and his poetry on his website.

To learn more about Matt Forrest Esenwine, his books, and his poetry, visit his website.

You can learn more about Andrés F. Landazábal and view a portfolio of his work on his website.

National Book Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shark-and-books-maze

Book-Loving Shark Maze

 

If you’re like this shark, you love devouring books – the more the better! Can you help this shark find its way to the stack of books in this printable puzzle?

Book-Loving Shark Maze | Book-Loving Shark Maze Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-once-upon-another-time-cover

You can find Once Upon Another Time at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

February 17 – Random Acts of Kindness Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-finding-beauty-cover

About the Holiday

Are you a RAKtivist? You know—a Random Acts of Kindness Activist! Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? It is! And all it takes to be a RAKtivist is to do nice things—kind things—for everyone. These things don’t have to be big, or hard, or expensive, either. In fact, the best kindness acts are free! If you see someone having a bad day, give them a smile. Do you know someone who’s alone? Give them a call. Saying “thank you” to teachers, delivery people, or the workers at your favorite store is another way to share kindness. As part of Random Acts of Kindness Day, you’re also encouraged to give others a card to brighten their day. To learn how you can become a RAKtivist and to find free resources, visit the Random Acts of Kindness Website! As today’s book shows, there is beauty in every act of kindness.

Thanks to Beaming Books for sending me a copy of Finding Beauty for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own. I’m thrilled to be teaming with Beaming Books in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Finding Beauty

By Talitha Shipman

 

As Finding Beauty opens, a baby smiles up at an unseen adult as Talitha Shipman reveals that a child’s idea of beauty begins in these earliest months as family, friends, and even strangers exclaim, “‘What a beautiful girl!’” But Shipman invites readers to look beyond their own or another’s appearance because “beauty surrounds you if you look for it.”

Sometimes you can’t miss it, while other times you’ll find beauty in the tiniest things. There will be times when you’ll see beauty when you’re alone and times when you are with others. “And then one day, because you have been looking, beauty will find you!” You’ll begin to see it and hear it everywhere you go—in the usual places, like the arts, and in places that seem beyond repair. Even when you are sad, beauty will be there to cheer you. In fact, through every season and “from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, you’ll find beauty wherever you go.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-finding-beauty-numbers

Copyright Talitha Shipman, 2021, courtesy of Beaming Books.

In her lyrical and stirring ode to the beauty all around us, Talitha Shipman invites readers to look at the world and find the beauty in conventional and surprising places. Nature, of course, offers beauty that we all recognize. But Shipman spurs kids to think about the beauty in their actions, their interests, and in opportunities. She also offers kids an uplifting promise that when they begin to see the world in a positive way, beauty will find them. Shipman’s simple text will inspire readers to think of their own examples

Accompanying Shipman’s evocative text are her gorgeous illustrations that follow one little girl and her friends as they explore nature, finding beauty in towering trees, vibrant fields of flowers, and a starry sky. The little girl is also shown planting a seedling, helping a friend who has fallen from her bike, and greeting people on the street. Shipman’s images of the girl solving a math problem and enjoying the talents of others show kids that whatever fills their heart is full of beauty too. An illustration of an abandoned, fenced-off lot where a sign announces the coming of a community garden will encourage kids to see possibilities in unexpected places and how they might make a difference.

With a buoyant and promising message that is sure to be embraced, Finding Beauty is sure to be a favorite read aloud and is a perfect book to take along on outings or where waiting is to be expected to spark discussions or even “I Spy Beauty” types of activities that will inspire kids to always look for the best around them. The book is highly recommended for home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 3 – 8

Beaming Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1506463797

Discover more about Talitha Shipman, her books, and her art on her website.

Finding Beauty Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Beaming Books in this giveaway of

  • One (1) copy of Finding Beauty by Talitha Shipman

This giveaway is open from February 17 through February 23 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on February 24.

To Enter:

  • Follow @CelebratePicBks
  • Retweet
  • Reply with something you find beautiful for extra entry. Each reply earns one more entry.

Prizing provided by Beaming Books

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts 

Random Acts of Kindness Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-You-are-beautiful-kindness-cards

You Are Beautiful! Kindness Cards

 

On Random Acts of Kindness Day, people are encouraged to share kindness by giving family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and even strangers uplifting cards to brighten their day. These printable cards can help you or your kids let others know how beautiful they are!

You Are Beautiful! Kindness Cards

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-finding-beauty-cover

You can find Finding Beauty at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

February 12 – It’s Black History Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-opening-the-road-cover

About the Holiday

Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of African Americans in United States History. Originally a week-long observance initiated by writer and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson in1926 and occurring during the second week in February to commemorate the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, Black History Month was officially established in 1976 by then president Gerald Ford. The holiday is now celebrated across the country with special events in schools, churches, and community centers.

The theme for 2021 is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” It explores the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the United States through multiple perspectives. For more information about Black History Month, visit the ASALH website and africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

Written by Keila V. Dawson | Illustrated by Alleanna Harris

 

When Black travelers drove the highways of the United States in the 1920s and 30s and tried to stop at restaurants or motels, they “were told: No food… No vacancy… No bathroom… for Black people.” Instead, Black American motorists had to pack their own food, sleep in their car, and bring their own toilet. “Victor Hugo Green was tired of hearing no…. When he and his wife Alma traveled from New York to Virginia to visit family, they risked getting turned away, yelled at, even hurt.”

At the time, Jim Crow laws in the same segregated Black and White Americans throughout society. Because Blacks had nowhere to stay, they often drove through the night. If Black motorists had an accident, there were no ambulances or hospitals that would help them. In northern and western “sunset towns,” Blacks were alerted to leave town before darkness fell by a siren or a White man waving them out.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-opening-the-road-cafe

Image copyright Alleanna Harris, 2021, text copyright Keila V. Dawson. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

One day Victor discovered a Jewish newspaper that published a guide about places that welcomed Jewish people and sold kosher food. “In the 1930s Jewish Americans couldn’t go everywhere they wanted to either.” Reading this guide, Victor had an idea to write a book of his own for New York. As he walked his route as a mail carrier, he began to ask Black friends and neighbors where they ate, shopped, and played safely. He worked on his book at night after work and finished his ten-page guide, The Negro Motorist Green Book in 1936; he updated it in 1937.

Victor began selling his book at Black churches and social clubs. Readers asked Victor to include more states in his book, so he wrote to other mail carriers all over the country asking for information. Mail carriers responded overwhelmingly. Over the next two years, Victor and Alma worked to expand the Green Book. With the Green Book in hand, “Black travelers knew where to go and who to trust.” As the popularity of the Green Book rose, Victor collected information from readers and agents Victor hired to add to revisions of his book.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-opening-the-road-road-trip

Image copyright Alleanna Harris, 2021, text copyright Keila V. Dawson. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

In 1940 the United States government named the Green Book an “‘official Negro travel guide.’” Then Esso gas stations of the Standard Oil Company began selling the book. The Green Book became a best seller. The Green Book spurred new businesses as Black women opened their homes as bed and breakfasts for travelers; it also informed readers about Black accomplishments, history, colleges that accepted Black students, and more.

With two million copies sold, the Green Book “made it possible for Black families to enjoy vacations.” Through the 1950s and 1960s as the fight against segregation and the civil rights movement took hold, the Green Book continued to keep Blacks safe. Victor dreamed of the day when, as he said, “‘we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States.’” That day came when, in 1964, segregation was ended by law and the Green Book became less necessary. The Green Book ceased publication after the 1966-67 issue, just as Victor had hoped.

An illustrated timeline takes children along a winding highway from 1892, when Victor Hugo Green was born, to 1967 when the Green Book ceased publication, quotations by Victor Green, and a selected bibliography follow the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-opening-the-road-theater

Image copyright Alleanna Harris, 2021, text copyright Keila V. Dawson. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Keila V. Dawson’s compelling book about Victor Hugo Green’s guide for Black travelers is a powerful tool for teaching children about the history of racial inequality and segregation as well as an expanded understanding of their effects on the lives of Black Americans. While children may be familiar with separate facilities for Blacks and Whites, separate seating on transportation, and school inequality, many will be shocked by travel conditions, the idea that hospitals would not help Blacks, and sunset towns where Blacks were ordered out as the sun went down. While Dawson’s unstinting text will move readers, her storytelling also reveals the resilience of the human spirit and how one man rose above the dangers and prejudice of the time to make traveling and living in America safer for Blacks. The fact that the fight for racial equality continues today makes Dawson’s book an important resource for children to learn not only the exclusion Blacks once legally faced but to make them think about incidents of discrimination that still exist and how they might help bring about a more equitable society.

Alleanna Harris faithfully depicts the times with realistic illustrations that show children how sparsely populated the highway system was, making it even more difficult for Blacks to find welcoming businesses and services. Her image of a Black man driving past a sign that reads “Whites only after dark” as a White man leans against it pointing the way out of town should affect every reader. Children are able to follow Victor Hugo Green and Alma as Victor conceives the idea of the Green Book, and they gather information, and sell the book. They’ll also see the types of businesses mentioned in the Green Book, from gas stations to general stores to movie theaters and private homes where rooms were available for travelers. Interspersed with images of Victor and his work Harris includes illustrations of other familiar ways Blacks were discriminated against.

An important resource for teachers, parents, and other adults engaged in teaching children about American history, the history of civil rights, and the experience of Blacks in America, Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book is highly recommended for home, school, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Beaming Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1506467917

You can find an Opening the Road Educators Guide to download on the Beaming Books website.

Discover more about Keila V. Dawson and her books on her website.

To learn more about Alleanna Harris, her books, and her art, visit her website.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-opening-the-road-cover

You can find Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

February 10 – It’s Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-girl's-bill-of-rights-cover

About the Holiday

Ideas and dreams lead to accomplishments and accomplishments can lead to greatness! And when does this all begin? In childhood as kids develop knowledge, skills, and confidence. Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month was established to help people remove barriers to their success and make changes to better their lives. To celebrate with your kids, talk to them about what they would like to achieve and what kind of support they need to make their dreams come true. Today’s book can help girls understand that they should always celebrate their talents and emotions and never feel second-best or accept impediments to their success. So, get started this month on planting – and nurturing – all the seeds of your greatness in your family or classroom.  

 

A Girl’s Bill of Rights

Written by Amy B. Mucha | Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda

 

In her super book that affirms a girl’s right to her own likes, dislikes, and feelings, Amy B. Mucha presents her story in the first person, allowing readers to internalize the affirming text and identify with her examples. The book opens with a Black girl talking about her skateboard and skateboarding for show and tell. The narrator states, I have the right to like what I like and love what I love.” In the front row of desks, Addy Rivera Sonda includes three more girls, including one who uses a wheelchair, ready to talk about their favorites: pets, soccer, and dance.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-girl's-bill-of-rights-dancing

Image copyright Addy Rivera Sonda, 2021, text copyright Amy B Mucha. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

As the girl’s vote for class president, readers are told that they have the right to think for themselves, make their own choices, and for their “Yes” to mean yes and their “No” to mean no. And if they feel disappointed or frustrated or happy, they can show their feelings without being chastised or made to feel it’s not appropriate.

Girls are reminded that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that when it comes to making friends, they can choose their own as well as how they express their affection. Girl’s also learn that “if someone is hurting or disrespecting me, I have the right to say ‘STOP!’ and even the right to SCREAM it!’ Because it is NOT OK to hurt me. Or anyone. Not ever.” And every girl is reassured that she has the right to decide who she is now and what she will choose to do in the future; she’s reassured that she has the right to be herself.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-girl's-bill-of-rights-bus

Image copyright Addy Rivera Sonda, 2021, text copyright Amy B Mucha. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

In her straightforward , empowering text, Amy B. Mucha shows girls just how valuable they are. Through the examples I highlighted and many other common issues on which girls are criticized, ignored, or second guess themselves, Mucha delivers a strong message that their opinions, feelings, and preferences are valuable and should be heard. Periodic rhymes give the text a lyricism that flows easily from page to page. The number and range of rights that Mucha presents gives children and adults many opportunities to discuss these important and commonly faced experiences as well as their immediate and long-term effects on girls.

In her vibrant and expressive illustrations populated with a group of diverse girls, Addy Rivera Sonda shares clear images of girls doing what they love, adopting a look that reflects their personality, making choices, expressing their emotions, sticking up for themselves, and being proud of their accomplishments. From school to the soccer field to the stage to a party, Sonda presents uplifting examples of how this close-knit group supports each other. For girls, these images will resonate deep in their hearts. Boys reading or listening to the book—and this is a book every boy should know—will see how and why girls express a variety of emotions as well as behaviors on the part of others that are destructive to a girl’s self-esteem and autonomy. The final illustration showing all six girls happy to live as their true selves is a poignant and heartening vision for children to take away from this book.

A dynamic read to empower and celebrate girls, A Girl’s Bill of Rights is highly recommended for home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Beaming Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1506464527

Discover more about Amy B. Mucha and her books on her website.

You can connect with Addy Rivera Sonda on Instagram.

A Girl’s Bill of Rights Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Beaming Books in this giveaway! Three lucky winners will take home

  • One (1) copy of A Girl’s Bill of Rights written by Amy B. Mucha | illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda

This giveaway is open from February 10 through February 16 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on February 17.

To Enter:

Prizing provided by Beaming Books

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts 

Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-initial-bookend

I Love Me! Initial Bookend

 

You can show your pride in your name (or play with changing it) with this easy craft that will keep all your books tidy on their shelf! This makes a great gift too!

Supplies

  • Sturdy wooden letter blocks in the child’s first and last initials. Or, if the child would like to try on a new name or nickname, the first letter of their new name.
  • Chalkboard or acrylic paint
  • Colored chalk
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint the letters, let dry
  2. With the chalk write words that describe you or names of your heroines and/or heroes
  3. Display your bookends

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-girl's-bill-of-rights-cover

You can find A Girl’s Bill of Rights at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

December 18 – Get Ready for Christmas

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-star-in-the-christmas-play-cover

About the Holiday

Traditionally, the holidays are a time for special choir performances, plays, and orchestra and band concerts that can be exciting – or a little nerve-wracking – for kids. For parents and caregivers, these performances bring pride and even a tear or two. While this year holiday celebrations may be different, kids and adults are still finding ways to use their talents to make Christmas fun. Reading holiday stories together is one of the best ways to share favorite traditions. 

The Star in the Christmas Play

Written by Lynne Marie | Illustrated by Lorna Hussey

While Raffi usually ran to savannah school, today “he dragged his hooves.” When his mother asked what was wrong, he told her that he worried he was too big to get a part in the Christmas play. His mother reassured him that he was “just the right size” and that someday he would appreciate being so tall. When Raffi got to school, all of his classmates were in line for auditions, and they all knew exactly what part they wanted to play.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-star-in-the-christmas-play-audition

Image copyright Lorna Hussey, 2018, text copyright Lynne Marie, 2018. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Raffi felt downhearted—he “could never be a star,” he thought. When his turn came to audition, everyone told him he’d done an excellent job of reading Joseph’s part. Perked up, Raffi galloped home to tell his mother that maybe he could be a star after all. She gave him a nuzzle and said, “‘You’re my star.’” In the morning Raffi raced to school, eager to find out who got which parts. As Mrs. Ostrich read off the names and their parts, Raffi listened for his name. The parts of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the wisemen and shepherds, and the animals all went to his friends. Raffi watched sadly as they celebrated their parts. He wished he could go home.

Just then Mrs. Ostrich said his name and added, “‘I’ve not yet assigned your role….’” Raffi whispered his fear to his teacher, and she agreed that he was too big to play some parts. Still, she said, they would think of something. Raffi gazed at the stage, hoping he could be up there too.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-star-in-the-christmas-play-slumped

Image copyright Lorna Hussey, 2018, text copyright Lynne Marie, 2018. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Then he remembered what his mother had told him and he had an idea. He quietly shared it with Mrs. Ostrich. She thought it was wonderful. On the day of the play, all the little animals took their places behind the curtain as their parents found seats on the benches. When the curtain rose, Raffi knelt near the manger. A large, shining star surrounded his head. “Raffi beamed.” He was a star-—the star who guided the wise men and the shepherds to find the baby Jesus in the stable.

CPB – the star in the christmas play nativity

Image copyright Lorna Hussey, 2018, text copyright Lynne Marie, 2018. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Lynne Marie’s sweet story of a little giraffe trying to find his place is endearing through and through. Children will empathize with his wish to be included in the Christmas play and his worries about his size. Raffi’s loving mother offers encouragement and snuggles, and their trusting relationship in which Raffi feels comfortable revealing his doubts is a highlight of the story. By allowing Raffi to create an important part for himself, Marie also empowers readers to find their own perseverance, creativity, and voice. Raffi’s beaming smile as he sits straight and tall while playing the Christmas star, shows children that they should always be proud of who they are and their important role in the world. Marie includes many opportunities for kids and adults to discuss various emotions and aspects of friendship—from celebrating others’ accomplishments to feeling left out of the fun—making the book an excellent choice at any time of the year.

Lorna Hussey’s savannah animal children are adorable as they demonstrate why they’d be perfect for their preferred roles in the play. Kids will enjoy studying the clues and guessing which part each animal wants to play. Contrasting their exuberance with Raffi’s bent neck, droopy ears, and sad expression, readers can clearly see how Raffi’s worries weigh on him. The tender love between sunny-spotted Raffi and his mother will touch readers. The final spread of the Nativity play is lovely and uplifting, and children will love lingering over this page to point out all the details.

A heartening and layered story for Christmas and throughout the year, The Star in the Christmas Play is highly recommended for making every child feel like the star they are. The book would be charming addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Beaming Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1506438139

Discover more about Lynne Marie and her books on her website.

A Chat with Lynne Marie

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-star-in-the-christmas-play-Lynne-Marie-headshot

Lynne Marie is the author of Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World, illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019); Moldilocks and the 3 Scares, illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, 2019); The Star in the Christmas Play, illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018); Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten, illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011); and Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School, illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, 2017). Her stories, poems, and folk tales have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family FunHighlightsHigh FiveSpiderBaby Bug, and more.

Hi, Lynne! I’m excited to have the chance to talk with you a little about Lorna Hussey’s adorable art. Lorna adds such a sweet dimension to your story, and Raffi will melt readers’ hearts. How did you two get together to create this moving, family story?  

I absolutely LOVED Lorna Hussey’s art in my second picture book, Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School. But for some reason, I didn’t have anyone in mind for this book. Then, when Beaming Books editor Naomi Krueger said I could offer up a list of illustrators whose styles I would like them to consider, I posted an open call on my Facebook Page for Illustrator friends to hit me up with their African Animals. People quickly posted samples, including Lorna, who posted a picture of a Lion, and I knew right away she was the one, without any doubts!

Beaming Books loved her work too, and she was offered a contract. However, she didn’t know it because her Agent was on holiday for three weeks. When the Agent returned, everything came to light, but due to no response, Beaming Books had offered the contract to another artist. Lorna and I fought very hard to win back the contract under the extenuating circumstances and we won! 

I am so totally *over-the-moon* pleased with how the book turned out and have just hung some of the original art from both books in my office! Lorna also provided pictures for me to use as a Christmas postcard and a Christmas card! 

I am honestly trying very hard to find another project to work with Lorna on! She’s so talented and such a kind soul! 

What a wonderful story! I’m glad – I’m sure readers are too – that Lorna found her place on your creative team! I wish you all the best with The Star in the Christmas Play and all of your books!

You can discover more about Lynne’s inspiration for her story, what she’d like children to learn from it, and a favorite family Christmas tradition, read an interview with Carolyn Bedford on the Beaming Books website.

Get Ready for Christmas! Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-christmas-word-search-puzzle-with-graphics

Tell the Good News! Word Search Puzzle

Find the sixteen words about the first Christmas in this printable Tell the Good News word search puzzle.

Tell the Good News! Word Search Puzzle | Tell the Good News! Word Search Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-star-in-the-christmas-play-cover

You can find The Star in the Christmas Play at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

December 1 – National Day of Giving

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-moles-christmas-gift-cover

About the Holiday

Established in 2012, the National Day of Giving – also known as Giving Tuesday – is held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to celebrate generosity and giving to others. Commemorated around the world, the movement “unleashes the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and their world.” There are many ways to lend a hand and give back from donating money or goods to lending your voice in advocating for those in need to using your talents to make a difference. It’s hoped that this one day sparks a continued outpouring of giving throughout the year. the spirit of today’s holiday continues throughout the year. To learn more about how individuals or organizations can get involved in the US or globally, visit the Giving Tuesday website.

Little Mole’s Christmas Gift

Written by Glenys Nellist | Illustrated by Sally Garland

 

Little Mole was looking forward to Christmas like never before. Out in the woods he’d found “the biggest, the best, the most beautiful mushroom he had ever seen,” and he couldn’t wait to give it to Mama. He put on his warm clothes and boots and headed into the forest to pick it. As he pulled it along behind him, he imagined Mama’s surprise and delight when she saw it.

But as he was dragging it home, he heard someone crying. Curled up in the brambles was Little Squirrel. When Little Mole asked what was wrong, Little Squirrel said she hadn’t eaten all day. Little Mole thought that breaking a piece off the stem would still leave a nice gift for Mama while satisfying his friend. Little Squirrel was so thankful as she nibbled on her meal.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-moles-christmas-gift-Little-Squirrel

Image copyright Sally Garland, 2020, text copyright Glenys Nellist, 2020. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Little Mole hoisted the mushroom onto his shoulder and went on his way. Soon he heard whimpering, and as he came closer he saw Little Mouse in distress. Little Weasel had taken his pillow and Little Mouse couldn’t get to sleep. There was still plenty of stem left, Little Mole decided, so he cut off a piece. Little Mouse laid down and under a blanket of leaves Little Mole pulled up, he fell asleep.

Little Mole was just about home when he ran into Little Chipmunk who was worried about getting caught in the coming winter storm without an umbrella. Little Mole knew his mushroom “would make a perfect umbrella. But if he gave it away, he wouldn’t have a big gift for Mama anymore.” He couldn’t decide what to do. Just then it started sleeting. Little Mole wasted no time. He snapped off the stem and gave the top to Little Chipmunk. “‘Thanks, Little Mole. You are so kind!’ Little Chipmunk said as she took shelter under the mushroom.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-moles-christmas-gift-Little-Chipmunk

Image copyright Sally Garland, 2020, text copyright Glenys Nellist, 2020. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Little Mole wrapped up his gift for Mama. It was just a bit of stem, not the big gift he had envisioned. But when Mama opened it, she was delighted. It was just the thing to make a delicious soup for their Christmas dinner. Little Mole didn’t seem convinced, though. He told Mama that the mushroom used to be much larger, but that he had given “most of it away to friends who needed it.”

When she heard that, Mama gave her son a big hug and told him that his “‘kindness [was] the biggest, most perfect Christmas gift I have ever received.’” Little Mole smiled. Christmas had turned out just as he had hoped.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-moles-christmas-gift-best-gift

Image copyright Sally Garland, 2020, text copyright Glenys Nellist, 2020. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

With an endearing protagonist, Glenys Nellist’s story about the true meaning of giving from the heart will appeal to little ones’ natural sense of generosity while strengthening the joy they feel in helping out at home or helping those in need. The three friends Little Mole encounters give children an opportunity to talk about what they would do in each situation and for adults to discuss ideas of kindness as well as gratitude as this one gift becomes many. Mama’s reaction to Little Mole’s gift will show kids that it’s not the size of a present that counts but the love and thought that goes into it. They’ll also see that a person’s actions, compassion, and consideration for others are gifts that cannot be matched.

Sally Garland’s textured illustrations focus on adorable Little Mole and his dreams of the perfect Christmas, allowing the youngest readers to fully appreciate Little Mole’s decisions to give up parts of the present for Mama that means so much to him. As Little Mole encounters Little Squirrel, Little Mouse, and Little Chipmunk, readers can clearly see the sadness and need of each of these friends as well as the positive difference Little Mole’s kindness makes in their day. Garland’s lovely aqua sky swirled with white snow and gauzy wind makes for a shivery winter scene, while Little Mole’s home is cozy and warm with a glittering Christmas tree and homemade treats and decorations.

A charming companion to Little Mole Finds Hope, Little Mole’s Christmas Gift makes for cozy story times that will inspire love, compassion, and kindness at Christmas and throughout the year. The book would be a favorite addition to home, school, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 3 – 6

Beaming Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1506448756

Discover more about Glenys Nellist and her books on her website.

You can connect with Sally Garland on Instagram.

National Day of Giving Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-moles-christmas-gift-coloring-page

Little Mole’s Christmas Gift Activity Kit

 

Have fun with Little Mole and the six pages of puzzles and coloring pages in this Activity Kit available for download and printing from Beaming Books. 

Little Mole’s Christmas Gift Activity Kit

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-moles-christmas-gift-cover

You can find Little Mole’s Christmas Gift at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 6 – It’s Picture Book Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-awesomely-emma-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s picture books are amazing! Offering inspiration, characters that really speak to kids, moments to laugh out loud or reflect, glimpses into history, revelations in science, and much of the best art currently being produced, picture books defy their slim appearance with content that can change young lives. Reading a wide variety of books to children from birth on up is one of the most rewarding activities you can do. Make choosing the books to read a family affair! Kids love picking out their own books and sharing cozy and fun story times with you!

Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story

Written by Amy Webb | Illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard

 

Emma loved making art of all kinds, she also loved laughing, her big sister, Chloe, and her mom and dad. Emma had limb differences. “She had no hands and used a wheelchair to get around.” When she drew or painted she held the pencil or paint brush with her toes. Today, Emma was painting a picture of herself. “Emma looked at her drawing and said, ‘No bodies are wrong. All bodies are right. We’re all different colors, sizes, and heights.’” Emma knew that her body worked differently, and she loved who she was.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-awesomely-emma-painting

Image copyright Merrilee Liddiard, 2020, text copyright Amy Webb, 2020. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

When Emma’s class went to the art museum, Emma hoped to find a painting by her favorite artist, Matisse, who also used a wheelchair. But when they got to the museum, there was no ramp out front for Emma to use. Instead, she and her teacher would have to go around back and meet up with the class inside. Emma felt sad and frustrated because she wanted to use the front door, but she put on a smile and reminded herself “‘My body works differently – I love being me! Because ME is an awesome thing to be.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-awesomely-emma-drawing

Image copyright Merrilee Liddiard, 2020, text copyright Amy Webb, 2020. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Once inside, the kids raced all over the museum looking at the different types of art. At last, Emma found a painting by Matisse. Gazing at it, Emma dreamed that one day maybe her art would hang in a museum. Her musings were suddenly interrupted when Charley grabbed hold of her wheelchair and began pushing. Emma had to remind him that she liked to drive herself. Then at lunch, before she could even unpack her bag, Charley started doing it for her. And when they stopped to draw, Charley was right there again to help. It made Emma angry, and she told Charley to stop.

Charley apologized and said he felt bad about her not being able to use the front door and about other things Emma couldn’t do. Emma explained to him that everyone is different and that she loves who she is. Emma said that it was okay if she couldn’t do everything. No one can do everything, she told Charley. Then she reminded him of all the things she could do on her own and with her feet.

Suddenly, Emma had an idea. In her sketchpad she wrote a letter, and the whole class signed it. Before they left, Charley handed it to a museum worker. Several weeks later, a letter arrived for the class. In it the museum director agreed that there should be a ramp out front and promised to begin building one right away. Everyone cheered, and Emma “felt awesome.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-awesomely-emma-museum

Image copyright Merrilee Liddiard, 2020, text copyright Amy Webb, 2020. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Positive, straightforward, and empowering, Amy Webb’s book about a girl with limb differences and a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem is both a compelling story and an excellent way for adults and children to discuss the wide range of abilities people possess, inclusivity, and individuality. Emma, displaying talent, poise, and enthusiasm as well as the courage to speak up for herself, is a delight. She is a superb role model for all children.

Merrilee Liddiard’s charming illustrations show Emma as a regular kid, drawing, painting, at school with friends, and enjoying the trip to the museum—just differently. Her happiness and self-possession are evident in her expressions and interactions with her friends. When no ramp is available at the front door of the museum and Charley begins taking over, Emma’s expression registers her frustration, allowing readers to see and understand how these experiences make her feel. Images of Emma in her wheelchair and performing tasks with her bare feet demonstrate Emma’s independence and abilities.

Uplifting and inclusive, Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story is highly recommended and would be an inspiring addition to home bookshelves and is a must for school and public library collections. Don’t miss the first book in this series: When Charley Met Emma.

Ages 4 – 8

Beaming Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1506464954

Discover more about Amy Webb and her books on her website.

To learn more about Merrilee Liddiard, her books, and her art, visit her website.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-awesomely-emma-cover

You can find Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review