September 8 – It’s Read a New Book Month


About the Holiday

Read a New Book Month is a fantastic time to scour your local bookstore and library for books that have recently been published or books that are new to you. Finding a book that you’ve never read before is exciting at any age, and discovering a new book about a favorite topic is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Today’s board book is definitely one that will spark a love for reading and learning in children who are just discovering the wonder of books.

Thanks go to Danna Smith and Little Simon for sharing a digital copy of Wake Up Freight Train! with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Wake Up, Freight Train!

Written by Danna Smith | Illustrated by Jon Andersen


For the townspeople it’s time for sleeping, but down at the train station, things are just getting underway as the freight train prepares for its nighttime run. First things first, however. It’s time to rouse the cars one by one. “Choo-choo! Wake up, steam engine, alone on your track. Let’s hook up the freight cars to the hitch on your back.”


Image copyright Jon Andersen, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith, 2022. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Second in line is the tender that carries the coal. Behind it are cars three, four, and five with supplies for building and heating. Car six is the hopper then …  “Cattle car coming! You’re filled with fresh hay, / hauling some heifers, moooooving this way.” The boxcar follows and finally, “it’s your turn, caboose! / Let’s hook you up fast. / The crew rides in you— / you’re the car that goes last.”


Image copyright Jon Andersen, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith, 2022. Courtesy of Little Simon.

With all the cars hitched and the coal bin full, the train rolls out of the station. “Toot-toot goes the horn, / blink-blink go the lights, / clang-clang goes the bell, all through the night.” The train chugs over hills and across fields until, with the dawning sun, it arrives at its destination and “our freight train’s long journey has come to an end.”


Image copyright Jon Andersen, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith, 2022. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Little (and big) train lovers will adore Danna Smith’s rhyming tribute to freight trains that carry goods and animals across states, and sometimes across the country. Smith’s introduction to each type of car is infused with childlike wonder and that special conversational relationship young children have with the world around them. As readers greet each car, they not only learn information about the car’s load and role but hear internal rhymes, alliteration, and even a few puns—all building blocks for early literacy. Smith’s gentle rhythm, paired with the nighttime setting, also makes Wake Up, Freight Train! a perfect read aloud for bedtime.

Jon Andersen’s beautiful, soft blues and greens of a starlit night will put little ones in the mood to be carried into dreamland even as they discover how each different car looks and what it carries. The changing landscape behind each pair of train cars offer interest and continuity while also giving kids an opportunity to talk about how long this train is. Sleepy animals come out to watch as the cars are hitched together, reminding little readers that it might just be bedtime for them too, and the peek of pink on the horizon in the last spread reassures them that tomorrow will come soon.

Wake Up, Freight Train! delightfully captures young children’s fascination with trains and is sure to become a favorite for bedtime (or anytime). The book is highly recommended for home bookshelves; daycare, school, and public library collections; and as a gift for babies and preschoolers.

Ages 2 – 4

Little Simon, 2022 | ISBN 978-1534492516

Discover more about Danna Smith and her books on her website.

To learn more about Jon Andersen and view a portfolio of his art, visit his website.

Read a New Book Month Activity


Freight Train Coloring Page


Who doesn’t love a train?! With this coloring sheet, kids can make their train as colorful as they want! They may even want to add a few animals and birds to the background!

Freight Train Coloring Page


You can find Wake Up, Freight Train! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review


January 6 – Cuddle Up Day


About the Holiday

Cuddling up is great any time of the year, but in the cold, snowy weather of winter it’s especially nice! Little ones love to cuddle! It makes them feel safe and warm and loved! To celebrate today’s holiday spend a little extra time cuddling with your child or children. Reading a sweet book together makes snuggle time even better!

Kisses and Cuddles

By little bee books


A little penguin sits at the table with a tall stack of pancakes watching Mom cook up some more on the pot-belly stove. “I love eating pancakes,” the little one says. “And playing with my toys.” After breakfast he loves drumming and making noise, even if Mama isn’t as keen on it. Later on, little penguin gets a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and is lucky enough to see a rainbow in the sky.


Copyright little bee books, 2015

Back at home with soft pillows for landing and a green towel cape, little penguin loves “being a superhero. Come on—watch me fly!” After all that excitement, the penguin loves to snuggle in a comfy chair and read a book with lots of toys around. As nighttime comes, penguin settles into bed holding teddy tight. “But what I love the most,” says little penguin, “what ends the day just right…are kisses and cuddles from Mama when we say goodnight.”


Copyright little bee books, 2015

The tiniest readers will be delighted with the adorable little penguin and the busy day that ends in the best way possible—with kisses and cuddles. The baby penguin loves all the same things they do, making this little gem an instant favorite. The smoothly flowing rhymes are spirited and straightforward—perfect for capturing a tot’s attention at nap time, bedtime, or story time.


Copyright little bee books, 2015

The vivid illustrations have plenty of details for kids to look for and point out, and the joyful little penguin will make them smile and giggle. The final spread of Mama and chick cuddling as they say goodnight will inspire lots of real cuddles after the story ends. Written without pronouns, Kisses and Cuddles is just right for all children.

Ages 1 – 4

little bee books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1499801514

Cuddle Up Day Activity


Cuddle Buddy


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!


  • 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


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