April 23 – World Book and Copyright Day

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About the Holiday

Sponsored by UNESCO, World Book and Copyright Day encourages families and individuals to rediscover the joys of reading and promotes the availability of a wide range of books in all languages and for the disabled. It is also an opportunity to highlight the power of books to promote our vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens. Each year publishers, booksellers, and libraries choose a World Book Capitol for a one-year period. This year Conakry, Guinea was selected in part “on account of the quality and diversity of its program, in particular its focus on community involvement.”

You can get involved too! Why not start today? With so many amazing books to discover, reading daily is a luxury worth indulging. For kids, there may be no cozier or more comforting routine than snuggling up next to mom or dad or cuddling under the covers and getting lost in a wonderful story before falling asleep.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Wish Williams

 

As twilight paints the sky pink, purple, and gold, Little Sea Otter gets ready to sleep in her kelp forest bed. Mama Otter fluffs her baby’s fur and snuggles with her, but Little Otter is still wide awake. “‘I forgot to say goodnight to the harbor seals,’” she tells Mama. The baby waves her “soft, silky paw toward the rocky shore” and says goodnight. The harbor seals all along the craggy cliffs wish the little otter goodnight in return.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Hearing the seals’ goodnight song, the sea lions join in, their loud barks echoing in the air. “‘Good night, father sea lions. Good night, mother sea lions and baby sea lions,’” Little Otter calls. Curious about all the commotion, a seagull swoops down and learns that it’s bedtime for Little Otter. The two say “Good night” to each other, and as the seagull flies away to find his own place to sleep, Mama Otter tries to tuck in her little pup.

“But before she could say another word, Little Sea Otter dipped her furry face into the chilly water.” There she sees a whole ocean full of fish to greet. She says “Good night” to the yellow fish, the orange fish, and the purple fish. Of course she can’t forget the long fish or the short fish, the striped fish or the spotted fish either. All these fish are happy to wish the tiny pup sweet dreams too. Mama Otter points out other sea creatures getting ready for bed—different types of crabs, snails, sea stars, anemones, clams, and more. Little Otter says “Good night” to each in turn.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopuses, rays, jelly fish, sea horses, eels, and others bubble a chorus of “Good night” to Little Otter. She listens and responds to each one and then asks Mama if she has forgotten anyone. “‘Yes, you did,’” Mama says, “scooping her up in her paws. ‘You missed ME!’” Little Otter giggles and says “Good night.” Mama Otter hugs her tight and rolls over and over in the kelp, wrapping them both “in ribbons of seaweed” that will keep them secure on the ocean currents as they sleep.

Little Otter gazes up into the night sky and says “Good night” to the moon and the stars. As Little Otter’s eyes finally close and she drifts into sleep, Mama kisses her gently on the head and the sea whispers, “‘rock-a-bye.’”

Little Otter’s repeated phrase of “Good night” gives children plenty of opportunities to read along. Kids and adults who enjoy the beach and marine environments will also be delighted in the scientific facts about sea otters organically sprinkled into the text.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Janet Halfmann’s gentle bedtime story is a sweet reminder for children of all the people in their life who love them and are thinking of them every day. As Little Sea Otter puts off sleep with just one more “Good night” and then another and another, Halfmann reveals with lyrical language the wide world of the sea and the creatures in it. Mama’s patient support of her pup’s curiosity and connections to her world provide tender moments between mother and child, as do their final bedtime rituals before drifting off to sleep. The readiness of the ocean creatures to respond with their own heartfelt wishes for the little pup suggest that this is a nightly and eagerly anticipated ending to each day by all.

Wish Williams’ beautiful, vivid illustrations are stunning and detailed, offering a magical realism that is perfect for this book’s wide-eyed audience. Little Otter and her sea creature friends are adorable, their smiling faces glowing with their happiness to see each other and finish the day together. While the fish and other sea creatures are colorful, the hues are true to their natural counterparts. The blue-green ocean swirls and foams along the rocky shore at twilight while whitecaps glitter in starlight when the sun goes down.

The lovely nature of the mother/child relationship, opportunities for child participation, and gorgeous art make Good Night, Little Sea Otter a welcome addition to home bookshelves for quiet story times and bedtime.

Ages 2 – 6

Star Bright Books, 2010 | ISBN 978-1595722546 (English Edition).

Star Bright Books offers Good Night, Little Sea Otter in bilingual editions in 8 other languages. To view them click here.

Learn more about Janet Halfmann and her other books on her website!

World Book and Copyright Day Activity

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Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page

 

Say “Good night” to these sweet sea otters before going to bed by coloring this printable Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

April 16 – Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day

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About the Holiday

Forget about Casual Friday, Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day offers much more in the way of comfort and coziness—as those who work from home well know! A little research on pajamas finds that the word derives from a Persian term for “leg garment.” Draw string pants were popular in Southwest Asia and were brought to the attention of other areas of the world by British colonials. The Western world adopted these comfy pants in the 1800s, and since then bed wear has become softer, more flexible, and more colorful. To celebrate today, wear your favorite jammies to work—and don’t forget your teddy bear!

Piggies in Pajamas

Written by Michelle Meadows | Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

It’s bedtime for the little piggies, but Papa isn’t home yet and Mama’s on the phone. So the five rambunctious kids find ways to spend the time. A peek into their room finds “Piggies in pajamas / jumping in the air / tossing up the pillows / popcorn in their hair.” The quadruple bunk beds make tall mountains to climb and perfect platforms for jumping into the ocean, but as the piggies dive onto the soft, pillow “water,” they hear Mama’s footsteps in the hall.

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The piggies “hurry to the tunnel. / Everybody, hide. / Underneath the covers, snuggle deep inside.” Soon all seems quiet, so they tiptoe from their beds to spy on Mama. They’re happy to see that she’s still occupied, leaving the tracks clear for the piggie train to toot, toot across the floor. But Mama, in her curlers, hears a suspicious sound and stomp, stomp, stomps upstairs.

Once more the five siblings rush to their beds and pull up the covers, their ears trained on any sound from downstairs. A familiar “crick, creak” tells them that Mama is now sitting down and chatting with Mrs. Cat. “Piggies in pajamas, / whirl around the room. / Cartwheels and somersaults— / Boom, Boom, Boom!” All that noise brings Mama stomp, stomp, stomping, but when she opens the piggies’ door, they’re all snuggled in and quiet as mice.

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

One sneaky eye watches Mama as she descends the stairs on her way to the kitchen for an evening snack. In moments, the little ones are up again and searching through the trunk for toys and cars and dress-up clothes. Just then at the window they hear a “scratch, scratch, tap, tap” and although it’s only a tree branch waving in the wind, the imagined wolf or fox or bear has left them shivering.

One by one, all in a line they grab their blankets and crawl down the hall to a new cozy bed. While Mama’s washing up her face, they cuddle in and start to snooze. Soon, “Mama sees their pink ears. / Tails are sticking out. / Mama climbs into bed and / kisses every snout. / ‘Good night, piggies!’”

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The little piggies in Michelle Meadow’s sweet story want to do the right thing, but it’s just so exciting to stay up late! Readers know how they feel and will giggle along as the piggies romp when Mama’s gone but fly into bed when they hear her stomps. Meadow’s jouncy rhyme captures the freewheeling antics of unsupervised kids, the delicious suspense of getting caught, and the endearing appeal for comfort when kids are scared or truly ready to drift into dreams.

Ard Hoyt’s energetic piggies know how to make the most of Mama’s inattention! Bouncing on the bed with their popcorn snack, climbing a rope made of sheets to the top of the bedpost “mountain,” and strutting down the hall in a piggie train, these five siblings are as cute as can be. Hoyt’s split pages show both the expressive siblings and Mama as they go about their nightly routines, acting and interacting on the sounds they hear. The soft colors, humorous details, and final spreads of the piglets in Mama’s bed, tell readers that despite all the shenanigans, this is a house full of love.

Piggies in Pajamas would quickly become a bedtime favorite and a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5

Simon & Schuster, 2013 | ISBN 978-1416949824

Discover more about Michelle Meadows and her books as well as teachers activities on her website!

You can learn more about Ard Hoyt and view a gallery of his books on his website!

Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day Activity

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Design Your Own Pajamas

Are pajama sleepers or tops and pants your favorites for bedtime? With this printable Design Your Own Pajamas coloring sheet, you can create jammies just the way you like them!

Picture Book Review

April 1—International Pillow Fight Day

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About the Holiday

Pillow fights are fluffy fun that’s more about laughing than combat. Once only enjoyed by siblings, at sleepovers, and to delay bedtime, pillow fights have become the stuff (stuffing?) of mass swatfests worldwide. So grab your pillow, swing with all your might, and let the feathers fly!

SnoozeFest

Written by Samantha Berger | Illustrated by Kristyna Litten

 

Snuggleford Cuddlebun is the sleepiest sloth in Snoozeville. “Now that sloth can sleep, for a month at a go. / The few time she rises, she moves in slo-mo.” But there is one annual event that sets her heart—and her feet—racing enough to leave her cozy bed—SnoozeFest. “This is the place where the best sleepers go / to snore their way through this naptacular show.” So Snuggleford packs up her her jammies and teddy, her pillow and book and joins the other great sleepers on the bus that will take them to the NuzzleDome.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

As Snuggleford looks for the best place to camp, she sees that she’s in good company. The wildcats, wombats, koala bears, brown bats, squirrels, and armadillos are also setting up tents, laying down sleeping bags, and lounging in hammocks—which is Snuggleford’s favorite too. After finding her spot “she strolls through the stands / for posters and T-shirts / and swag from the bands.” Soon it’s time for the show to begin with the P. J. Parade, where sleepwear from such designers as Diane von FirstInBed and Louis Futon are on full display.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

“Then all the big spotlights dim down in the Dome, / and everyone turns on their night-light from home.” The first band to perform is the “Chamomile Rage” and although the crowd is half asleep by the middle of the first song, “the snoozers yawn deeply, yet still clap for more. / The second act’s also a guaranteed snore.” Then “a poet named Burrows recites a haiku / and imitates rain with his didgeridoo.”  More acts take the stage—the Nocturnal Nesters and the Quiet Quartet, Tranquility Trio and the Drowsy Duet. Yes, “These are the best bands for deep relaxation, / followed by Sweet Dreams and Deep Hiber-Nation.”

For Snuggleford Cuddlebun the concert is all she could want. In fact, “Several days later the SnoozeFest is done. / And who’s still asleep? Why it’s Miss Cuddlebun.” She folds up her things, tosses away her trash, and rides the bus back home. There she climbs into bed and shuts her eyes and dreams of next year’s SnoozeFest.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

Samantha Berger’s SnoozeFest is one of the cutest, most original bedtime books around. With wit and charm Berger makes full use of the festival setting and experience. Her inspired rhymes, adorable band names, and atmosphere that combines just the right amount of excitement and slumber-inducing lilt, will delight kids of all ages and adults as well. From Snoozeville to the NuzzleDome to a full verse of blanket nicknames, Berger has come up with the “wumphiest, coziest, comfiest” words to send little ones off to dreamland.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

Krisyna Litten’s illustrations, designed with a vintage-yet-modern air and color palette, are the perfect accompaniment to Berger’s story. Anyone would love to join Litten’s sweet Snuggleford and the other “great sleepers” at SnoozeFest. Snuggleford’s endearing slothy smile and the joyful camaraderie of the other festival goers invite kids to explore every page. The crowd consists of loveable moles, koalas, raccoons, bears, foxes, porcupines, and more adult and baby animals enjoying the show.  Two-page spreads of the darkened festival grounds lit by nightlights and starlight are gorgeous, peaceful landscapes of blues and gold that set a sleepy tone for little readers.

SnoozeFest would be a very welcome addition to any child’s bookshelf for story times and bed times, and would make a perfect gift.

Ages 3 – 7

Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2015 | ISBN 978-0803740464

You’ll have plenty of fun discovering lots of books, Nickelodeon videos, and more creative stuff by Samantha Berger on her website!

You can catch up with Krisyna Litten on her blog!

You won’t want to snooze through this book trailer!

International Pillow Fight Day Activity

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Perfect Pillow Case

 

Decorating your own pillow case gives you distinction during any pillow fight—and guarantees sweet dreams while sleeping too!

Supplies

  • White, or single-color pillow case
  • Fabric markers
  • Cardboard or newspaper

Directions

  1. Iron or smooth out the pillow case
  2. Insert cardboard or newspapers inside the pillow case to keep markers from bleeding through
  3. Design and color your pillow case with the markers

Picture Book Review

March 17 – World Sleep Day

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About the Holiday

Losing out on sleep can really put a crimp in your life. Not only does lack of sleep leave you feeling lethargic and bleary-eyed during the day, it can be detrimental to your overall health. For children sleep deprivation can affect how well they do in school and their behavior. World Sleep Day was established to bring awareness to the importance of sleep and to promote ways of improving sleep for all.

How to Put Your Parents to Bed

Written by Mylisa Larsen | Illustrated by Babette Cole

 

So here you are—night time. Bedtime, really, but you’re not tired. You still have enough energy to “scale a tall tower,” “sail savage seas,” or “paint a masterpiece,” but think about your poor parents. Look at them! They really need to go to bed! You know parents, though—“Parents are not good at going to bed. “‘I have to put in a load of laundry,’” they say. ‘I need to do the dishes.’ ‘Just one more email.’”

Someone needs to take charge, and the family feline—who has been a keen observer of the bedtime dynamics—thinks its pint-sized owner is just that “someone.” So the little girl, living in the midst of a chaotic night with her overscheduled, overworked parents, follows the cat’s pointed paw directions. She takes food out of her parents’ hands, closes the computer, and tells them “‘It’s time for bed.’” The first task is getting them to brush their teeth. The girl squeezes the toothpaste onto the brush and even helps her dad reach his molars.

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Image copyright Babette Cole, courtesy of babette-cole.com

Next, it’s time to make sure her parents dress in their pajamas. But Dad’s on the phone and Mom’s still watching TV. Ugh! First Mom and Dad wouldn’t go to bed, and now they’re falling asleep on the couch and floor! Their daughter keeps them moving in the right direction, though. Once they hit the bedroom, however, they get a second wind and become “unruly when faced with actually getting in bed. Tiny things upset them. They can work themselves into a state.” What to do? The girl remains calm and does not negotiate. Once Mom and Dad are tucked in, it’s story time. A tricky bit—do they only want their favorite story? How many?

At this point, the girl thinks she’s almost finished. But suddenly something unexpected comes up. Mom is missing her favorite pillow. Dad’s socks itch. And they both want to check on the dog. Oh brother! While the girl is handling these crises, her parents are starting a pillow fight! Phew! She gets them all tucked in, gives them each a kiss good night, and takes away their cell phones.

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Image copyright Babette Cole, courtesy of babette-cole.com

Finally, they are off to dream land, and the girl has some time for herself! But wait a minute…. The cat suggests she’s not exactly looking her best. In fact, she looks exhausted. Maybe, the frisky feline thinks, she needs to go to bed.

Mylisa Larsen’s funny role-reversal primer will have kids giggling and adults nodding appreciatively from Page 1 until The End. Speaking directly at readers, How to Put Your Parents to Bed offers sly winks at the many bedtime distractions of today’s families. The witty conspiratorial tone to the cat’s instructions gives kids a secret feeling of clout even while they may recognize their own behavior. And parents will wish they could still act this way at bedtime.

Rebecca Cole’s dynamic illustrations of the recalcitrant parents doing last-minute chores, stubbornly refusing to brush their teeth, jumping on the bed, and fooling with delaying tactics ramps up the hilarity of this bedtime how-to. Kids will want to linger over the pages to catch all the humorous details.

Ages 4 – 8

Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062320643

Visit Mylisa Larsen’s website to learn more about How to Put Your Parents to Bed and read her blog.

You can learn more about Babette Cole and the worlds she created on her website.

Get ready to laugh with the How to Put Your Parents to Bed book trailer!

World Sleep Day Activity

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Sleepy Time Word Search

 

Can you find the 15 sleep-related words in this printable, star-shaped Sleepy Time Word Search? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review

January 13 – It’s National Soup Month

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About the Holiday

Winter weather is made for soup…or…is soup made for winter weather? Either way, soup offers the warm, comforting, stick-to-your ribs meal that just seems so right as the temperatures dip. Today, grab a can or cook up a batch of your favorite soup and add a hearty loaf of sourdough or artisanal bread and have a feast!

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First Tomato: A Voyage to the Bunny Planet

By Rosemary Wells

 

The day is new—only 7:00 a.m. —and already Claire is having a tough time.  At breakfast she “ate only three spoons of cornflakes” before the bowl was knocked to the floor. While walking to school, Claire’s feet were soaked by snow, and “by eleven in the morning, math had been going on for two hours.” The cafeteria was serving baloney sandwiches—blecchh!—and at recess “Claire was the only girl not able to do a cartwheel.” At the end of school, all Claire wanted to do was go home, but she was left waiting…and waiting…and waiting at the bus stop.

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Image copyright Rosemary Wells, courtesy rosemarywells.com

After all the slights and disappointments, “Claire needs a visit to the Bunny Planet.” She closes her eyes and floats away…. “Far beyond the moon and stars, / Twenty light-years south of Mars, / Spins the gentle Bunny Planet / And the Bunny Queen is Janet.”

Janet ushers Claire into “the day that should have been.” Wafting on the warm winds Claire hears her mother’s voice: “pick me some runner beans and sugar snap peas. / Find a ripe tomato and bring it to me, please.” So early in the season, Claire finds only one red, ripe tomato on the vine. It “smells of rain and steamy earth and hot June sun” that tempts her to taste it, but she puts in her basket and gives it to her mother.

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Image copyright Rosemary Wells, courtesy rosemarywells.com

As her mother cooks, Claire sits at the cozy kitchen table shelling the peas. Soon, Claire’s mother brings her a steamy bowl of soup, and as they gaze at each other in understanding, Clair hears her “mother calling when the summer winds blow, / ‘I’ve made you First Tomato soup because I love you so.’”

Finally the bus arrives to take Claire home. During the ride she spies the Bunny Planet “near the evening star” and realizes that it was there all the time.

Today I chose a favorite book from when my own kids were little. One of three Voyage to the Bunny Planet books, Rosemary Wells’ First Tomato never failed to bring a little lump to my throat as I read it to my son and daughter (and even reading it again for this review, I felt the same catch in my heart).

In the difficulties that Claire suffers during the school day, kids will recognize the predicaments they also experience, and as Claire visits the Bunny Planet they’ll understand that solace is always close by. Claire’s sweet face and vintage dress as well as the lush details of the settings make each square illustration a masterpiece of expression and emotion. Wells’ beautiful turns of phrase and lyrical lines soothe the disquiet of real life with the balm of a parent’s or caregiver’s love, making First Tomato a wonderful book to share again and again.

All three Voyage to the Bunny Planet books—including The Island Light and Moss Pillows, two more enchanting and touching quiet-time reads—are available in a single-volume gift edition.

Ages 3 – 7

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2008 | ISBN 978-0670011032

To discover more about Rosemary Wells and her books, plus videos, games, coloring pages, information for parents and educators, and more, visit her website!

National Soup Month Activity

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Souper Maze!

 

You can’t eat soup without a spoon! Can you help the spoon get through the maze to the bowl in this printable Souper Maze? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

January 6 – Cuddle Up Day

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About the Holiday

As the cooler days of December turn into the colder days of January, Cuddle Up Day reminds us that snuggling up with someone you love warms us and warms our hearts. Children especially love the comfort and security that close hugs bring. Today, get your comfy clothes on, pour a mug of hot chocolate or tea, and cuddle up together with a good book!

You Belong to Me

By Mamoru Suzuki

 

The emotions of parents and other caregivers of children escape from the heart on the very first page of this gentle, spoken lullaby: “I love you so much.” On the second page, listeners discover why: “You are my favorite person in the whole world.” As the pages flow, the reader continues to reassure the child of the constancy of their love. Devotion is shown when the adult spends time with their child, watches out for them, and takes them to activities, play dates, and even, perhaps on flights of fancy.

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Image and text copyright Mamoru Suzuki, courtesy of Museyon Press

Through the words on the pages, the reader encourages the child to “come to me whenever you are lonely” or “whenever you can’t sleep” and promises that “I’ll hug you when you are sad.” Comfort comes in many forms—from drying tears to stroking hair—and from the many people who love the child.

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In fact, all of the people in the child’s life agree that “we all love you” and that they will be there “whenever,” “wherever,” and “however” the child needs them. But the deepest love of all is found in the heart of the reader who confirms “I love you most of all, because…you belong to me.”

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Mamoru Suzuki’s sweet hug of a book gives parents and caregivers the tender words that overflow in their hearts coupled with endearing illustrations of various animals nuzzling, snuggling, protecting, and comforting a small child. The mellow colors and chiffon texture of the images are at once soothing and stirring, wonderfully mirroring the mixture of emotions that make love for a child so profound.

You Belong to Me is a cuddle to keep on your child’s bookshelf for those times when you want to tell them how much you love them.

Ages birth – 5

Museyon, 2016 | ISBN 978-1940842127

Cuddle Up Day Activity

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Snuggle Buddy Craft

 

It’s easy to make your own snuggle buddy with a few pieces of fleece, some fiber fill, and a needle and thread or fabric glue. The great thing about creating your own friend is you can personalize your pal anyway you want!

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

January 3 – Festival of Sleep Day

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About the Holiday

After all the celebrating, we’re finally ready for some down time – and when I say down time, I mean sleep! That feeling of sinking into a deep slumber and waking refreshed the next morning is so comforting. And the opportunity to sleep in – or sleep all day? That’s luxury! To take full advantage of today’s holiday, jump in bed, pull up the covers and…Zzzzzzzzzz…

Henry & Leo

By Pamela Zagarenski

 

Ever since Henry was two, he and his stuffed lion, Leo, have been inseparable. “Perhaps it was his glass button eyes, which made him look as if he knew secret things” that made him so special and unlike Henry’s other toys. One Saturday Henry’s parents suggested a hike in the Nearby Woods. Henry was excited because he knew Leo would love the outing. Henry’s sister thought this idea was foolish, after all Leo wasn’t real, she said, and couldn’t love anything.

Henry didn’t care what his sister thought, and as they walked through the forest, he “could tell that Leo loved hearing the birds and finding the woodland animals as much as he did.” When evening began to fall, the family headed home, Henry riding on his father’s shoulders. At home, Henry discovered that Leo was missing. They looked everywhere, but Leo could not be found.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-henry-and-leo-henry-loves-leo

Image copyright Pamela Zagarenski, courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt

Papa promised that they would resume the hunt in the morning, but Henry worried. He knew Leo would want to be home with him tonight, and asked that a light be left on for him. Henry’s mother suggested that since Leo was only real in Henry’s imagination that he “‘imagine Leo tucked into a safe place.’” In the morning, she said, they would return to the Nearby Woods and find him.

In the darkness of his room, clutching a stuffed rabbit and fox, with a toy bear nearby, Henry thinks about Leo. He “knows that his family just didn’t understand what it truly meant to be real.” But Henry and Leo were best friends. They cared for each other. “That’s real.”

Meanwhile, in the Nearby Woods, a bear, a rabbit, and a fox discover Leo sitting at the base of a tree. With a twig, Leo sketches a house in the dirt, washed white in the gleam of the full moon. The rabbit produces a compass as the fox consults the stars. The foursome takes off down the path, watched over by owls and other night creatures. As the trip grows longer, Leo rides on the bear’s back. At last they reach the edge of the forest, and in the distance Leo points to a house bathed white in the moonlight.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-henry-and-leo-leo-loves-henry

Image copyright Pamela Zagarenski, courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt

With the dawning sun Henry and his family take up the search again. Suddenly, Henry spies Leo near the front door. “‘Leo!’” he shouts. His family sighs in relief, but his sister and father are both perplexed. They know they had “‘looked in that very spot last night.’” As Henry hugs Leo tightly, he whispers “‘You found home! I love you, Leo.’” And Leo whispers back, “‘I love you, too, Henry.’”

With her signature grace and lyricism. Pamela Zagarenski infuses her lost-toy story with the mystical imagination of childhood. As the title suggests, she presents the experience from both Henry’s and Leo’s perspectives, echoing the wonderful ability of young children to fully embrace and transfer their emotions, giving—and accepting—love from animate and inanimate objects equally. Zagarenski’s illustrations are glorious, with the richness of royalty—a motif that is carried through in the crowns that hover above and settle on the heads of Henry, his family, other toys, and the woodland animals. Children may enjoy discussing and interpreting the different crowns. The middle spreads of nighttime in the forest are wordless, allowing the animals to communicate in their own way and in a way children believe. Young readers will appreciate the gentle suspense and be satisfied with the correctness of Henry’s prediction as Leo finds his way home. Fans of Zagarenski’s work will notice familiar images, such as teapots, tea cups, and paper sailboats, scattered among the pages.

The beauty of Zagarenski’s art and her stardust magic of imagination make Henry & Leo an excellent choice for bedtime and quiet time reading, and would be an often-asked-for addition to children’s bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 7

Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt, 2016 | ISBN 978-0544648111

Festival of Sleep Day Activity

CPB - Pillowcase

Hand-painted Pillow Case

 

Designing your own pillow case is a fun and easy craft to do with kids. When finished the pillow case can be used for sleeping, can be stuffed with fiber fill and sewn to create a decorative pillow, or can make a storage bag for toys or other objects.

Supplies

  • 1 pillow case
  • Fabric paint or fabric markers in several colors
  • Fiber fill or foam pillow (optional)
  • Thread and needle (optional)

Directions

  1. Design an image for the pillow case
  2. With the fabric paint or markers create the design, let dry

To Make a Decorative Pillow

  1. Fill the pillow case with fiber fill or foam pillow
  2. Sew the open end closed with the thread and needle

Picture Book Review