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.

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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.

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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

December 31 – No Interruptions Day

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About the Holiday

Perhaps on this last day of the year you’re suffering from a little stimulation overload. Everywhere you go, it seems, there is something else begging for your attention, whether it’s flashing signs, sale advertisements, that chore you haven’t gotten to, or just coworkers, family members, or others wanting to say hi or needing help. On No Interruptions Day you’re allowed to take a little time for yourself to decompress and enjoy a bit of silence and relaxation. Sure, you can party later, but for now—Ahhhhh….

The Quiet Book

Written by Deborah Underwood | Illustrated by Renata Liwska

 

Quiet comes in many guises, for many reasons, and with many internal emotions attached to it. Each type of quiet is unique, compelling, and special. If you are lucky enough to enjoy a “first one awake quiet,” you have a bit of time to compose yourself for the day because you never know if you might experience “jelly side down quiet,” “thinking of a good reason you were drawing on the wall quiet,” or even “last one to get picked up from school quiet.”

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Image copyright Renata Liwska, text copyright Deborah Underwood. Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Suspense is full of quiet—like “hide-and-seek quiet,” “pretending you’re invisible quiet,” and bubbling “top of the roller coaster quiet.” There are times when quiet is required, for instance “sleeping sister quiet” and “right before you yell ‘SURPRISE!’ quiet.” Experiences in nature inspire quiet awe, like “swimming underwater quiet,” “first snowfall quiet,” and “don’t scare the robin quiet.”

Concentration, commiseration, and companionship all contain their own depth of quiet, and the end of the day brings comfortable moments of quiet in story time, tucking in time, bedtime kisses, and finally “sound asleep quiet.”

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Image copyright Renata Liwska, text copyright Deborah Underwood. Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In her sweet tribute to the wondrous moments of quiet, Deborah Underwood is always surprising. Her original examples of quiet times are both ingenious and familiar, lending depth, humor, and insight to those times of the day that may defy definition but are felt in the heart.  The Quiet Book is perfect for bedtime, but also for any time when quiet reigns. It’s a beautiful book for children who are more reflective and for whom quiet times are treasured.

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Image copyright Renata Liwska, text copyright Deborah Underwood. Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Renata Liwska’s soft, enchanting illustrations are as cuddly and comforting as a favorite blanket. Her little furry, spiky, and feathery animals navigate their day, experiencing those occasions of calm or turmoil with faces registering thoughtfulness, sadness, resignation, or cheer. Each page contains details, such as a bunny with an ear bandaged in solidarity with her friend who has a hurt tail and head, a bear holding a hiccupping rabbit upside down, and a cactus whose shadow is transformed into a monster, that will give even the youngest readers much to discover.

While the text on each page is sparse, the feelings they elicit are intimate and profound. Offering readers—both children and adults—much to discuss, The Quiet Book is a must for children’s home bookshelves.

Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2016 (paperback) | ISBN 978-0544809048

Discover the world of books by Deborah Underwood, including picture books, books for older readers, and nonfiction on her website!

View a gallery of picture book artwork by Renata Liwska on her website!

No Interruptions Day Activity

Quiet Time 

 

Finding opportunities to spend time in quiet contemplation or creativity is rejuvenating. Teaching children to appreciate down time and listen to their own thoughts is a gift that can bring them happiness and success that follows them into adulthood.

Today, set aside 15 minutes (or an appropriate amount of time for your child) and do one—or both—of these activities:

  1. You can do this with or without a piece of paper and pencil. Sit still and quietly in a place with no distractions and listen to what you hear. If you’d like write down the answers to these questions or just consider them:
  • What do you hear inside?
  • What do you hear coming from outside?
  • Can you tell how close or how far away the sound is?
  • In what way might you be a part of the sounds you hear?
  • Pick one sound and expand on its meaning
  1. Listen carefully to your own thoughts. What do you “hear” or “see”? On the paper draw or write whatever comes to mind, without changing it or erasing anything.

Picture Book Review

December 13 – National Day of the Horse

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About the Holiday

Established in 2004, today’s observance encourages people to remember the importance of horses to American history, culture, and character. Both wild and domesticated horses need our care and compassion. To celebrate consider volunteering at a facility that cares for horses, for an organization that uses horses in therapy programs for children or adults, or donating to the protection of wild horses.

Real Cowboys

Written by Kate Hoefler | Illustrated by Jonathan Bean

 

Real cowboys wake with the dawn’s light and are careful not to make too much noise for the people still sleeping in the “little houses in the hollow, and up the mountains, and at the edge of fields in the distance.” It is natural for the cowboys to think of others. Their job is to care for the herd; to help a stranded calf and their dog who is trying to lure it to safety; to soothe the herd when thunder rumbles overhead.

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Image copyright Jonathan Bean, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Real cowboys sing soft, slow songs to their cows to encourage them to continue moving when the path is narrow and dangerous and to sleep when coyotes howl in the night. Cowboys are good listeners—heeding the advice and warnings of the trail boss and other cowhands. “Sometimes they listen for trucks, and wolves, and rushing water. And sometimes they just listen to the big wide world and its grass song.” Along the way cowboys keep themselves safe with their wide-brimmed hats and leather chaps.

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Image copyright Jonathan Bean, text copyright Kate Hoefler. Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Because the cattle drive is long—lasting “for hours, or days, or weeks”—cowboys learn to be patient. “Even on a fast horse, they have to move with the slow rhythm of a herd….” When they need help, real cowboys don’t hesitate to ask, using hand and hat signals to alert other cowhands. “Real cowboys want peace. They don’t want stampedes, where all the cattle spook, and thunder over the earth, and scatter in dust storms.” Sometimes, however, this happens, and sometimes a few cattle and dogs are lost. Thinking of them when times are quiet, “real cowboys cry.”

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Image copyright Jonathan Bean, text copyright Kate Hoefler. Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

At night cowboys take turns eating and sleeping so there is always someone to watch over the herd. When they pack up camp and move on, real cowboys are mindful of the earth, and when they are far from home, inside themselves they can feel homesick, even if they look tough on the outside. “Real cowboys are as many different colors as the earth. Real cowboys are girls too.” In their hearts “real cowboys are artists,” creating stories that are bigger than the wide open prairie. “They wonder what’s past the horizon. And one day, when their work is done, real cowboys find out.”

Kate Hoefler’s moving tribute to cowboys and cowgirls demonstrates the qualities of kindness, thoughtfulness, and mindfulness that we want to share with our children. With lyrical language she follows cowboys on a cattle drive, where they experience the joys and sorrows that life entails for all. Hoefler’s pacing echoes the day-to-day movement of the herd as well as readers’ daily life. Delving into the responsibilities and characteristics of these men and women is a unique way to open the world to children and promote discussions about the traits of caring individuals.

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Image copyright Jonathan Bean, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Jonathan Bean’s hand-stenciled illustrations printed in four Pantone colors are particularly effective in portraying the life of the cowboys and cowgirls entrusted with herds of cattle. Early morning dawns to rose skies that color even the horses and reflect in the drinking trough. Cattle, obscured by dust raised on the trail, form the backdrop to a cowboy worriedly watching his dog coax a calf from a cliff, and afternoon turns to night in a two-page spread where a cow nuzzles her calf as it sleeps. Depictions of the enormity of the herd traveling from one place to another amid sweltering days, rain storms, and blizzards are beautifully rendered, and the emotions of the cowboys are clearly discernable and touching.

Real Cowboys is stunning in both language and illustrations. For quiet story times, bedtime, or times for reflection and inspiration, this book would make an excellent addition to children’s bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 7

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016 | ISBN 978-0544148925

To view a gallery of illustration by Jonathan Bean, visit his website!

National Day of the Horse Activity

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Galloping Horse Coloring Page

 

A horse running at top speed is a beautiful sight! Enjoy this printable Galloping Horse Coloring Page—would you be riding?

Picture Book Review

November 30 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

During the month of November we’ve celebrated picture books—those wonderful stories and works of art that open the world to children and adults in surprising and amazing ways. Creating home libraries for children as well as reading together every day is an important part of improving language development and literacy. The close bond formed between parents and other caregivers and children during quiet or boisterous reading times last a lifetime. If you have young children or even older kids who love the beauty of picture books, make every month Picture Book Month!

Owl Sees Owl

Written by Laura Godwin | Illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

 

An adorable baby owl, wide awake in the full moonlight while its family sleeps, gazes out from its nest in a tree at the surrounding forest. The night is filled with “Home / Mama / Brother / Sister.” The little owl ventures out onto a sturdy limb. It knows “Tree / Nest / Hop / Look.” From its perch with a “Jump / Flutter / Flap / Fly” the owlet soars through the deep blue sky, its white face shining like the stars. It floats over autumn leaves while in the “Moon / Beam / Eyes / Gleam.”

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Down below other nocturnal animals have come out to play. On the farm the barn is quiet and dark while someone is stirring in the house. The baby owl passes them by with a “Soar / Glide / Swoop / Swoosh.” Something glistens in the midst of the forest, and the owl descends to investigate. “Owl… / Sees / Owl” in the rippled rings of the small pond.

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Image copyright Laura Godwin, courtesy of Rob Dunlavey, robd.com

After a moment the owlet takes off with a quick “Swoosh / Swoop / Glide / Soar,” reversing its nighttime flight. Once more the curious baby passes over the star- and moonlit field, feeling bolder: “Scamper / Mice / Twinkle / Stars.” Deer perk up their ears and stare alert to the nearly silent woosh of the owl’s wings above. “Yellow / Red / Leaves / Fall as the owl zooms with a “Fly / Flap / Flutter / Jump toward “Sister / Brother / Mama / Home,” where Mama waits wide awake.

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Image copyright Laura Godwin, courtesy of Rob Dunlavey, robd.com

Inspired by reverso poetry, Laura Godwin’s lovely Owl Sees Owl is a language- and emotionally rich story to share with young children. With only four words per two-page spread, Godwin tells the detailed adventure of an inquisitive baby owl who leaves home for a nighttime caper through woods and over farmland to a pond where it sees itself reflected in the mirror-like surface. In a minute the owl is back in the air for the trip home, reversing its path and also the order of the words. Godwin’s dynamic, lyrical words are joyful to read and allow for readers to linger over each page and talk about what they see, what the little owl is doing, and even whether a sentence such as “Fall / Leaves / Red / Yellow” is active or descriptive. The reverse nature of the story brings the baby owl’s adventure to a sweet, satisfying conclusion that children will love.

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Image copyright Laura Godwin, courtesy of Rob Dunlavey, robd.com

Rob Dunlavey’s illustrations transfer the most beautiful clear, moonlit night to the page, creating a perfect quiet time or bedtime book for young children. The lush, dark woods rendered in deep olives, rusts, browns, grays, and blacks as well as the indigo sky highlight the gleaming moon, twinkling stars, and white feathers of the owl. In one spread deer appear in silhouette in the background as mice scamper over pumpkins in the foreground; in another fiery red, yellow, and orange autumn leaves make a spectacular backdrop to the owl’s outstretched wings. The central spread in which the owl sees its own reflection offers readers much to talk about. Is the owl startled? Wondering? Happy? Is the owlet going home for comfort or to tell of its amazing discovery? Kids will love lingering over each page to think and talk about all that is there.

Owl Sees Owl makes a wonderful gift for young children or children who love poetry and art. The book would be a welcome and often read addition to home libraries.

Ages 2 – 7

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553497823

To see a gallery of illustration work for picture books, nature sketches, and other artwork by Rob Dunlavey, visit his website!

Picture Book Month Activity

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Barn Owl Coloring Page

 

This little guy looks ready for an adventure! Grab your pencils or crayons, color this printable cute Barn Owl Coloring Page, and give him a background to start his journey!

Picture Book Review

October 20 – International Sloth Day

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About the Holiday

The AIUNAU, a non-profit dedicated to protecting all wildlife, established International Sloth Day in 2010 to raise awareness of the dangers facing these seemingly always smiling, gentle animals. With three species already extinct, sloths need protection from power lines, cars, and those who would capture them as pets as well as from other environmental issues that decrease their habitats. While sloths may not be found in your neck of the woods, concern for all wildlife is an important part of being a global citizen.

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 as well as 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 Sloth Day Activity

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Sweet Sloth Coloring Page

 

 

Sloths are sweet, gentle animals who love to hang out. Give the little one in this printable Sweet Sloth Activity Page a colorful world and put it up in your room!

Picture Book Review

September 30 – International Translation Day

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About the Holiday

Established in 1953 by the International Federation of Translators, today’s holiday celebrates the translators in every language who work to break down barriers and bring great literature to all people across the globe. Everyone’s story matters, and it is through access to a wide range of books that readers acquire deeper understanding of the commonalities and unique experiences that make us all citizens of the world. For children in bilingual and multicultural homes the ability to read and hear books in their native tongue as well as their adopted language is especially comforting and promotes greater literacy and language learning. With eight bilingual editions available, today’s book is a great example of the importance of translators’ work!

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-harbor-seals

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

From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopi, 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.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-all-ocean-creatures

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. 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.

One might imagine that in addition to “Good night” Little Otter’s nightly repertoire includes the request to be told all the names of the fish and sea animals, just as children love to look through pictures of family and friends and learn their names. 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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-spanish-translation

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

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.

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. 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.

Translations

Star Bright Books also publishes Good Night, Little Sea Otter in eight bilingual editions. For information on each click on the links below:

Arabic/English | Burmese/English | Burmese Karen/English | French/English | Hmong/EnglishNavajo/English | Portuguese/English | Spanish/English

Ages 2 – 6

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

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

International Translation Day Activity

We Are All Family English/Spanish Word Search

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-are-all-family-word-search

Find the names of family members in both English and Spanish in this printable heart- shaped We Are All Family Word Search! Here’s the Solution!

 

Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sleep-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