December 22 – National Cookie Exchange Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-christmas-cookie-day-cover-2

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday got its start during the Middle Ages, when spices and dried fruit were becoming popular additions to baked goods. These ingredients were expensive, however, and most families could only afford to bake cookies at the holidays. To celebrate, they held parties to share and appreciate these delicious treats. This tradition lives on in today’s cookie exchanges. To celebrate, organize your own cookie exchange or simply share your favorite cookies with your friends and family members.

Christmas Cookie Day!

Written by Tara Knudson | Illustrated by Pauline Siewert

 

Mama bear and her little bear get ready for one of the most fun days of the year. “Cooke day, / Time to bake. / Aprons on, / Lots to make!” The little one cracks an egg into the bowl while the butter, flour, and sugar wait their turn. Mom pours warm melted butter and lets her little bear stir it into dough.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-christmas-cookie-day-stirring

Image copyright Pauline Siewert, 2018, text copyright Tara Knudson, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

With the dough rolled smooth, it’s time to use the cookie cutters to make…”Christmas tree, / Reindeer, bell. / Snowman, star, / Cookie smell.” The pair add angels, candy canes, and drummer boys before sliding the tray into the oven and watching them bake. At last the timer rings but they still must wait. Finally “ready, set… / Decorate!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-christmas-cookie-day-cookie-shapes

Image copyright Pauline Siewert, 2018, text copyright Tara Knudson, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

It’s so much fun spreading the frosting and shaking out sprinkles to create green trees, yellow stars, and red-and-white striped candy canes. Even the bakers can’t resist nibbling a few. But not too many, because these are special “cookie gifts. / Made with care. / Pack them up, / Cooke share!” It’s time to invite friends and family for a yearly treat—“Christmastime, / Spirits bright. / Family hugs, / Cookie night.”

A delectable Christmas Cookie Day Recipe follows the story for all little bakers to try.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-christmas-cookie-day-into-oven

Image copyright Pauline Siewert, 2018, text copyright Tara Knudson, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Tara Knudson’s jaunty rhyming story captures all the giddy anticipation and fun of a day baking Christmas cookies. Short, lively verses follow Mom and her cub step-by-step as they make and decorate special treats for their annual cookie party and invite little ones to join in on repeat readings. Knudson delights in the enjoyment Mom and her little one feel during their day of baking and goes on to celebrate the deeper meaning and joy of Christmas as the two wrap up their cookies and give them to family and friends.

With tender smiles for each other, Pauline Siewert’s Mama bear and her cub spend a snowy day baking cookies in their cozy kitchen accompanied by a helpful mouse. Siewert’s vibrant colors mirror the cheerful companionship mother and child share on this much-loved day, and her engaging details, like a dusting of flour on the cub’s nose, will charm children. A double-spread scattering of the cookies the two make give little ones a chance to show their knowledge of shapes and Christmastime figures. The heartwarming final scene of the cookie party might just inspire a party of your own. Little ones will also be enchanted by the sparkly cover that opens this adorable book.

The absence of personal pronouns and a red apron for the little cub make Christmas Cookie Day! gender neutral.

A sweet story to spark a fun family tradition and share the joy of giving, Christmas Cookie Day! makes an endearing addition to a child’s home library.

Ages 2 – 6

Zonderkidz, 2018 | ISBN 978-0310762898

Discover more about Tara Knudson, her books, and her other writing for children on her website.

You can connect with Pauline Siewert on Instagram.

Meet Tara Knudson

CPB - Tara Knudson Interview - head shot

I’m excited to be talking today with Tara Knudson about her sweet book, her favorite cookie, and how being a teacher inspires her work.

Christmas Cookie Day has such a joyous feeling. Do you have any special memories of baking with your family when you were a child?  What is your favorite kind of cookie?

I’m so glad that you think CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY has such a joyous feeling! The story evokes happy memories of baking Christmas cookies with my mom and sisters when I was a child. I remember gathering the cookie cutters from the cabinet, excited to get started! We all stood around the kitchen table and decorated our cookies with sprinkles, frosting, and candy pieces. It was so fun!

CPB - Tara Knudson Interview - decorating cookies

While I do enjoy eating Christmas sugar cookies, my favorite kind of cookie is chocolate chip, especially ones with dark chocolate chips and a little salt. Yum!

As a regular contributor to children’s magazines like Highlights Hello, Highlights High Five, Baby Bug, and Ladybug, you write stories and poetry for the youngest readers, what do you like about writing for this age? What are a few of the most important ingredients in stories for little ones?

I love writing for little ones because they are so curious about everything in the world around them—sights, smells, sounds, tastes, new experiences, and people. They take it all in as they learn, develop, and grow. I like to be a part of that.

My poems and stories for this age group often include short and simple sentences with some fun words added that young readers may not be familiar with.

You’ve said that you loved to write even as a child. Can you describe your journey to becoming a published writer?

My journey as a writer has been a long one. I still have my creative writing stories from second grade. Reading them now makes me laugh! Growing up, the stories were always special to me, but I did not know yet that I wanted to be a writer.

CPB - Tara Knudson Interview - school writing folder

I started writing poetry when I was in high school. As I dealt with the problems and frustrations that adolescence can bring, I often wrote poems to express my feelings. After college, I became a Spanish teacher and I often used children’s picture books in the          classroom. I would spend hours at bookstores searching for favorite ones. It was during that time that I fell in love with picture books and decided that I wanted to write them.

In pursuit of my goal, I won a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship that allowed me to take a break from my teaching job and live in Barcelona, Spain for a year and experiment with writing for children. I wrote many poems and rhyming stories for children. I continued to write after my return to the U.S. As years passed, I sold articles and poems to children’s magazines and continued to work on my picture book manuscripts as I worked as a teacher and later took care of my two sons. Finally, I signed with an agent who helped me sell my first book.

Can you talk a little about your work as a teacher? How do your experiences influence your work?

My teaching background is unique because I have taught different subjects to students of many ages. I started my teaching career as a high school Spanish teacher. Then, while in Barcelona, I taught English to middle school students. Upon my return to the U.S., I taught Spanish to grades K-2 and then math to grades 1-4. 

Whichever subject I teach, and to whichever grade level, there is always something for me to gain as a writer when I work with students. Whether it be from something that happens in the classroom or something that a student says that sparks a writing idea, being around children gets my creative juices flowing! I hope to get back in the classroom soon.

What’s up next for you?

My next book, EASTER EGG DAY, will be released in February, 2020. Also, I’m happy to announce that a third book in my holiday board book series will follow. I will share details about that book soon. I have plenty of non-holiday projects as well that I hope will make their way into the world in the near future.

What’s your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love the excitement that leads up to it, the beautiful decorations, the spirit of giving, and the true meaning of the season. It’s such a magical and joyous time for people of all ages filled with traditions and love. I’m so happy that CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY can be a part of it all!

CPB - Tara Knudson Interview - making cookies

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Tara! I wish you a wonderful holiday and much success with all of your writing!

You can connect with Tara Knudson on

Her website | Instagram | Twitter  

National Cookie Exchange Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-kids-craft

Gingerbread Kids Ornaments

 

All cookies don’t have to be edible! With this easy craft children can make gingerbread kid ornaments to decorate your tree or windows or to give to family and friends!

Supplies

  • Printable Gingerbread Girl and Boy Template
  • 2 Brown foam sheets
  • White paint (or any color you like)
  • Glitter in two colors
  • Paint brush
  • 2 Small heart buttons (optional)
  • Mounting squares (for mounting)
  • Thread  and needle (for optional hanging)

Directions

  1. Trace gingerbread kid templates on brown foam sheets and cut out
  2. Paint around the edges with the white paint then add trim to the edge of the dress and the top of the socks 
  3. Add buttons
  4. Add faces
  5. Paint the hands of each figure then sprinkle glitter over the wet paint to make mittens
  6. To use as decoration, attach mountable squares. To use as an ornament, use a threaded needle to make a hole in the top of each figure and tie the thread to create a hanger.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-christmas-cookie-day-cover-2

You can find Christmas Cookie Day at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

December 9 – National Llama Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-cover

About the Holiday

Today we celebrate the llama, that South American long-necked animal in the camel family that has traditionally served as a pack animal and provides both wool and meat. Because of their spirited personality and high cuteness factor, llamas make perfect companions for holiday cheer. To celebrate today, lliven up your holidays with today’s book! And be sure to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of this new holiday favorite! You’ll find the details below.

Fa-La-La Llama

Written by Joan Holub | Illustrated by Allison Black

 

Sure, kids can celebrate Christmas with Santa and elves and reindeer, but wouldn’t it be even more fun to party with llamas? Wild and wooly, llamas lend a cheery vivaciousness to the holidays with their fashion sense, their decorating savvy, and their beautiful singing voices—really!

What do I mean? Well, let’s pick a favorite Christmas song—say, “Deck the Halls” with its catchy chorus. You and the kiddos probably sing it this way: “Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Fa la la la la la la la la!” But the sleighful of llamas gathered together in Joan Holub’s board book sing it this way: “Decorate our hats with holly. Fa la la la la la la Llama.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-hats

Image copyright Allison Black, 2021, text copyright Joan Holub, 2021. Courtesy of Cartwheel Books.

But these festive llamas aren’t just dressing up for the holidays, they’re going caroling, dancing under a disco ball in silly pants, and ice skating on the pond. How do these lovely llamas keep their hooves from freezing? “Mittens warm in snowy weather. Fa la la la la la la Llama.” And how about gifts? Sure! These llamas are adept at “Juggling presents all together. Fa la la la la la la Llama.”

With all the preparations complete, the hot cocoa poured, and a fire crackling in the hearth, there’s only one thing left to do—and that is to say (or sing), “Merry Christmas! Cozy good cheer. Fa la la la la la la Llama. / Wishing you a Happy New Year! Fa la la la la la la Llaaamaaa!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-dancing

Image copyright Allison Black, 2021, text copyright Joan Holub, 2021. Courtesy of Cartwheel Books.

Get ready to giggle and “La-la-llaaamaaa” with your little ones in Joan Holub’s effervescent take on a favorite holiday song that also includes touch-and-feel elements that begin right on the front cover, where a shiny ribbed foil evergreen is about to be turned into a Christmas tree. Opening the cover, little ones find that a white Christmas is assured as textured glittery snowflakes fall on a cheerful, pink llama. Other enticing treats include a pink tulle tutu ice-skating skirt, a silver rippled foil-wrapped present, and a sparkly bowtie of netting, foil, and glitter. Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa, and he’s here too with a soft and wooly beard to tickle tykes’ fingertips—and fancy!

If you’re looking for a fun, infectious holiday story to share with your little one, you’ve found it! Joan Holub’s catchy rendition of “Deck the Halls” for the youngest readers is sure to have the whole family “Fa la la la la la la Llama-ing” as you decorate the tree, wrap gifts, bake cookies, and, of course, sing carols. Holub’s word choices make the verses easy for kids to remember, inviting them to read or sing (it’s impossible to resist singing!) along.

Allison Black’s adorable llamas decked out in winter’s most cozy hats, scarves, mittens, and sweaters can’t help but make you smile. Their enthusiasm for the season mirrors children’s own excitement, and their holiday activities will be familiar to kids as well. Black’s vibrant backgrounds, colorful fa-la-las, organically integrated touch-and-feel surprises, and sprinkling of humor make this a book little readers will want to put on repeat.

A perfect pre-holiday or advent gift, joyful story time read, or Christmas day stocking stuffer, Fa-La-La Llama is sure to be a hit with little ones and their grown-ups and is a must for any young child’s holiday board book collection at home, school, or public libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Cartwheel Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1338681475

Discover more about Joan Holub and her books on her website.

To learn more about Allison Black, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Fa-la-la Llama Giveaway

Fa-La-La Llama Giveaway Picture

I’m thrilled to be teaming with author Joan Holub in a giveaway of this adorable interactive holiday book, illustrated by Allison Black. One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • One (1) copy of Fa-la-la Llama signed by Joan Holub
  • One festive llama pillow

Two lucky winners will receive:

  • One (1) copy of Fa-la-la Llama signed by Joan Holub

To Enter

This giveaway is open from December 9 to December 12 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on December 13. 

Prizing provided by Joan Holub

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

National Llama Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-llama-coloring-page-2

Dress Up Llama Coloring Page

 

This cute llama wants to dress up for the holidays! Just download and print to add a scarf, hat, sweater and all the trappings of winter! And don’t forget to add some glittery snow to the scene!

Dress Up Llama Coloring Page

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-cover

You can find Fa-La-La Llama at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 11 – Get Ready for Christmas

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-cover

About the Holiday

Christmas is coming with all of the treats that go with it – including new holiday books to share! Toddlers and preschoolers love to be involved in all the preparations, decorating, and baking, and they love having their own books to snuggle up with as the weather turns chilly and the excitement grows. Today’s book will get kids and adults in the spirit of the holiday!

Fa-La-La Llama

Written by Joan Holub | Illustrated by Allison Black

 

Sure, kids can celebrate Christmas with Santa and elves and reindeer, but wouldn’t it be even more fun to party with llamas? Wild and wooly, llamas lend a cheery vivaciousness to the holidays with their fashion sense, their decorating savvy, and their beautiful singing voices—really!

What do I mean? Well, let’s pick a favorite Christmas song—say, “Deck the Halls” with its catchy chorus. You and the kiddos probably sing it this way: “Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Fa la la la la la la la la!” But the sleighful of llamas gathered together in Joan Holub’s board book sing it this way: “Decorate our hats with holly. Fa la la la la la la Llama.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-hats

Image copyright Allison Black, 2021, text copyright Joan Holub, 2021. Courtesy of Cartwheel Books.

But these festive llamas aren’t just dressing up for the holidays, they’re going caroling, dancing under a disco ball in silly pants, and ice skating on the pond. How do these lovely llamas keep their hooves from freezing? “Mittens warm in snowy weather. Fa la la la la la la Llama.” And how about gifts? Sure! These llamas are adept at “Juggling presents all together. Fa la la la la la la Llama.”

With all the preparations complete, the hot cocoa poured, and a fire crackling in the hearth, there’s only one thing left to do—and that is to say (or sing), “Merry Christmas! Cozy good cheer. Fa la la la la la la Llama. / Wishing you a Happy New Year! Fa la la la la la la Llaaamaaa!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-dancing

Image copyright Allison Black, 2021, text copyright Joan Holub, 2021. Courtesy of Cartwheel Books.

Get ready to giggle and “La-la-llaaamaaa” with your little ones in Joan Holub’s effervescent take on a favorite holiday song that also includes touch-and-feel elements that begin right on the front cover, where a shiny ribbed foil evergreen is about to be turned into a Christmas tree. Opening the cover, little ones find that a white Christmas is assured as textured glittery snowflakes fall on a cheerful, pink llama. Other enticing treats include a pink tulle tutu ice-skating skirt, a silver rippled foil-wrapped present, and a sparkly bowtie of netting, foil, and glitter. Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa, and he’s here too with a soft and wooly beard to tickle tykes’ fingertips—and fancy!

If you’re looking for a fun, infectious holiday story to share with your little one, you’ve found it! Joan Holub’s catchy rendition of “Deck the Halls” for the youngest readers is sure to have the whole family “Fa la la la la la la Llama-ing” as you decorate the tree, wrap gifts, bake cookies, and, of course, sing carols. Holub’s word choices make the verses easy for kids to remember, inviting them to read or sing (it’s impossible to resist singing!) along.

Allison Black’s adorable llamas decked out in winter’s most cozy hats, scarves, mittens, and sweaters can’t help but make you smile. Their enthusiasm for the season mirrors children’s own excitement, and their holiday activities will be familiar to kids as well. Black’s vibrant backgrounds, colorful fa-la-las, organically integrated touch-and-feel surprises, and sprinkling of humor make this a book little readers will want to put on repeat.

A perfect pre-holiday or advent gift, joyful story time read, or Christmas day stocking stuffer, Fa-La-La Llama is sure to be a hit with little ones and their grown-ups and is a must for any young child’s holiday board book collection at home, school, or public libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Cartwheel Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1338681475

Discover more about Joan Holub and her books on her website.

To learn more about Allison Black, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Get Ready for Christmas Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-kids-craft

Gingerbread Kids Decorations 

 

Way back when gingerbread was new, it was creatively iced and used to decorate windows! Kids can make gingerbread decorations for their home, room, or as gifts without any baking at all with this easy craft!

Supplies

  • Printable Gingerbread Girl and Boy Template or gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters
  • 2 Brown foam sheets
  • White paint (or any color you like)
  • Glitter in two colors
  • Paint brush
  • 2 Small heart buttons (optional)
  • Mounting squares (for mounting)
  • Thread  and needle (for optional hanging)

Directions

  1. Cut out gingerbread girl and boy or use cookie cutters
  2. Trace gingerbread girl and boy on brown foam sheets
  3. Cut out gingerbread girl and boy
  4. Paint around the edge of the gingerbread boy and girl with the white paint
  5. Add trim to the edge of the gingerbread girl’s dress
  6. Add socks to the gingerbread boy
  7. Add buttons
  8. Add faces
  9. Paint the hands of each figure with the paint
  10. Sprinkle glitter on the hands to make mittens
  11. To use as decoration attach mountable squares or with a threaded needle make a hole in the top of the figures and tie the thread to create a hanger.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fa-la-la-llama-cover

You can find Fa-La-La Llama at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 3 – It’s Family Literacy Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-odd-beasts-cover

About the Holiday

National Family Literacy Month was designed to encourage parents and other adults to read together with the children in their life. Studies show that children who are read to are better prepared to read on their own and do better in school. Cuddling together before bedtime or during special story times with favorite books instills a love of reading that can last a lifetime. To celebrate, plan some special reading-related activities: take a trip to a local bookstore and let your child pick a book; if your child is old enough, visit the library to sign up for a library card; and schedule extra reading time, especially with grandparents or other family members who may be visiting for the holidays. A fun and educational board book like today’s book is a perfect way to get little ones enthusiastic about reading as they grow older!

Thank you to Abrams Appleseed and Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for sharing Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals with me for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own.

Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals

Written by Laura Gehl | Illustrated by Gareth Lucas

 

From their earliest years, kids are attracted to animals, whether for their fluffy coats, enthusiastic “kisses,” or silly antics. They love visiting the zoo and the aquarium to see – and maybe even touch – animals and sea creatures from around the world. And they’re always excited to meet new animals through the books they read. Through an age-appropriate short, charming poem played out over eight boldly illustrated pages, Laura Gehl does just that, introducing kids to a few of the earth’s most unusual animals. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-odd-beasts-sunfish

Image copyright Gareth Lucas, 2021, text copyright Laura Gehl, 2021. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

Gehl begins with an animal from Asia and Africa that at first glance might appear like an unlikely combination of an anteater and a fish – the pangolin! Turning the page, readers do meet a fish – and what a fish! “This sunfish weighs a ton.” Another ocean dweller is introduced two pages later: “This angler sees no sun.” Readers will be equally charmed by a turtle whose “neck is long,” and a clever camouflaged insect whose “jumps are strong.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-odd-beasts-angler

Image copyright Gareth Lucas, 2021, text copyright Laura Gehl, 2021. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

In addition to these three quirky creatures, kids get to know a glass frog, a long-horned orb-weaver spider, and a bush baby. Then Gehl tickles kids’ funny bone with a surprising perspective about how beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Following her lyrical pages, Gehl presents readers with a factual paragraph about each critter that reveals more about the trait that makes them so unusual and where they live. These descriptions are accompanied by a full-color photograph of the animal so kids can get a close-up view of nature’s amazing adaptations.

For young nature-lovers in the making, Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals is an engaging way to introduce them to a few creatures from around the world that will whet their appetite for more discovery. The book would be a much-read addition to home, classroom, and school and public library bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 4

Abrams Appleseed, 2021 | ISBN 978-1419742224

Discover more about Laura Gehl and her books on her website.

You can connect with Gareth Lucas on Instagram and Twitter

Family Literacy Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-odd-beasts-laura-gehl-coloring-pages-turtle

Odd Beasts Coloring Pages

 

These odd beasts could use some color! Download and print these three coloring sheets from Laura Gehl’s website!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-odd-beasts-cover

You can find Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

October 27 – National Black Cat Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-black-cat-white-cat-cover

About the Holiday

Sure, there’s that superstition about having bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, and it’s fun to indulge it and feel a little scared around Halloween, but, really, black cats are just like other cats. They’re beautiful, sleek, stealthy, and have lots of love to give—or not (they are cats, after all). If you are thinking of adopting a cat into your home, consider choosing a black cat. Because of the superstition, they are less likely to be adopted from shelters, leaving many precious kitties without families.

Black Cat, White Cat

By Silvia Borando

 

“Ever since he was a kitten, Black Cat has been entirely black….from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.” White cat is entirely white “from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail.” Black Cat likes to roam during the day and watch the black swallows swoop through the sky. White Cat prefers nighttime when the twinkling stars gleam.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-black-cat-white-cat-dayt

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Black cat becomes curious about the night, though, and asks his friend Blackbird what he could see in the darkened sky. Blackbird doesn’t know because he is asleep in his nest during the night. Blackbird suggests that Black Cat go out when the sun goes down and “see what you can see.” At the same time White Cat wonders what the daytime holds. She asks her friend Snowy Owl, but Snowy Owl doesn’t know because she is always asleep by the time the sun comes up. Snowy Owl suggests White Cat go out during the day and “see what she can see.”

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

With good wishes from their friends, both Black Cat and White Cat head off on their new adventures, and somewhere between day and night, Black Cat meets White Cat. They tell each other where they are going and invite the other along with them. They agree, and so “White Cat takes Black Cat to discover the night.” Then Black Cat introduces White Cat to the day.

“The night is full of wonder. ‘Purr, purrrr, look at those glittery, fluttery fireflies,’” Black Cat says. “And the day is full of surprise. ‘Meow, look at those busy, buzzy bumblebees,’”  White Cat exclaims. Black Cat shows White Cat all of his favorite daytime things, such as “daisies, doves, and butterflies…” while White Cat dishes up the most delicious nighttime goodies—“snakes, bats, and mice.”

From then on Black Cat and White Cat are inseparable whether it’s daytime or nighttime. “So inseparable, in fact, that they have one, two, three, four, five, SIX… KITTENS! And can you guess what color they are? Orange!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-black-cat-white-cat-together

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

In her adorable book that proves opposites really do attract, Silvia Borando presents two cute cats that live in only half the world until their curiosity and friendship broaden their horizons. Borando’s gentle, lyrical language elevates this concept book to include the ideas that treasures can be found outside one’s comfort zone and that mutual sharing of one’s life and favorite things leads to strong relationships–even magic and sometimes the seemingly impossible! The soft curves of the figures and stark white-on-black and black-on-white pages make for striking illustrations that will delight even the youngest child.  The final spread of the six orange kittens will delight little readers.

Wonderful for story time or bedtime, Black Cat, White Cat is a sweet addition to home libraries for young readers.

Ages birth – 5

Candlewick, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763681067 (Hardcover) | ISBN 978-1536216035 (Board Book, 2020)

Whether it’s day or night, watch this Black Cat, White Cat book trailer!

National Black Cat Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-black-cat-match-up

Black Cat Match-Up

 

You won’t mind if these cute kitties cross your path! They’re just looking for their twin. Can you help match them up in this printable puzzle?

Black Cat Match-Up Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-black-cat-white-cat-cover

You can find Black Cat, White Cat at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 15 – Celebrate Fall

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-c-is-for-city-cover

About the Holiday

With the onset of autumn, people love to get outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather, the colorful trees, empty beaches, and the wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables available at farmers markets. From corn mazes to arts-and-crafts shows, agricultural fairs to pick-your-own orchards, museums to favorite shops and cafes, there’s so much to do! With today’s books you and your little ones can enjoy exploring with the ABCs—why not turn your next outing into a game with these fun take-along board books?!

Thank you to Familius for sharing a copy of C Is for City and F Is for Farm with me for review consideration. All opinions on the books are my own.

C Is for City: A City ABC Primer

Written by Ashley Mireles | Illustrated by Volha Kaliaha

 

A walk through any city is full of new or favorite sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. Ashley Mireles has collected twenty-six of these to keep little ones looking and learning as they explore whether at home or while visiting. If you’re sharing this book with your little one, they’re probably well acquainted with the entry at B! For all book lovers “B is for bookstore,” of course! Kids fascinated with big trucks will want to take a drive or walk to find the building that represents F—the Fire Station. Everybody hungry? Offer kids a trip to G or I and see which they pick. Do they figure out that “G is for grocery store” and “I is for ice cream shop?” Some of the most charming architecture in a city come in small packages. That’s why “K is for kiosk.” Why not stop by and see what’s for sale?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-c-is-for-city-airport

Image copyright Volha Kaliaha, 2021, text copyright Ashley Mireles, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

With all the exhibits, hands-on displays, and maybe even a dino or two, no child (or adult) wants to pass up a trip to M! That’s right! When you open the doors to the museum, you open your child’s imagination to all that’s possible! Perhaps, you just have to run some errands. Those are perfect for seeking out the alphabet too! Need to go to mail a package, get your car fixed, or get a haircut?  You’ll be visiting the places at P, R, and S! Ready for some more fun after all of those? You know where to head—the last page, because “Z is for Zoo.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-c-is-for-city-emporium

Image copyright Volha Kaliaha, 2021, text copyright Ashley Mireles, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

Ashley Mireles has chosen a wide range of familiar city landmarks, shops, and buildings that little ones will have fun pointing out as they walk, drive, or speed past on the subway. Each letter is represented with a simple sentence that invites adults and kids to examine Volha Kaliaha’s illustrations or use their memory to talk about other things the letter may stand for or other items, workers, or experiences associated with each place. The repeated phrasing makes this an excellent “read along” or primer for new readers.

Volha Kaliaha represents each letter with charming, colorful images that will get kids talking and searching their neighborhood and their home for examples of each alphabetic letter. Her clean lines and winsome details give adults plenty of opportunities to prompt children to find items that begin with letters other than the featured one, making this nicely sized board book perfect for growing vocabularies and language awareness.

Bright, engaging, and just right for little hands, C Is for City offers lots to love for young learners and is sure to become a favorite on home, classroom, and library bookshelves.

Ages Baby – 3

Familus, 2021 | ISBN 978-1641704533

You can connect with Volha Kaliaha on Instagram.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-c-is-for-city-cover

You can buy C Is for City on the Familius website.

 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-f-is-for-farm-cover

F Is for Farm: A Farming ABC Primer

Written by Ashley Mireles | Illustrated by Volha Kaliaha

 

Yeehaw! Little ones are off to the farm in this alphabetic collection of animals, buildings, food, and equipment they’d find out in the country. Ask any child to name a farm animal or two, and they’re sure to shout out the favorites at C (cow), D (ducks), and R (rooster). And how about the delicious foods that farmers provide? Well, “J is for jam,” “M is for milk,” and “X is for ximenia.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-f-is-for-farm-barn

Image copyright Volha Kaliaha, 2021, text copyright Ashley Mireles, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

Big rig-loving kids will be looking for the plow and tractor, and they’re here too, as well as some modern farming methods that keep crops and farmers organized and environmentally savvy. Little ones with a thirst for knowledge will be proud to learn the “big words” scattered among the pages, such as “A is for agriculture” and “I is for Irrigation.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-f-is-for-farm-cow

Image copyright Volha Kaliaha, 2021, text copyright Ashley Mireles, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

Ashley Mireles brings the farm inside with her enchanting picks from the country that will please little ones. Her simple four-word sentences invite youngest readers to chime in on the repeated “is for” while emerging readers will gain confidence in recognizing these sight words and other familiar words and letter sounds.

Volha Kaliaha packs her delightful illustrations with lots of realistic images from a farm as well as sweet details that will make kids smile. Not only does each page introduce the alphabet and a crop of words, the vegetables growing in rows, apples on the trees, pumpkins in the cart, and more welcome kids who love to count. Little ones will be excited to find plenty of items to name, colors to point out, and new foods to try within Kaliaha’s pages.

Ages Baby – 3

Familius, 2021 | ISBN 978-1641704526

You can find more books from Familius that joyfully reflect the habits of happy families, including reading, talking, laughing, eating, working, loving, healing, learning, and playing together as well as the Familius blog The Habit Hub here.

You can connect with Volha Kaliaha on Instagram.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-f-is-for-farm-cover

You can buy F Is for Farm on the Familius website.

 

This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure statement here.

Picture Book Review

August 27 – Banana Lovers Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-banana-for-two-cover-final

About the Holiday

If you love bananas, you’re not alone! Bananas are the most popular fruit in the United States and one of the most popular worldwide. How popular are they? On average each person eats 100 of these delicious fruits every year. Bananas’ are versatile and nutritious, making them a perfect addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. Today, banana lovers can celebrate by enjoying this appealing fruit in their favorite way. But first, you’ll need to buy a bunch. Make the shopping fun for you and your little ones with today’s book!

Banana for Two

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu

 

As a mother strolls her shopping cart through the grocery store, she engages her toddler, who’s brought along two stuffed bunnies, in choosing the items they need. Mama talks to her child about the one roll of paper towels she puts in the cart, then it’s off to the cereal aisle. Holding up a colorful box, Mama says, “‘Here’s your favorite cereal’” to which her toddler enthusiastically answers, “‘MORE!’” Playfully, Mama holds the box up to one eye and says, “‘we don’t need more—just one box. Peek-a-boo! Can you see just one eye?’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-banana-for-two-cereal

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2017, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2017. Courtesy of Start Bright Books.

Her little one giggles as they head for the dairy aisle for yogurt. Here, the child’s wish for “‘MORE!’” is granted, and Mama lets her little one hold the containers. “‘One, two—one for each hand,’ says Mama.” The child laughs and kicks, excited to help. As they pass through the fruit section, the toddler grabs a banana from the display and holds it up triumphantly. Mama is happy to add the one banana to the cart to eat later. “‘Look—one banana for one hand!’” she points out.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-banana-for-two-banana

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2017, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2017. Courtesy of Start Bright Books.

At check-out, Mama names each item and the quantity they are buying as she puts the banana, yogurt, carrots, potatoes, milk, and other things on the conveyor belt. But her little one wants to help too! Suddenly, one of the stuffed bunnies is riding toward the smiling clerk on top of the roll of paper towels. Back home, it’s time for a snack. As Mama cuts the banana in half, her toddler proudly exclaims, “‘TWO!’” showing an understanding of the concept of two.

A note for parents, grandparents, and caregivers by early math expert Deborah Stipek is included. Gender neutral clothing and hair and the absence of personal pronouns in the text make this a universal book for all children.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-banana-for-two-snack

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2017, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2017. Courtesy of Start Bright Books.

Ellen Mayer’s joyful math board book for the youngest readers introduces parents and other caregivers to ways that they can add math talk to everyday activities. In Banana for Two, grocery shopping becomes a fun opportunity for an adult and child to talk together about quantity—an important early building block for math understanding and future math success. Connecting concepts a child already knows—such as two containers of yogurt for two hands—as the mother does in Banana for Two is another way to strengthen understanding.

Mayer’s conversational style—indeed the whole story is a conversation between mother and child—is sweet and loving and full of the kinds of moments that may seem routine to adults but that children cherish sharing with parents, grandparents, or other caregivers. And the final image of the little one happily savoring slices of banana will have kids asking for “‘MORE!'”

Ying-Hwa Hu’s exuberant illustrations of mother and child will make little ones and adults smile. Cheerful eye contact between the two shows the love they share and their enjoyment in spending time together. Colorful boxes and containers line the grocery store shelves, giving the pages a fresh and sunny feel. The items Mama adds to the cart are clearly shown in quantities of one and two. Little readers will love the adorable stuffed bunnies and join in the toddler’s pride as they too recognize the ideas of one and two.

Banana for Two will charm little ones and would made a perfect book to share before shopping, at meal or snack time, or during playtime to reinforce the lesson and the fun of learning. The book also makes an excellent shower or new baby gift and is highly recommended for home, preschool classroom, and public library board book collections.

Ages Birth – 2

Star Bright Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1595727886 (English edition) | ISBN 978-1595727992 (Bilingual Spanish/English Edition)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-banana-para-dos-cover

Banana for Two is also available in bilingual editions in these languages. See the Star Bright Books website for more information and how to order. To find all of languages Star Bright Books titles are published in, click here.

Chinese/English | Hindi/English | Hmong/English | Punjabi/English | Somali/English | Spanish/English

To discover more about Ellen Mayer and her books as well as  find lots of resources for adults and fun activities for kids, visit her website.

Learn more about Ying-Hwa Hu and her art, and her books, visit her website.

Banana Lovers Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-math-fun-is-in-the-bag-game

Math Fun Is in the Bag Grocery Shopping Game

 

Little ones love to pretend to go grocery shopping! With the printable game pieces and instructions here, you and your child can fill a bag with items in quantities of one and two and share some math fun!

Supplies

Directions

To Make a Bag

  1. Fold the 8 ½” by 11” piece of paper in half and tape on the side and at the bottom
  2. Your child may enjoy decorating your homemade bag or a paper sandwich bag with crayons

To Play the Game

  1. After printing the Math Fun Is in the Bag template, talk with your little one about the quantity of items in each picture. Even if your child is not talking yet, they are listening and learning.
  2. Help your child cut the pictures apart
  3. Ask your child to find a picture of one banana and put it in the bag
  4. Continue with the other pictures, noting the quantity of the item
  5. For older children, print two (or more) copies of the Math Fun Is in the Bag template and have them add two bananas, two cartons of milk, four carrots, and four containers of yogurt to the bag.
  6. Older children may also enjoy paying for their groceries with pennies in quantities of one or two (or more). Set a price for each item and help children count out the coins needed to pay for them.

More Math Fun!

You’ll find more Math Fun, including printable bunny puppets to make, pretend play suggestions, and tips for talking about two on Ellen Mayer’s Website

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-banana-for-two-cover

You can find Banana for Two at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review