April 19 – It’s National Frog Month

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About the Holiday

With the rainy weather of April, swampy areas and wetlands swell with water, and peeps and throaty croaks begin to fill the nighttime air. April is the perfect time to learn more about the more than 4700 species of frogs as well as their importance to the ecosystem. Frogs are vital to the food system, and they eat insects that are harmful to crops and carry disease. Because they don’t drink water but absorb it through their skin, frogs are particularly susceptible to pollution. In addition, habitat destruction, climate change, and an increase in invasive species threaten the frog population, making the conservation of their environment of utmost importance. To raise awareness of the importance and threats to frogs, Save the Frogs conservation organization has established April 24 as Save the Frogs Day. You can learn more about their work and how you can participate on the Save the Frogs website. To celebrate National Frog Month, hop over to I Love Veterinary for some toad-ally awesome activities and facts about these fascinating amphibians!

Elliot the Heart-Shaped Frog

Written by Matt Forrest Esenwine | Illustrated by Anna Kubaszewska

 

When Elliot was a little tadpole, he lived in the pond, making friends with the fish and sea creatures who lived there too. But Elliot had lost his tail, grown strong legs, and acquired the ability to breathe air. “Now, he was old enough to hop on land!” Elliot began looking for a new home. He wanted his home to be just right.

He spied a “blue, square-shaped stone, but it was too cold.” The next spot he tried was round and “too hard.” He found a “diamond-shaped patch of grass” and a bumpy log, but those weren’t quite right either. He tried hopping onto lots of things he found in the woods—and even into an old discarded box, but none of these places felt like home.

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Image copyright Anna Kubaszewska, 2021, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2021. Courtesy of Rainstorm Publishing.

Under the full moon, Elliot went to sleep and had a sweet dream about finding a home and making a new friend. When he woke up, there on the pond, floated a green “heart-shaped lily pad.” Elliot leaped on. It felt just right. And not far away, a little girl frog was waving at him. Elliot gathered a little bouquet of flowers and went to her pad to visit “his new heart-shaped friend.”

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Image copyright Anna Kubaszewska, 2021, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2021. Courtesy of Rainstorm Publishing.

Matt Forrest Esenwine’s enchanting story of a little frog looking for the perfect home and a new friend on land is a sweet introduction to basic shapes and colors for the youngest readers. Its familiar “Goldilocks” structure makes it easy for little ones to join in on the refrains of “too cold”, “too hard”, and the rest. Little ones will be charmed by Elliot and understand his desire to find the place where he belongs and to make new friends after his big move to dry land. Esenwine’s gentle storytelling makes this a perfect book for bedtime, naptime, or any story time.

Bright, cheery, and full of smiles, Anna  Kubaszewska’s illustrations are sure to make little ones’ smile back as they follow Elliot on his search for the perfect home. Elliot, with his heart-shaped body, heart-shaped spots, and infectious enthusiasm, is adorable, as are all of the pond-side creatures Elliot encounters. Inspired by Esenwine’s specific references to various shapes and colors, Kubaszewska invites kids to look for them and others throughout her lush illustrations.

An endearing and vibrant board book, Elliot the Heart-Shaped Frog will quickly become a favorite on any baby’s, toddler’s, or preschooler’s bookshelf at home, school, and for public libraries. In addition to its introduction of the concepts of shapes and colors, the book would make a wonderful story to share with little ones beginning daycare or preschool or learning early nature science.

Ages 2 – 5

Rainstorm Publishing, 2021 | ISBN 978-1628858020 (Board Book)

Discover more about Matt Forrest Esenwine, his books, poetry, and other work on his website.

To learn more about Anna Kubaszewska and see a portfolio of her work, visit her website.

National Frog Month Activity

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Hop Along Matching Game

 

Hop along now and help these frogs! Each of these frogs has a twin, but they’ve gotten separated. Can you spot the identical pairs in this printable game? 

Hop Along Matching Game

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You can find Elliot the Heart-Shaped Frog at these booksellers

Main Street Bookends | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

June 19 – New Friends Day

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About the Holiday

Friendships and making new friends are so important to our happiness that this national holiday is actually celebrated three times a year—on January 19th, July 19th, and October 19th. Making friends is one of the first skills little ones learn as they begin, as babies and toddlers, to join playgroups, music groups, daycare, and other social activities. Sharing books with stories about friendship, that model good examples of talking and playing with others, and which depict an appreciation for people’s differences is a wonderful way to expand a child’s social and emotional development. Sharing life with good friends a joy to be cherished. Start your little one off on the journey with today’s book!

Will You Be Friends with Me?

Written by Kathleen Long Bostrom | Illustrated by Jo de Ruiter

 

As the story opens, two vignettes show a little brown boy greeting the dawn while a blond, bespectacled girl shows up to the breakfast table after everyone has finished. “I wake early,” the boy says. “You sleep late.” At the playground later, this same girl enjoys the swings with another girl. She observes, “My hair’s curly. / Yours is straight.” On a trip to the pool, this second girl meets a Black girl, who, wearing two types of floaties and a swimming cap, just dips her toe in the water as her new acquaintance jumps in, noting, “I say, ‘Now!’ / You say, ‘Wait?’” Then as they both dry off, she asks, “Will you be friends with me?”

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Image copyright Jo de Ruiter, 2020, text copyright Kathleen Long Bostrom, 2020. Courtesy of WorthyKids.

At school the early riser notices that his tablemate likes to use different art materials than he does. Is one better than the other, he wonders, but it doesn’t keep him from asking, “Will you be friends with me?” A picnic and snack time during soccer practice are two more places where pairs of kids meet each other and discover different ways of doing things that don’t deter—and probably prompt—the repeated refrain, “Will you be friends with me?”

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Image copyright Jo de Ruiter, 2020, text copyright Kathleen Long Bostrom, 2020. Courtesy of WorthyKids.

All of these children meet on a grassy hill to play a game of leapfrog, encouraging each other to soar as high as they can. As the early bird reads on a sunny porch and the night owl reads by flashlight under her covers, the boy reveals, “I like morning. / You like night. / We’re just different. / That’s all right!” And indeed it is as these new friends show readers how to play instead of squabble, share instead of judge, and embrace each other’s differences because they know—and readers discover—that “life is much more fun that way.”

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Image copyright Jo de Ruiter, 2020, text copyright Kathleen Long Bostrom, 2020. Courtesy of WorthyKids.

Kathleen Long Bostrom’s delightful ode to making friends combines simplicity and intricacy in equal measure. Her endearing verses blend declarative sentences about various personality traits with questions kids commonly ask each other about their favorite things—questions that readers will enjoy answering as well. These pages give adults and kids an opportunity to talk about differences and similarities within their own family, classroom, sports team, and friends. The repeated phrase, “Will you be friends with me?,” is a joy to read aloud, and children will love chiming in each time. This simple, welcoming invitation is also one that kids can remember and use, whether they’re outgoing or more hesitant, whenever they meet someone they’d like to be friends with. The final line: “I’m glad you’re friends with me!” is a heartfelt sentiment everyone wants to hear and is just as appropriate for new friends as for old or even between adult reader and child.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-friends

Image copyright Jo de Ruiter, 2020, text copyright Kathleen Long Bostrom, 2020. Courtesy of WorthyKids.

Jo de Ruiter’s adorable illustrations sparkle with the actions, expressions, and emotions of children navigating their world while discovering themselves and those around them. Her fresh color palette and kid-favorite places make each page one that readers will want to explore. Kids will enjoy following the fluid pairings of friends and their varying interactions. Diversity within the group of friends in race and ability—the boy who’s the early riser wears leg braces and uses forearm crutches—reflects readers’ experiences at school and in their community.

Playful, charming, and enriching, Will You Be Friends with Me? is an inspiring book for home story times, classroom reading, and public library collections. The book can also spark discussions about making friends at the beginning of a school year or during any new experience. The bouncy rhythm makes this a book little ones will want to hear again and again.

Ages Birth to 5

WorthyKids, 2020 | ISBN 978-1546033806

Discover more about Kathleen Long Bostrom and her books on her website.

To learn more about Jo de Ruiter, her books, and her art, visit her website.

New Friends Day Activity

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Beaded Friendship Bracelet

 

Little ones love to make, wear, and share special bracelets. In this easy-to-make bracelet, each color of bead can represent friends and/or family. Fill it all at once or add beads with each new friend made.

Supplies

  • Wooden or plastic beads in various colors—one color for each friend or family member. You can use medium-size beads for the center and smaller beads for the rest of the bracelet, if desired
  • Elastic, embroidery thread, or string
  • Scissors
  • Plastic sewing needle with a large eye

Directions

  1. Determine the number of friends your child would like the bracelet to represent.
  2. Choose a different color of bead in both sizes for each friend.
  3. Determine the color pattern of the beads.
  4. Measure your child’s wrist and cut a length of elastic, embroidery thread, or string, leaving it long enough to tie onto the first and last beads (and make a loop clasp if using thread or string).
  5. Help your child thread the needle with the elastic, embroidery thread, or string.
  6. Thread the first bead onto the elastic, thread, or string, leaving about a half-inch at the end.
  7. Pull end of thread over bead and tie a knot with the end and the length of string.
  8. Approximate the center of your bracelet and thread several small beads in the chosen color pattern onto the elastic, thread, or string.
  9. Thread the medium beads onto the bracelet in the same color pattern.
  10. Follow with more small beads to finish the bracelet.
  11. Tie the last bead onto the elastic, thread, or string.
  12. To make a loop clasp on the end if using embroidery thread or string, loop the thread or string.

Children can make two or more bracelets to share with their friends.celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-will-you-be-friends-with-me-cover

You can find Will You Be Friends with Me? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review