May 12 – It’s National Family Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone's-sleepy-but-the-baby-cover

About the Holiday

Established by KidsPeace, a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children and families since 1882, National Family Month is observed during the five-week period between Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June. It coincides with the usual end of the school year, and raises awareness of the important role mothers and fathers play as a support system for their children. To observe the holiday spend time talking with your kids about topics of importance to them and plan activities  for fun and to help them achieve their goals.

Thank you to Familius for sharing a digital copy of Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby

Written by Tracy C. Gold | Illustrated by Adèle Dafflon

 

It’s getting late and mom and dad can hardly keep their eyes open. Even the dog is dog tired. But the baby? The baby is wide awake and playing with the toys. Maybe a bath with “sleepy water, / sleepy bubbles, / sleepy bathtub” will help. But no, the baby grabs the brush for a “scrub, scrub, scrub.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone's-sleepy-but-the-baby-mom-and-dad

Image copyright Adèle Dafflon, 2021, text copyright Tracy C. Gold, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

The baby’s stuffed animals are ready to rest, and outside the “sleepy moon, / sleepy stars,” and “sleepy night sky” watch over the little creatures in their nests. Yes, “everyone’s sleepy but the baby, / why? why? why?” Mom’s falling asleep in the rocker, and the dog is curled up near the crib, but the baby is drinking a bottle. Everything’s quiet, everything’s still, everyone’s sleeping. Even baby? Ahhh… Shhh….

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone's-sleepy-but-the-baby-bath

Image copyright Adèle Dafflon, 2021, text copyright Tracy C. Gold, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

We’ve all had those nights – maybe even every night for what seems forever – when Baby just won’t go to sleep. But Tracy Gold has a fix for that with her adorable rhyming story that’s as calming as a lullaby. Her gentle cadence and soothing words are relaxing for the littlest will-be-sleepers, and her easy repeated phrases give toddlers a fun way to join in the reading. Weary parents or caregivers will appreciate Gold’s empathetic humor that echoes those nightly questions about their baby’s sleep patterns: When? and Why?

In her vibrant, hilarious illustrations, Adèle Dafflon depicts that nightly struggle for adults to stay awake long enough to get their little one to sleep. While everyone else is flagging – eyes at half-mast or closed – Baby is wide awake and playing, eyes bright and shiny. Little ones will love Dafflon’s images of the baby’s toys, the sweetly smiling moon, stars, and backyard animals, and familiar scenes of home.

A bedtime board book that will be a favorite of both adults and little ones for nightly story times, Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby would make a perfect baby shower or new baby gift and is a must for families, schools, and public libraries.

Ages Baby – 3

Familius, 2021 | ISBN 978-1641704403

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.

Discover more about Tracy C. Gold and her books on her website.

To learn more about Adèle Dafflon, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Family Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-snuggle-buddy-craft

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 the two sides closed.
  2. Turn the form inside out
  3. Stuff the body with fiber fill

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 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 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. 
  2. Sew the face to the buddy

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone's-sleepy-but-the-baby-cover

To purchase Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby from Familius click here.

 

You can find Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from 

Bookshop | IndieBound 

Picture Book Review

April 19 – It’s National Frog Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elliot-the-heart-shaped-frog-cover

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elliot-the-heart-shaped-frog-snail

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.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elliot-the-heart-shaped-frog-square

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-frog-matching-game

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elliot-the-heart-shaped-frog-cover

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

April 13 – It’s the Week of the Young Child

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-digger-cover

About the Holiday

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Week of the Young Child, an annual initiative hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children to celebrate learning, young children, their families, and their teachers. Daily themes focus on ways that children learn. These included Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, and Family Friday, in which people are encouraged to share their family stories. To get more information on this week-long celebration of kids and discover activities to make each day of the week fun, visit the NAEYC website.

Thanks to Lerner Books for sending me a copy of Let’s Go on a Digger, Let’s Go on a Plane, and Let’s Go on a Train for review consideration. All opinions on the books are my own.

Let’s Go! Series

Each of the books in this upbeat series for youngest readers, which also includes Let’s Go on a Rocket, Let’s Go on a Ferry, and Let’s Go on a Tractor introduces kids to some of the methods of transportation they love to see in the outside world and that spark their imaginations. Combining vocabulary that teaches terms associated with each vehicle, realistic visuals, and a story that shows the vehicle in motion, these books are well-rounded and sweet ways to satisfy any child’s love of transportation. Also inherent in each book are depictions of friendship, teamwork, and adventure. Readers will also like recognizing familiar faces, as the same six kids take part in each book. So let’s get going!

Let’s Go on a Digger

Written by Rosalyn Albert | Illustrated by Natalia Moore

What little one wouldn’t love to climb into a huge machine and dig in the mud? With this bright and cheery board book, kids take over a construction site. From the cab of the digger, a little girl says, “I’ll make a mountain with the mud / All piled in a heap. / I’ll dig a swimming pool-sized hole: / It will be extra deep.” She tells readers that she uses the joysticks to move the boom and shovel.

Then, when the bucket is all full of dirt, she pushes the “drive rods forward / To make the treads move straight.” While two other young workers dig with a shovel and remove dirt with a wheelbarrow, the girl drives the digger to a dump truck, where she lifts the bucket and pours the dirt into the back of the truck. “‘Hooray!’” she exclaims. She’s had such fun on her digger.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-digger-construction-site

Image copyright Natalia Moore, 2021, text copyright Rosalyn Albert, 2021. Courtesy of Catch a Star.

Rosalyn Albert’s engaging rhymes are just right for young readers excited about construction vehicles and how they work. Whether on a big scale or small, digging in the mud is a favorite kid activity, and readers will love learning the words for various parts of a digger while seeing it in action.

Natalia Moore’s vibrant yellow digger and enthusiastic kids in their hardhats and safety vests welcome readers to the construction site where a big project is underway. Kids will love Moore’s depictions of the digger scooping and dumping, the joysticks in the cab, and the caterpillar treads that help the big machine move over muddy ground.

Ages Preschool and up

Lerner Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1913639112

You can find Let’s Go on a Digger at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-plane-cover

Let’s Go on a Plane

Written by Rosalyn Albert | Illustrated by Natalia Moore

At a busy airport, a pilot is almost ready to take off. A flight attendant is about to board, and a luggage handler is ready to load the passenger’s suitcases. From the huge windows of the terminal, two kids, eager for their flight, wave at the pilot and she waves back. As the plane takes off into the sky, the passengers think about how small everything on Earth will look from way up high.

“The engines roar, the wheels go up, / My seatbelt’s fastened tight. / I see the huge wings flying / Up, up, up into the night.” In the clear night sky, the kids see the moon closer than they ever have, and stars seem to be twinkling just for them.” When the pilot invites them into the cockpit, the kids are thrilled to watch her fly the plane. Soon, the plane is “gliding to the ground,” and the kids’ vacation is about to begin.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-plane-airport

Image copyright Natalia Moore, 2021, text copyright Rosalyn Albert, 2021. Courtesy of Catch a Star.

If your little one loves planes or is going to be taking a trip, Rosalyn Albert’s story of a night flight will fill them with the wonder and excitement of air travel. From a smooth ascent and landing to the phenomenon of seeing earth from afar to a visit to the cockpit to meet the pilot, Albert includes all the fun of an airplane trip.

Natalia Moore invites kids to the tarmac of a busy airport where planes wait their turn for takeoff while one plane begins to soar over the city. In the cockpit, kids can see the myriad buttons and dials, the radar screen, and the control stick the pilot uses to fly the plane. As the plane approaches its destination, kids may want to take a guess as to where it’s landing.

Ages Preschool and up

Lerner Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1913639129

You can find Let’s Go on a Plane at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-train-cover

Let’s Go on a Train

Written by Rosalyn Albert | Illustrated by Natalia Moore

On Platform 2 of the train station, two kids wait to board their train. The driver even lets them “help to stoke the fire” by shoveling coal into the furnace. As the train takes off down the tracks, the kids pass fields of sheep, travel “in and out of tunnels, / Over mountains high and green, / Through towns with people waving— / It’s such a pleasant scene.” The inspector checks their tickets, and they get tea from the trolley when it comes by. As they watch out the window, the kids tap their feet to the “click-clack” rhythm of the train. At last, “The station is in sight. / It’s been such an adventure— / I’ll have sweet dreams tonight.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-train-platform

Image copyright Natalia Moore, 2021, text copyright Rosalyn Albert, 2021. Courtesy of Catch a Star.

From standing on the platform as the powerful train pulls into the station to watching the sights speed by through the windows, Rosalyn Albert’s story of train travel is a thrill. She even includes that favorite response to seeing a train pass by—waving at the passengers. In addition to the sights, Albert also includes the distinctive sounds of train travel, from the whistle to the rhythmic “click-clack” of the wheels. Ending with a nighttime arrival scene, Let’s Go on a Train would make a sweet bedtime read for little train lovers.

Little ones will love Natalia Moore’s big green train and especially getting to see inside where knobs, dials, wheels, and piping control the furnace and the steam that powers the engine. On their long trip the kids see countryside, mountains, and rivers, and they get to partake of a favorite train-trip treat: getting a snack from the trolley or food car. Led by the glow of the lantern out front, the train pulls into the station under a full moon as the little passengers snooze.

Ages Preschool and up

Lerner Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1913639105

You can find Let’s Go on a Train at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Week of the Young Child Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-plane-coloring-page  Digger, Plane, and Train Coloring Pages

Grab your crayons or pencils and enjoy these coloring pages of your favorite vehicles

Digger Coloring Page | Plane Coloring Page | Train Coloring Page

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-digger-cover

Picture Book Review

April 8 – It’s Read a Road Map Week

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-cover

About the Holiday

Are you a lover of cars, road maps, and vehicles? If so, you’ve reached your destination! The first week of April is Read a Road Map Week, a nationwide holiday with mysterious origins. While nobody quite knows who drove this holiday into existence, it is now celebrated annually by road trippers across the US throughout the week, and especially on National Read a Road Map Day on April 5th. The holiday draws attention to the importance of roadmaps and the handiness of learning to read a physical map. In this day and age, drivers often rely on electronic GPS systems to get around. However, roadmaps used to be the only way to find your way to new locations. Learning to read road maps and road signs are useful skills for all. Celebrate this week’s holiday by learning more about how to read maps and road signs and taking a road trip to your local library or bookstore to pick up a copy of Caution! Road Signs Ahead—a perfect holiday read for kids on the go and curious about transportation.

Thanks to Toni Buzzeo and Rise x Penguin Workshop for sharing a copy of Caution! Road Signs Ahead for review consideration. All opinions of the book are my own.

Reviewed by Dorothy Levine

Caution! Road Signs Ahead

Written by Toni Buzzeo | Illustrated by Chi Birmingham

 

Are we there yet?! Do your kids ever feel a bit lost or listless during a looong car ride? Never fear; a lot of us do, and this clever board book is here to help children pass the hours gleefully while answering all of their road-trip questions. Finally, boredom be gone! With colorful infographics, die-cut pages, and clear-cut explanations, Caution! Road Signs Ahead explains the purpose of thirty-five signs kids on the go might see on a car trip in an easy and fun manner.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-interiors

Image copyright Chi Birmingham, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Rise x Penguin Workshop.

The book opens with a view out the backseat window of a car on the move. Colored signs pop on a blue background, with big, orange writing along the top. Key words such as “look out, wonder, code, and safe” are bolded in white for young readers to recognize and learn. The book begins with questions for curious backseat riders: “When you look out the windows of a car or bus, do you notice signs on the side of the road? Do you wonder what they all mean?”

The next spread explains, “They are a code to let drivers know how to stay safe, what is nearby or where to pay extra attention. You can learn the code, too!” Readers are then invited on a journey of colorful, realistic signs and easy-to-read explanations of what they tell drivers. Sections on everyday road signs, neighborhood, highway, caution, and nature signages divide the book into digestible portions.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-winding-road

Image copyright Chi Birmingham, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Rise x Penguin Workshop.

Each section opens with a brief explanation of the context of the signs ahead. For example: for the Highway Signs segment, a bright orange panel detailed with a complicated intersection illustration explains, “Small roads called exits lead you off the highway. Most of these signs tell you what you will find when you take certain exits.” Each description is cheerfully condensed to a single sentence punctuated with an explanation point. The text is fun, easy to read, and clear to understand.

A final spread of brilliant bright color blocks shows all of the signs in one and then invites readers to use their newfound knowledge on their next car ride. A life skills book that is so fun, kids will flip through the pages over and over again, until the signs are naturally memorized. This durable book is carefully crafted and a perfect treasure for every back-seat passenger.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-viewing-area

Image copyright Chi Birmingham, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Rise x Penguin Workshop.

Toni Buzzeo’s twenty-ninth picture book engages young readers in an exploration the world of signage around them. Simple explanations encourage and empower young children with knowledge of the roads they travel. A one-of-a-kind non-fiction picture book that is always relevant, Caution! Road Signs Ahead is a perfect take-along for car trips, train rides, and even strolls around the neighborhood! The book is also a great resource for preschools and lower elementary classrooms to prepare the next generation of drivers to be careful, conscientious, and informed while on the go. What could be better?

Chi Birmingham realistically re-creates the shapes and colors of 35 road signs into tactile, cut-out designs that young readers can physically feel and marvel over. In each spread, the sign is presented on the right with its meaning cleverly posted to the silver “metal” backing of the previous sign. Text and signs are consistent, and clearly labeled, matching the straightforward nature of road signage. The illustrations are mesmerizing and aesthetically pleasing in the unique ways they stack and complement each other. Each section features a new, bold color scheme and creative cut outs. The construction of the catchy explanations and flashy signs come together to produce a gem of a book; a joy to flip through, for children and adults alike. Road trips have just become 35 times better for all—time for a road trip to pick up a copy of this book!

Ages 2 – 5

Rise x Penguin Workshop, 2021 | ISBN 978-0593224328

Discover more about Toni Buzzeo and her books on her website.

To learn more about Chi Birmingham, his books, and his art on his website.

Read a Road Map Week Activities

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-road-trip-word-search

Road Trip Word Search

 

Find words related to driving and road-tripping in this free printable car shaped word search!

Road Trip Word Search PuzzleRoad Trip Word Search Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-Spy-travel-and-transport-game

I Spy Travel & Transport Game

 

While you’re in the car or on a walk, see how many of the sights on this free printable scavenger hunt  from Paper Trail Design you can find!

I Spy Travel & Transport Game

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-license-plate-game

License Plate Game

 

Check off as many license plates as you can spot on a road trip with this free printable colorful game from Paper Trail Design

License Plate Game Board

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-cover

You can find Caution! Road Signs Ahead at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

March 23 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of I Miss Your Sunny Smile and Interview with Deb Adamson

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-miss-your-sunny-smile-cover

About the Holiday

It’s National Reading Month, the perfect time to celebrate a book birthday! Today I’m excited to be featuring a sweet board book for the littlest readers that parents and caregivers will love sharing to make every day better. 

Thanks to Blue Manatee Press for sharing a digital copy of I Miss Your Sunny Smile for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own. I’m happy to be partnering with Deb Adamson in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

I Miss Your Sunny Smile

Written by Deb Adamson | Illustrated by Anne Zimanski

 

On a rainy day a mom sits with her son watching out the window. The little boy is sad, and Mom is trying to cheer him up. She suggests going in search of his smile. They head to the living room and Mom makes a game of it—and even their dog joins in. “Did it roll under the sofa? / Is it with marbles in the dark? / Do you think your smile will make a show / if we wag our tails and bark?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-miss-your-sunny-smile-chair

Image copyright Anne Zimanski, 2021, text copyright Deb Adamson, 2021. Courtesy of Blue Manatee Press.

They look in the cookie jar and play dress up, but still the little boy wears a frown. Maybe dancing or playing peek-a-boo will help him find his smile. Even while he’s playing, though, something else is on his mind. He and his mom continue the search. At the boy’s bedroom door, they spy two fuzzy ears peeking out of the blanket. “Wait!” says Mom. “Is that your smile napping? / All cozy in your bed?”

They tiptoe in and lift the covers. There is Teddy—and the boy’s smile. The little boy hugs his teddy bear and grins from ear to ear. Outside the rain has stopped and the sun has come out. The boy, Teddy, and Mom take a walk to the park, ready to enjoy their day.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-miss-your-sunny-smile-park

Image copyright Anne Zimanski, 2021, text copyright Deb Adamson, 2021. Courtesy of Blue Manatee Press.

All little ones have moments when things aren’t going right or they feel afraid or worried. Deb Adamson’s sweet story lets parents and caregivers show their little ones that feeling sad can be temporary and that adults are there to help them by talking about what’s bothering them or trying to find out in other ways. When children aren’t old enough or don’t know how to express their feelings yet, playing with them, having a snack, or just spending time together can lead to happiness. Kids will be charmed by Adamson’s tender rhyming storytelling that reveals a loving mother and son bond and will be reassured when the boy finds his teddy bear—and his smile.

Anne Zimanski’s lovely illustrations show a mother fully engaged with helping her son feel happy again. Children will love her detailed images of home that create a cozy atmosphere as well as the enthusiastic dog that joins in on the search, snack time, and playtime. The characters’ facial expressions clearly show the mother’s love and patience and the little boy’s sadness, discontent, and worry. When the teddy bear is found, the boy’s smile is infectious. This scene is made even more endearing as Teddy’s floppy arms wrap around the boy as he hugs his favorite friend.

An enchanting story for families to share during those times when a little encouragement and understanding are needed as well as for quiet story times full of love and reassurance.

Ages Baby – 4

Blue Manatee Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-1936669875

Discover more about Deb Adamson and her books on her website.

To learn more about Anne Zimanski, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Meet Deb Adamson

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Deb-Adamson-headshot

Deb Adamson’s children’s books can be silly, sweet and sometimes even a little bit quirky. Her goal is to always bring on a sunny smile! She lives in Connecticut with her husband, son, and orange cat extraordinaire, Lumpy.

You can connect with Deb Adamson on her website | Facebook | Twitter 

Hi Deb! It’s wonderful to be talking with you about your latest book! You’ve had such a varied career in all types of communications jobs—from being a broadcast news journalist and syndicated columnist to working as a public relations spokesperson for a major aquarium to becoming a published picture book author. Do you feel like your previous jobs have led you to writing for children? What do you like most about this genre?

I do feel that my previous careers have influenced my children’s books. As a writer, I feel like everything we do colors our work. And the varied career I’ve had definitely shows up in my  books. Writing can be such a magical pursuit. We draw from all aspects of experience. The subconscious is tapped and what we didn’t even know was a focus or deep impression makes an appearance on the page. I love the saying, “What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.” That goes for writing. I guess for me, once a journalist, always a journalist because  a few of my story ideas came from news stories that sparked an interest. And animals, whether marine or not, seem to more often than not, make a cameo in most of my books. I have to add though, that even through all those careers, I was reading children’s books and writing and querying children’s manuscripts. My first book was published while I was working at the Aquarium. Even before I had my son, there was something about writing for children that called to me. So, this has actually been my preferred career choice for many years now. I consider myself really lucky to finally call this my current vocation!

Have you always loved to write? Who were you influenced by while growing up?

I’ve always loved to read and to write. I was most influenced by my mother. She was a voracious reader. She wrote herself and believed in the power of story. Even though I was barely six years old, I still have vivid memories of the newest branch of our city library opening a half mile from my house. I recall frequently skipping along the sidewalk with her to that library and carrying home stacks of books. Such happy memories.

What inspired you to write I Miss Your Sunny Smile? Can you tell readers a little about your process in writing it?

I am big believer at cultivating emotional intelligence. (I have a shelf lined with self-improvement books!) As adults we come to learn that bad days come and go. So, we focus on what is good in our lives and hopefully are able to put most things in perspective. Little ones have yet to acquire those skills, therefore it is up to us to model a healthy approach. This little book is my attempt at helping parents guide young children ages one through four, through a bad day. The mom in the book is attempting to lighten the situation with distraction and humor, which is a great tool for redirecting feelings in young children. It is my hope that parents will remember the message of distraction and recall it whenever they need it. Even though it has been over 16 years, I certainly remember needing a book like this when my own son was a toddler!

Anne Zaminski’s warm illustrations show such a sweet relationship between the mother and her child. What were your first thoughts when you saw them? Do you have a favorite spread?

I cannot gush enough about Anne Zimanski’s art for this book! The illustrations are somewhat retro. The color is vivid. The emotion she captured is spot-on. We picture book authors are lucky to be paired with such talent. Anne really brought the characters to life, just as I had imagined. I could not be more pleased. If I had to pick a favorite spread it’s the one where the mom, child, and dog are looking under the sofa barking and wagging tails searching for a smile! I imagine that one generating giggles.

Your Twitter followers have been introduced to your cat whom you affectionately call Fatty Lumpkin, or Lumpy for short. Can you tell us a little about him?

Lumpy, like most author cats, is my constant companion.He is usually somewhere in the room, contentedly snoozing, just glad to have me nearby.  And yes! He has been my muse. I was not always a cat person. I grew up with dogs and just never knew a cat until as a young adult. I moved away and decided to adopt one. Then I learned about cats’ many charms. I actually wrote a manuscript inspired by that fact, that many people label themselves one or the other—cat or dog person, but usually not both. That’s often because they just don’t take the time to familiarize themselves with the great differences in cat and dog behavior. The manuscript is  super silly! My agent and I are hoping that one finds a home.

What’s the best part about being a children’s writer?

The best part of being a children’s book writer is losing myself in story and then ultimately sharing what I cultivated with children and families. I think most writers enjoy finding some universal truth that will ultimately reach out and touch the reader. And when that reader is a child it takes on that much more meaning and pleasure. But of course, not all children’s book writing has to have such depth. Like I said, books for kids should also just be written to encourage the pure pleasure of reading. I really enjoy knowing that my books generate laughs!

What’s up next for you?

I have three children’s books coming out in 2021 and one in 2022. I cannot even believe that, myself! I Miss Your Sunny Smile board book in March, Bing Bang Pling, Now We Swing, a picture book this summer, and A Christmas Eve Wish For Santa, a picture book in the fall. Needless to say, I will be especially busy with marketing. And then in 2022, Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, a nonfiction picture book is next.

Thanks, Deb! It’s been great chatting with you! I wish you all the best with I Miss Your Sunny Smile and all of your upcoming books!

I Miss Your Sunny Smile Giveaway

I’m happy to be partnering with Deb Adamson in a giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of I Miss Your Sunny Smile written by Deb Adamson | Illustrated by Anne Zimanski

Here’s how to enter:

This giveaway is open from March 23 through March 30 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on March 31

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | Prizing provided by Deb Adamson.

If you would like a signed copy of I Miss Your Sunny Smile, you can order from Bank Square Books.

I Miss Your Sunny Smile Activity

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-teddy-bear-coloring-page

Teddy Bear Coloring Page

 

Enjoy some teddy bear love with this printable coloring page!

Teddy Bear Coloring Page

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-miss-your-sunny-smile-cover

You can also find I Miss Your Sunny Smile at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

March 11 – Worship of Tools Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-cover

About the Holiday

What would we do without tools? Handheld and big machinery devices help us create buildings, artwork, crafts, and furniture; cook delectable meals; tend the garden; and keep our vehicles and homes in tip-top shape. Even animals use sticks, rocks, and their own paws as tools to get food and build homes. To celebrate today’s holiday make sure your tools are all in order and working, or if you’ve had your eye on a new tool, treat yourself!

Whose Tools?

Written by Toni Buzzeo | Illustrated by Jim Datz

 

There’s a lot of building going on! Where to start? Well, that depends…. “To build a house, start down low” and use these tools: the chalk line, the chisel, the jointer, and the float. “Whose tools are those? The mason’s!” What does he use them for? He’ll tell you himself: “I smooth the cement until it’s flat.” Where do windows go? Way up high! Here are the hammer, the level, the square, and the saw. Can you guess who uses those tools? They belong to the carpenter! He’s cutting the frame where the windows will go.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-foundation

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

It’s important that a house stays dry in rain and snow. What tools help with that? The utility knife, the snips, the nail gun, and the ladder. “Whose tools are those? Do you know?” They’re the roofer’s! What does she do with them? She climbs to the top of the house and nails “the shingles in straight rows.” A house can’t be dark, so the workers will “add some lights that softly glow.” They’ll use a screwdriver, a drill, a linesman pliers, and a wire stripper. Who are they? They’re the electricians! One electrician is busy stringing “the wire from switches to lights.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-mason

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

A house needs water too! What kinds of tools are used for that? An adjustable wrench, a pipe cutter, pipe tape, and a pipe wrench. And who uses these tools? The plumber! He turns “the pipe elbows until they’re tight” so there are no leaks! The house is almost finished, and now “on all four walls bright colors flow.” What tools are used to make such a pretty house? A brush, a roller, a roller tray, and masking tape. And who uses them? The painter! Right now she’s putting another coat of green paint on the wall. “The house is still not finished, though. Who’s come to build?” Surprise! “It’s you!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-roof

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Children are naturally curious about the tools, utensils, and machinery they see adults using. Toni Buzzeo’s delightful board book introduction to twenty-four tools for the youngest readers will capture their interest and imagination with fun prompts and a house-construction project in process. Buzzeo’s enthusiastic language and guess-who format invites multiple readings during which little ones are sure to memorize the names of all the tools and recognize them in the “real world” when they see them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-roof-fold-out

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Through Jim Datz’s cheery illustrations, kids watch as a cozy house comes together from foundation to finished as they learn the shape of each tool and see some being used. Questions are introduced on the left-hand page while the particular tools, drawn with sweet, smiling faces, are named on the right. This page opens to a double spread in which both men and women workers are busily and happily plying their trade. The final image will bring a giggle from kids as they discover that the house being built is actually a house of blocks being carefully constructed by a little girl and boy.

Whose Tools? would make a welcome baby gift and a fun addition to home and preschool libraries for little tool lovers.

Ages 2 – 4

Harry N. Abrams, 2015 | ISBN 978-1419714313

Discover more about Toni Buzzeo and her books on her website.

To view a portfolio of artwork by Jim Datz, visit his website

Worship of Tools Day Activity

Tool-Box-Coloring-Page-[www.getcoloringpages.com]

Terrific Tools! Coloring Pages

 

Tools are terrific when you need to fix something old or build something new! Have fun coloring these tools and their toolbox!

Saw | Wrench | Toolbox

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-cover

You can find Whose Tools? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

February 1 – Get Ready for Valentine’s Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tiny-t-rex-and-the-perfect-valentine-cover

About the Holiday

Love is in the air! Love for family, friends, and our special valentines. Begun as a religious feast day, Valentine’s Day became a day of romance with the bloom of courtly love during the 14th century. In England during the 18th century, those in love began showing their affections by giving flowers and candy and making valentine’s cards. Now, Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar and a favorite of adults and kids alike.

Tiny T. Rex and the Perfect Valentine

Written by Jonathan Stutzman | Illustrated by Jay Fleck

 

Anyone who knows Tiny T. Rex knows that his best friend is Pointy. And if you know that Pointy is Tiny’s best friend, then you know how much Tiny likes to show his affection for him. So you can imagine that for Valentine’s Day, Tiny wants to make Pointy a perfect card. In his mind, Tiny pictures a big shiny heart with four heart balloons on top. On the front there will be a bow and two hearts that will pop out on springs. Fireworks will also shoot into the sky. “It is going to be perfect,” Tiny thinks. He wheels a big can of red paint over to where his huge white paper heart lies on the floor. But “Oh dear,” the wagon overturns spilling the paint on Tiny, but nowhere near the heart.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tiny-t-rex-and-the-perfect-valentine-snipped

Image copyright Jay Fleck, 2020, text copyright Jonathan Stutzman, 2020. Courtesy of Chronicle Books.

At least, Tiny thinks, he can “make it extra fancy” with some glitter. He climbs to the top of a ladder and tips the jar to get some glitter. But “Oh my,” Tiny and the tall jar tumble, and Tiny gets covered in gold, red, and pink flakes. “It will take many tries to make this perfect,” says Tiny. Next, he tries to make the smaller hearts, but the scissors are so unwieldy, and the hearts turn out not quite perfect. Then when he writes Pointy’s name on the Valentine, it doesn’t look quite right.

Tiny tries again “and again and again,” but something always goes awry, and Tiny becomes festooned with hearts. Finally, all Tiny has “…for Pointy is a very big, very messy…mess.” When Pointy arrives, Tiny has to apologize for not having a Valentine for him. But Pointy says that’s okay because he already has the perfect Valentine. Can you guess who?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tiny-t-rex-and-the-perfect-valentine-pointy

Image copyright Jay Fleck, 2020, text copyright Jonathan Stutzman, 2020. Courtesy of Chronicle Books.

Jonathan Stutzman’s endearing dinos are back with a message about love and friendship in this adorable Valentine’s Day board book. As Tiny T. Rex suffers little mishaps while making Pointy’s Valentines, little ones will “Oh no” and “Oh my” along with him, but also find themselves giggling as Tiny becomes covered in paint, glitter, and hearts. Tiny’s declarative statements echo the way children think and speak, and with each unexpected tip or snip, kids will eagerly want to see what happens next. Stutzman’s sweet ending provides the snuggly reassurance that every Valentine wants on this special day.

Jay Fleck’s beloved itty-bitty green dinosaur and his red friend, Pointy are as cute as ever. Tiny’s chalk drawing is, like many children’s imagined projects, elaborate but full of love. Images of Tiny falling into the paint and glitter, cutting up the small hearts, and misspelling Pointy’s name will make readers’ heart’s swell. Tiny’s determination to try again and again is charming, and kids on the upper range of the target audience may like to predict what will happen in the end. Pointy’s heartfelt assurance that Tiny is the perfect Valentine turns his disappointment into a warm grin.

Heartwarming and adorable, Tiny T. Rex and the Perfect Valentine will make any little one’s holiday perfect. For fans of these dino best friends or newcomers to the three-book series, the book will make an often-asked-for addition to home bookshelves and libraries.

Ages 2 – 4

Chronicle Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1452184890

Discover more about Jonathan Stutzman and his books on his website.

To learn more about Jay Fleck, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Get Ready for Valentine’s Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-entangled-hearts-matching-puzzle

Entangled Hearts Matching Puzzle

 

These friends are collecting valentines! Can you help them follow the paths to find more in this printable puzzle?

Entangled Hearts Matching Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tiny-t-rex-and-the-perfect-valentine-cover

You can find Tiny T. Rex and the Perfect Valentine at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review