February 17 – Random Acts of Kindness Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ordinary-mary's-extraordinary-deed-covers

About the Holiday

Random Acts of Kindness Day originated in New Zealand, where the holiday is celebrated nation wide every September 1st. In the U.S. the popularity of this day continues to grow, as people discover the pleasure of doing nice things for friends and strangers alike. Connecting with others and paying forward kind deeds can be infectious, making the world a better place for all!

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed

Written by Emily Pearson | Illustrated by Fumi Kosaka

 

One day an ordinary girl named Mary begins her ordinary day. On her way home she spies ordinary blueberries in a field and picks them. She knows Mrs. Bishop would like them, so Mary leaves them in an ordinary bowl on her porch. Mrs. Bishop is so happy with the berries that she uses them to make blueberry muffins. But who gave her the blueberries? Mrs. Bishop can think of five people who might have, and she divides the muffins between them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Ordinary-Mary's-Extraordinary-Day-blueberries

Image copyright Fumi Kosaka, 2002, text copyright Emily Pearson, 2002. Courtesy of Gibbs Smith.

One of the five is Mrs. Bishop’s paperboy. He is so delighted with the muffins that he kindly hand delivers the newspapers to the next five people on his route. One of these is Mr. Stevens, who is so happy he spends the next 10 hours smiling on an airplane and helps five people lift heavy bags.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Ordinary-Mary's-Extraordinary-Day-mrs-bishop

Image copyright Fumi Kosaka, 2002, text copyright Emily Pearson, 2002. Courtesy of Gibbs Smith.

One of these is Maria, who later does nice things for five other people. One of these cheers up the next five people she sees, who in turn brightens the day of five people. By now these random acts of kindness have spread through town and farther. People everywhere are watching out for others, being generous, smiling, becoming friends, and more! And in a surprising happenchance, ordinary Mary’s original act of kindness comes back to her!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Ordinary-Mary's-Extraordinary-Day-joseph

Image copyright Fumi Kosaka, 2002, text copyright Emily Pearson, 2002. Courtesy of Gibbs Smith.

What Mary doesn’t know, though, is that her extraordinary deed actually changes the whole world for the better—because each person touched by kindness shares it with five others, who share it with five more until the one act of leaving blueberries on Mrs. Bishop’s porch multiplies to 6 billion other people!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Ordinary-Mary's-Extraordinary-Day-world

Image copyright Fumi Kosaka, 2002, text copyright Emily Pearson, 2002. Courtesy of Gibbs Smith.

Emily Pearson’s story is a delightful tale of how one person can make a positive difference in the lives of others. The thread of simple deeds shared from one character to the next demonstrates to young and old alike how just a smile, a compliment, or an unexpected act can transform another person’s day and even the way they view themselves and the world. This is a perfect book for spurring random acts of kindness, and its straightforward treatment of the way random acts build on each other makes it a great reminder for all ages.

Fumi Kosaka has populated Mary’s world and beyond with people whose wide smiles and twinkling eyes make you want to share the excitement of giving right along with them. Her simple, colorful drawings focus on the people affected and highlight the simple acts that bring them so much pleasure.

Ages 4 and up

Gibbs Smith Publishers, Layton, Utah | ISBN 978-0879059781 (Hardcover) | ISBN 978-1423648871 (Paperback)

Random Acts of Kindness Day Activity

CPB - Random Acts of Kindness cards

Random Acts of Kindness Cards to Share

 

It’s fun to surprise someone with an unexpected gift or compliment! It makes the other person and you feel happier! Here are some printable Random Acts of Kindness Cards that you can give to anyone you meet today—or any day. If you’d like to write your own, here is a set of Blank Cards. You can give one to your teacher, librarian, favorite store clerk, your postal worker, your neighbors and friends, the person next to you on the bus or train. Or why not brighten someone’s day by leaving a note where they might find it—in a book at the library or bookstore, in a friend’s lunchbox, in your mailbox, on a store shelf, or anywhere you go!

Picture Book Review

February 16 – Innovation Day

CPB - Girls Think of Everything Innovation Day

About the Holiday

Today we celebrate all those people who look at a problem and design a solution, or who just ask, “What if…?” and search for answers. So put on your thinking cap, look around you, and do something new, novel, and completely unexpected. Who knows…you may be the next great inventor!

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women

Written by Catherine Thimmesh | Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

 

Throughout history women have invented new and clever ways of doing things—necessity is the Mother of invention, after all. In her fascinating picture book, Catherine Thimmesh highlights ten women and two girls whose creativity has changed the world.

Here, you’ll learn the intriguing stories behind each invention, the struggles for recognition, and the ultimate victory of innovation. Did you know that the original recipe for chocolate chip cookies was just a time-saver? Or that people once thought windshield wipers weren’t necessary? You’ll also discover how liquid paper, flat-bottomed paper bags, and the Glo-sheet came to be. Women in science have contributed Kevlar, Scotchgard, the COBOL computer language, and the space shields that protect the International Space Station, satellites, and more.

Catherine Thimmesh is an excellent storyteller, drawing you into the actions and minds of these women innovators and the situations or environments that fostered their talents. Melissa Sweet accompanies each profile with portraits of the inventor and colorful collage illustrations that build on the text and tell stories of their own.

Ages 7 – 12

Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2000 | ISBN 978-0618195633

Innovation Day Activity

CPB - Invention Word Scramble

Invention Word Scramble

 

Every invention started out as a jumble of ideas in someone’s head. In this Invention Word Scramble you can unscramble the letters of some of the world’s greatest creations. Solutionincluded. Odog cklu!

 

February 13 – World Radio Day

CPB - Radio Man

About the Holiday

The radio has provided entertainment, news, comfort, and information and has united people both near and far ever since Guglielmo Marconi invented  it in 1895. Today, radio continues to be an important part of people’s lives around the world. February 13 was established as World Radio Day “to celebrate radio as a medium, improve international cooperation among broadcasters, and to encourage both major networks and community radio to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality across the airwaves.” This year’s UNESCO theme is “Radio in times of emergency and disaster” and highlights the crucial role of radio and its journalists in times of crisis.

Radio Man

By Arthur Dorros | Translated by Sandra Marulanda Dorros

 

“Radio man” is Diego, a boy in a family of migrant workers who pick fruit and vegetables from the Southwest to as far north as Washington state. Although his family moves frequently, Diego has close relationships with his parents, sister, grandparents, cousins, and especially a friend named David.

Throughout the story, as his family moves from town to town searching for work, Diego listens to the radio. Stations broadcasting in both English and Spanish keep the family company, and Diego measures the distance of upcoming towns along their route by the clarity of the DJs’ voices. The radio also provides entertainment for end-of-picking season parties among the workers and serves as a catalyst for the grandfather’s stories of growing up in Mexico.

While Diego’s family is close-knit, their nomadic lifestyle separates Diego from his best friend, David, who is also the son of migrant workers. As the story begins Diego and David are leaving Texas and know they won’t see each other for a while. As Diego travels to different towns, going to school during the day and picking crops in the afternoon, he meets up with his cousins and other friends, but he never finds David. Finally, in Sunnyside, Washington Station KMPO allows people to send messages to others. Diego calls in and sends a message: “Hello, David! This is Diego. Are you here?”

And David, listening to his own radio, is there! Seeing David’s smile, children will identify with the pleasure that communicating with friends brings.

Each page of Radio Man is presented in English and Spanish, translated by Sandra Marulanda Dorros. The landscape and farms of the American southwest, the festive celebrations, the reality of driving from town to town, and the tight relationships among family members are all vividly illustrated by Arthur Dorros, giving children a glimpse into the life of migrant workers as well as the heart of friendship.

Ages 4 – 8

Trophy Picture Books, 1997 | ISBN 978-0064434829

World Radio Day Activity

CPB - Radio Man box radios from side

Box Radio Desk Organizer

With a recycled box and the provided printable templates  you can make a desk organizer that looks like a radio with this fun craft!

Supplies

  • Cardboard box – Use an empty cube-shaped tissue box, pasta box, or any small box
  • Wooden chopstick
  • Printable Radio Face Template
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glue – a hot-glue gun works well on the cardboard; regular glue for the buttons and tape for the station tuner window
  • Paint – any color you like
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors

Directions

1. Prepare the box:

  • Choose a box to be your radio. In the pictures I used a cube-shaped tissue box and a penne pasta box with a cellophane window in it.
  • If you are using a box without an opening in the top, cut the top or bottom flaps off of one end of the box, depending on where you want the station tuner window to go.

2. Paint the box:

  • You can paint the printed front, back and sides of the box.
  • OR if you want a plain box to use “as-is” or to paint: take the recycled box apart at the seams and turn it “inside out.”
  • If you are using a pasta box with a window in it, tape the stations tuner template to the cellophane window before gluing the seams
  • Glue the original seam and flaps (a hot-glue gun works well). Let the glue dry. Then paint.

3. Let the box dry

4. Cut out the radio dials, speaker, and stations tuner window

5. Glue the parts of the radio to the box 

6. To make the antenna, wrap the wooden chopstick in a strip of aluminum foil: lay the stick on the foil and fold a foil flap (about 1 inch long) over each end of the stick. Roll the foil around the stick and press gently to close seam.

7. Attach the antenna to your box:

  • For pasta boxes tape the antenna to the inside corner of the box
  • For cube tissue boxes, make a hole in the right hand corner and push antenna in

8. Use your Radio Desk Organizer to hold pencils, rulers, bookmarks, anything!

February 12 – Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

CPB - I am Abraham Lincoln

About the Holiday

Today we celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday! Abe Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky and later worked as a riverboat worker, a shopkeeper, and a postmaster in Illinois before becoming the 16th President of the United States. With compassion, bravery, and strength, Lincoln shepherded the country through the Civil War and signed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery in the United States. Lincoln’s birthday is commemorated with wreath-laying ceremonies at his birthplace and at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

I am Abraham Lincoln

Written by Brad Meltzer / Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

 

In his I am… series of biographies, Brad Meltzer writes about famous people as they grow from childhood into the influential adults they became. In I am Abraham Lincoln, Meltzer illuminates various experiences of Lincoln’s life that formed his beliefs of equality and inclusiveness. At a time when most children liked to hunt, fish, and tend the farm, young Abe spent his time reading, and he was one of the few people in town who could write. Even at the age of 10, his compassion showed when he stopped a group of his peers from treating a turtle roughly. Later, as a young man and newcomer to Illinois, he faced a group of bullies and dispersed them without throwing a punch.

It was when he witnessed the indignities of a slave boat, however, that his most deeply held beliefs took hold. As President, Lincoln acted on those beliefs, helping the country through the Civil War, gave speeches, and signing laws that ensured all people would be treated equally.

By relating stories from Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, Meltzer not only teaches children about his life, but demonstrates that his young readers can also make a difference by speaking up and helping others whenever they see injustice.

Christopher Eliopoulos’s cartoon-like illustrations are particularly effective in showing the earnestness of Abraham Lincoln’s personality from early childhood on. Speech bubbles display dialogue, modeling the simple words that can so often create great change. Part of the book’s charm is that even as a child Lincoln sports his iconic beard and top hat, making him instantly recognizable as the hero children are familiar with and emphasizing the “man in the child” theme.

Ages 4 – 8

Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group, New York, 2014 | ISBN 978-0803740839

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday Activities

CPB - Abe Lincoln's Top Hat chalkboard (2)

Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat Chalkboard

Abraham Lincoln was known for the black top hat he wore – and for his inspiring words In this activity you can learn how to make a top hat chalkboard to use for your own drawings or inspiring words!

Supplies

  • Cereal Box (I used a large sized cereal box), cardboard or poster board
  • Chalkboard Paint (black)
  • Paint brush
  • Hot Glue Gun or extra-strength glue
  • Removable mounting squares
  • Chalk

Directions

  1. If you are using cardboard or poster board: cut a rectangle at least 8 inches wide by 12 inches long for the hat and 12 inches long by 2 inches wide for the brim (but your top hat can be any size you’d like!)
  2. If you are using a Cereal Box: open the seams of the Cereal Box
  3. Cut the panels of the cereal box apart
  4. Take one face panel and one side panel
  5. With the chalkboard paint, paint both panels
  6. Let the panels dry
  7. Attach the side panel to the bottom of the face panel to create the shape of Lincoln’s top hat
  8. Hang Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat Chalkboard 

Donate to a Food Bank

Today can be a day to remember the hardships that many people still endure. Many still live with hunger every day. Today, gather a bag of non-perishable foods and donate them to your local food bank. This activity can also be done by a group—a classroom, scout troop, youth group, or group of friends. Even a little bit helps a lot!

 

February 10 – Library Lovers Day

CPB - Jumping Off Library Shelves

About the Holiday

Today I’ve chosen to celebrate a month-long holiday. February is Library Lovers Month! Chances are if you’re reading this, you also love libraries! For readers there’s no better place than standing in the stacks, surrounded on all sides by shelves and shelves of books. In those pages you meet new friends, defeat the bad guys, discover poetry, laugh, sometimes cry, see astonishing art, find new hobbies, and learn fascinating facts about…wow! Anything and everything!

What’s your favorite library or thing about libraries? Mine is the East Lyme Public Library in Connecticut, where they have a fantastic selection of books and awesome librarians who feel like family! Tell me about your special library in the Comments section below.

Jumping Off Library Shelves: A Book of Poems

Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins | Illustrated by Jane Manning

 

From morning, which “pours spoons of sun through tall windows” of a library in Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem “Breakfast between the Shelves,” to night, when shadowed mice huddle to read a mystery in Dotlich’s closing poem “Midnight in a Library,” kids can enjoy a full day of poems in this delightful collection. Many of today’s best-loved poets for children are represented here, celebrating the power of a library card, the kindness of librarians, and the enchantment of reading.

Jane Manning’s soft, dreamy illustrations swirl with imagination, shimmer with the warm glow of a reading nook, and enchant with the smiles of children thrilled with the pleasures of reading.

Library Lovers Day Activity

CPB - Bookworm Book (2)

 

Bookworm Bookmark

For all you bookworms out there who love to read, here’s your very own Bookworm Bookmark to color and put between the pages of your favorite story!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print out the Bookworm Bookmark template
  2. Color the bookworm
  3. Cut out the Bookworm
  4. Cut the Bookworm’s mouth at the dotted line. The top part of the bookworm’s mouth hangs over the page and marks your place!

February 9 – Pizza Day

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About the Holiday

Every day could be pizza day, but today’s holiday gives us a special reason to enjoy one of the world’s favorite foods! Since ancient times, people have been making pizzas of all kinds from flatbread to deep dish, but they all have one thing in common—they’re delicious! Here are just a few interesting facts about this most delectable of foods:

  • The very first pizzeria opened in Italy in 1738
  • The first pizzeria in America was opened in New York in 1895
  • Pepperoni is the most popular topping
  • Over 3 billion freshly made pizzas and 1 billion frozen pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year

The Princess and the Pizza

 By Mary Jane and Herm Auch

 

Paulina loves being a princess. But when her father, the king, gives up his throne, Paulina needs a job! Things don’t go so smoothly, however, so when she hears that Queen Zelda is looking for a bride for her son, Drupert, she springs into action. Armed with her best ball gown, a tiara, garlic for good luck, and herbs to mask the garlic smell, Paulina is off to Blom to win a prince and her old life back.

Twelve women show up to woo Prince Drupert, and Queen Zelda has plans to find him the perfect wife. She pits the women against each other in three competitions—the pea-under-the-mattress test, the glass slipper fitting, and a feast-preparation contest. Paulina easily passes the first two but is thwarted in the third by the shenanigans of the remaining contestants.

By the time Paulina reaches the table that holds the ingredients for the feasts, the only items left are tomatoes, cheese, and the makings of a dough. Paulina throws them together then decides to take a nap (after first removing the sleep-depriving pea from the bed). Rudely awakened from slumber and given a threat she can’t ignore, Paulina tosses her creation on the fire and sprinkles it with her garlic for good luck and the herbs to mask the smell.

The time for tasting arrives and Paulina presents her tray, hoping for the best. Although the concoction may look a mess, it smells scrumptious and with one taste Prince Drupert proclaims it the winner. And so in one fell swoop our intrepid heroine has invented pizza and won the heart of Prince Drupert. But the whole experience has given Paulina a better idea. She dumps Drupert and opens a Pizza Palace. And while she may not actually be royalty anymore, the townspeople are so thrilled they treat her like a queen. Life again is good, but could her father be falling for Queen Zelda?

Paulina is an appealing modern princess—she’s loaded with self-confidence, never gives up, and knows how to play the game. Kids will love recognizing the references to other favorite fairy tales, and the humorous illustrations of the unflappable Paulina will have them giggling with every page.

Ages: 4 and up

Holiday House, New York 2003 / ISBN 978-0823417988

Pizza Day Activity

CPB - Pizza Day Toppings

Create Your Pizza Game

Play this fun game to build your pizza ingredient by ingredient before the others!          For 2 – 8 players.

Supplies

Directions

February 8 – Opera Day

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About the Holiday

Today celebrates a musical art form that began in the 1500s in Italy. An opera is a play that is entirely sung by the actors. Operas can be funny, romantic, or tragic. The actors must have amazing voices that can fill the whole opera house because they do not use microphones. The actors get to sing solos, called arias, that reveal their emotions about particular moments in the story. Because of its grand history in countries such as Italy, Germany, and France, operas are still more popular in Europe than in the U.S. In America we’re more familiar with musicals, like Frozen orAladdin, where some dialogue is spoken and songs tell more about the plot of the story than about the characters’ feelings. If you’d like to listen to a little bit of an opera for children, check out this video of parts of Little Red Riding Hood performed by the BCOpera.

Father’s Chinese Opera

By Rich Lo

 

Recalling personal experience, author-illustrator Rich Lo writes a unique tale set within the Chinese opera. Revolving around themes pertinent to life, the Chinese opera employs actors as well as acrobats and flag carriers who add action and meaning to the play.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-father's-chinese-opera-acrobats

Copyright Rich Lo, 2014, courtesy of Sky Pony Press.

In Father’s Chinese Opera, the son of the band leader and composer for the Hong Kong opera watches the actors flip and somersault across the stage and dreams of joining them. He approaches Gai Chui, the best acrobat in the troupe and asks to be taught the martial arts. Gai Chui agrees and the little boy begins to learn the moves—Praying Mantis, Crouching Tiger, Striking Leopard, and more. The little boy practices hard and believes he is ready to join the other actors, but when he tells Gai Chui he is ready, the master acrobat laughs and tells him it’s not quite that easy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-father's-chinese-opera-backstage

Copyright Rich Lo, 2014, courtesy of Sky Pony Press.

Dejected, the boy goes home. His father tells him about how hard he worked to become the leader of an opera troupe, and the boy takes the lesson to heart. The next day he goes back to the opera house and instead of watching the actors, he takes note of the flag carriers—the lowest position in the troupe. He asks if he can be a flag carrier, to which his father agrees—but only for the summer.

As a flag carrier, the boy makes new friends, becomes a better acrobat, and impresses Gai Chui, who tells him that with more practice he will be able to achieve his dreams.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-father's-chinese-opera-band-leader

Copyright Rich Lo, 2014, courtesy of Sky Pony Press.

Rich Lo’s story is full of truths about hard work and the benefits of developing a deep understanding of all aspects of one’s skills. Children may find a conversation like this seemingly unfair, but Lo reveals that such teaching on the part of a parent or other adult is one of the ultimate demonstrations of love. 

Lo’s watercolor illustrations are vibrant and dreamy, perfectly reflecting the beauty and action of the Chinese opera that so captivates the story’s young narrator. His father and the orchestra, dressed in their conservative blue and tan suits and sitting at the corner of the stage, contrast starkly with the bold, riotous mosaic of the actors’ costumes and the swirling moves of the acrobats. It’s easy to see why the boy is attracted to this art. It is back home—where the colors once again become muted and quiet—however, that the boy learns his greatest lesson.

Sharing Father’s Chinese Opera with children is an excellent way to discuss the idea that while a talent may be inborn, practice and patience are also needed to see it come to its full fruition. The book would be a valuable addition to home, classroom, and library collecions.

Ages: 3 – 7

Sky Pony Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-1628736106

Opera Day Activity

CPB - Opera Day word search

Opera Word Search

 

Today’s activity is a Word Search puzzle loaded with words about the Chinese opera. Just print out the puzzle and start looking! The Solution is also included.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-father's-chinese-opera-cover

You can find Father’s Chinese Opera at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound