December 21 – Winter Solstice

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-snowflakes-tasted-like-fruitcake-cover

About the Holiday

At exactly 5:44 a.m. today winter arrives in the Northern Hemisphere. This also means that today offers those living there the least amount of sunshine—only 9 hours, 15 minutes, and 6 seconds. While the earth’s tilt in relation to the sun at this time of year brings cold and snowy weather to the World’s northern half, the Southern Hemisphere is basking in longer days and warm temperatures. For those of us just beginning to enjoy another winter’s chill, the onset of snow brings special beauty, outdoor adventure, and the fun explored in today’s book!

If Snowflakes Tasted Like Fruitcake

By Stacey Previn

 

Snowflakes gently fluttering down from a gray winter sky seem to tease “catch me if you can!” Perhaps it’s their similarity to coconut shavings or confectioners’ sugar sifted over a delicious cake that inspires us to stick our tongues out to taste those little white flakes. But what do they really taste like? And what if they tasted like other yummy foods? Stacey Previn explores that idea, starting with a winter favorite—“If snowflakes tasted like sugar plums…they’d be dancing in my head.” Or perhaps they are better for breakfast—“If snowflakes tasted like oatmeal…they would get me out of bed.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-snowflakes-tasted-like-fruitcake-sugar-plums

Image and text copyright Stacey Previn, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Maybe snowflakes would be better in a mug—“If snowflakes tasted like cocoa…they would warm me to my toes” Or if they came in whipped cream dollops, “they would tickle me on my nose.” Imagine “if snowflakes tasted like apples…” you could “bake them in a pie.” And “if snowflakes tasted like peppermint…” we’d “wish more fell from the sky.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-snowflakes-tasted-like-fruitcake-oatmeal

Image and text copyright Stacey Previn, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Sometimes snowflakes twinkle like diamonds, but what if they were as shiny as gumdrops? Or imagine if they were as warm and soothing as noodle soup. Still, there is that title question: what “if snowflakes tasted like fruitcake?” Well, then, I’m afraid we “would give them all away.” So what is that special flavor that makes us stick out our tongues? “Winter,” of course!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-snowflakes-tasted-like-fruitcake-winter

Image and text copyright Stacey Previn, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Stacey Previn offers up a whimsical, culinary menu of various taste sensations that might entice readers to eat up winter’s delicate, white morsels, including those above as well as honey, figs, chestnuts, gingerbread, popcorn, and marshmallows. Accompanying each verse are richly colored and wood-grain-textured folk-art illustrations that enhance the homey nature of the book. From verse to verse, a red-snowsuited child, joyful to wake to falling snow, imagines shaking snowflakes from tree branches, building a snowman and a snow choir, roasting snowflakes in a pan, catching snowflakes in a spoon, a net, a ladle, and more.

Kids who love playing in the snow—and for whom snowflakes are a delicacy—will delight in curling up with cup of hot chocolate and enjoying the sweet ideas and fanciful humor in this cozy wintertime book. Its sure to inspire kids to think up their own taste comparisons.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499801804

Discover more about Stacey Previn and her books on her website!

Winter Solstice Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mind-jar

Snowy Day Mind Jar

 

You can capture the beauty of a glittering snowfall in this easy craft—that also makes a special gift for a friend!

Supplies

Small to medium mason jar or other decorative jar with a tight lid

White glitter glue,

Light blue glitter glue,

Fine white and/or blue glitter

Large white and/or blue glitter

Warm water

Directions

1.For every 1/2 cup of warm water add:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon blue glitter glue
  • 2 teaspoons fine glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon large glitter

2. Close lid tight

3. Shake

4. As glue dissolves, the liquid will become clearer and the glitter will remain suspended in it

Picture Book Review

 

 

May 9 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-whisper

About the Holiday

Supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), Get Caught Reading Month promotes literacy and reminds people of all ages how much fun reading is. Begun in 1999 by former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, President and CEO of AAP, the initiative brings together publishing industry executives, authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, politicians, celebrities, and readers to spread the word about the joys of books. To join the celebration, take a picture of yourself or a friend reading, hold a book drive, challenge yourself to a reading goal, and/or read to someone else.

The Whisper

By Pamela Zagarenski

 

A little girl loves stories and the magical realms they can take her to. One day while waiting for school to be dismissed, she spies a book on a shelf. Her teacher allows her to take it home with her, and the little girl happily runs off with it when the clock strikes 3:00. On the way home, she doesn’t notice that all the letters are escaping from the book or that a wily fox is catching them in a net.

At home she secludes herself in her room, excited to read the mysterious book. She turns the pages, awed by the beautiful pictures. But by the time she has finished, she has tears in her eyes. “Where were the words? Where were the stories?” The girl flips through the book again, but this time she hears a small whisper: “Dear little girl, don’t be disappointed. You can imagine the words. You can imagine the stories.”

The whisper seems so knowing that the girl does at it suggests. She turns to the first page where a blue bear followed by a beekeeper walks under a honeycomb sun toward a brown bear. The girl stares at the picture and thinks of a title: Blue Bear’s Visit. Her story begins: “Blue Bear arrived on the first day of spring. He promised…”

Warming to the idea of creating stories, the girl examines the second picture. She notices the same white rabbit that was in the first picture. In the foreground a “magnificent ox” is listening to a man whispering into its large, soft ear. The Secret, the little girl titles this story, which starts: “Mr. Ox, you must please promise not to tell anyone, but we need your help. Last week…”

With the third picture the words tumble out more easily, forming sentences that give life to the massive white elephant, regal lion, and that rabbit again who are traveling the sea in a long, open boat. The Quest, she calls it. In Tigers Prayer, preparations are being made: tea is brewing, a clown with a pointed hat plays his accordion, a windhorse jumps through hoops, and the rabbit rides a golden ring as a lion hears what Tiger has to say. A Birthday Party comes next, and it seems Pan has planned a very secret party. An owl perches in the crook of a tree asking for the password with a “Hoo, Who?” which is answered quickly because the vanilla cake with raspberry filling and vanilla cream frosting holding 6 candles must be delivered.

The Magical Cloak sees the little girl’s imagination truly take flight as she decides the man in the “elaborate coat” is a wizard or magician whose bubbles come to life once released from the blower. Enormous whales now fill the harbor. They are beautiful, but something must be done….Next, hurry to meet the owl! He is picking up passengers at midnight. But what does the golden key in his beak open? Only the story The Golden Key locked in the little girl’s mind will tell.

Hours go by as the little girl creates tales for each picture in the book. As the night grows late, she sleeps, carried into slumber on dreams woven from the pictures and stories she imagined. When she wakes up, the girl wishes to spend more time with her new friends, but it’s time for school so she gathers up the book and hurries away.

On the path to school she meets a fox who is carrying a bag. “Excuse me, little girl,” says the fox. “I believe I have the words to your book.” The fox then explains how he caught the words as they spilled from the pages the day before. The fox gives her his parcel, but asks for a favor. The girl is happy to oblige and lets the fox stand on her shoulders to reach a bunch of grapes dangling from a nearby vine.

The girl rushes into school and apologizes for being late. She relates the story of the fox and the words and the magical night she has spent making up tales for the pictures in the book. “I have so many stories to tell you,” says the girl to her teacher. “‘I can’t want to hear,’” the teacher replies with a smile.”

Opening a book by Pamela Zagarenski is to fall into an alternate realm of such beauty and imagination that you forget the real world exists.  Her paintings are composed of rich, regal hues swirling with images and designs that overlap and float to create the kind of experience only the deepest, most complex dreams allow. The characters and details follow page to page uniting the pictures and, subtly, the stories the little girl discovers in them: The teapot, once introduced, waits under a tree on the next page and rides the waves of the whale-filled sea in the next. The bees and the rabbit are constant companions on each spread, and the animals will fill the reader with awe.

The little girl’s imagined stories are tantalizing with just the right mix of the mysterious and the tangible to entice readers to add more. The frame of the Aesop Fable The Fox and the Grapes is inspired and could lead to a conversation about how “life is what you make it.”

The Whisper is a book readers will want to linger over and dip into again and again, and would be especially fun on those days when there’s “nothing” to do. It makes a beautiful gift for any occasion.

Ages 4 – 9 (this book would also appeal to adults)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015 | ISBN 978-0544416864

Gardening for Wildlife Month Activity

In addition to Get Caught Reading Month, May is Gardening for Wildlife Month. It’s the perfect time to celebrate the joys and colors of spring and enjoy the many plants, flowers, and wildlife nature provides. Whether your garden is small or large, just being planted or already blooming, you can be mindful to make yours wildlife friendly to help and protect the environment.

This week’s crafts and activities will revolve around gardens and plants of all types. I hope you enjoy them!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vase

Painted Bottle Vase

Do you often pick up a smoothie or other drink at the grocery store and then just throw away the glass or plastic bottle? Those containers, with their elegant shapes, make beautiful vases with just a little paint!

Supplies

  • Plastic or glass bottle
  • Multi-surface craft paint in your favorite color
  • Paint brush
  • Wax paper

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vase-top

Directions

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry your bottle.
  2. Pour 3 to 5 tablespoons of craft paint into the bottle
  3. Invert the bottle on the wax paper
  4. Let the paint drip down the sides of the bottle, this may take several hours to overnight
  5. When the paint reaches half-way down the sides of the bottle, you can “help it along” with the paintbrush, filling in any empty spaces
  6. Let the bottle sit, inverted, until the paint dries. This can take one to several days, depending on the atmosphere.
  7. When the paint is dry, use the vase for artificial flowers.

Join me tomorrow to see how to make flowers to go in your vase!

Picture Book Review

February 21 – International Mother Language Day

CPB - The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo

About the Holiday

Established in 1999 by UNESCO, Mother Language Day celebrates cultural diversity and promotes the protection of endangered languages. Events include multicultural festivals where all voices are heard and social cohesion, cultural awareness, and tolerance are honored.

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo

By Jonathan Allen

 

Little Rabbit sits in the farmer’s field listening to the animals talk and learning their languages. “Moo,” Little Rabbit repeats, “Moo.” A calf responds and questions Little Rabbit. It turns out that Little Rabbit knows and likes many languages. Calf joins Rabbit in the fun. “Baa,” they say together, which summons Lamb. The three friends decide to try “Oink.” With each new noise, the group expands and enthusiastically continues their linguistic experiment. Finally, after a rousing chorus of “Quack,” Duckling asks if quack is their favorite animal sound. Each animal then reveals with pride that, while they like other noises, they prefer their own. But what about Little Rabbit, who doesn’t “have a big noise?” Will Rabbit’s answer begin the game again?

The wide-eyed, smiling animals in this adorable picture book by author-illustrator Jonathan Allen perfectly captures the joyous camaraderie of good friends discovering the world together. The book is a wonderful introduction for young children to the ideas of inclusiveness and self-esteem. Kids will love the repetition as each new animal joins the group, and will have as much fun saying each sound as Little Rabbit and the other farmyard friends.

Ages 2 – 6

Boxer Books Limited, 2008  ISBN 978-1910126257

International Mother Language Day Activity

CPB - Rabbit Puppet made

Make a Rabbit Puppet

Supplies

  • Rabbit Puppet Template
  • A paper lunch bag
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Cotton Ball
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

Directions

  1. Print the Rabbit Puppet template.
  2. Color the parts of the rabbit and cut them out.
  3. Place the flat paper bag on a table with the bottom flap facing you. Glue or tape the eyes, and the nose and whiskers to the bottom flap. Attach the ears, placing the tabs behind the top of the bottom flap. Attach the paws to the body below the bottom flap. Attach the cotton ball tail to the opposite side of the bag.  
  4. When it’s dry, use your puppet to read The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo again and play along. Let your Little Rabbit try saying “Hi” in the languages below.

Learn to Say “Hello” in Other Languages

  • Spanish: Hola (oh-la)
  • French: Bonjour (bon zhur)
  • German: Hallo (hă-lo)
  • Chinese: Nin Hao (nee hah)
  • Filipino: Kamusta (ka-muh-stah)
  • Italian: Ciao (chi-ow)
  • Japanese: Kon’nichiwa (ko-nee-chee-wah)
  • Turkish: Merhaba (mĕr-hah-bah)

 

 

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!