August 26 – National Cherry Popsicle Day

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About the Holiday

On a hot, steamy day, there’s nothing like a popsicle to refresh you! While today’s holiday celebrates the cherry-flavored pop, there are lots of other flavors and combos of flavors to enjoy as well. Like many food innovations, the popsicle has an interesting backstory. It seems that in 1905 when Frank Epperson of San Francisco was 11 years old, he was mixing up a batch of soda on his porch. He left the stirring stick in it overnight. That night the temperatures dropped to freezing, and when Frank came out in the morning, he discovered a new taste sensation. He went on to experiment with fruit flavors. He introduced the first popsicle in 1922 at a fireman’s ball. The treat was a huge success. In 1924, Frank applied for a patent for his “Epsicle.” He later renamed it the popsicle. Today, enjoy your favorite flavor popsicle—nature’s version is coming soon enough!

Food Hide and Sneak

By Bastien Contraire

 

With only one line, Bastien Contraire sends young readers off on a scavenger hunt to find the interloper among the images. “One of these things is almost like the others…,” he prompts, while a page containing three fruits—a red pear with a green stem, a green apple with a red stem, and a lime with a little red end—share space with a red-and-green beach ball. Pretty tricky!

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Copyright Bastien Contraire, 2018, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Turning the page, the hunt gets a little more difficult as there are six candies to search through—or is it five? Hmmm…. The next spread is trickier still with red-and-green vegetables, plus one brown eggplant vying for attention. Wait? Is that red-and-green frilly thing really a veggie? All these decisions can make a reader hungry! Fortunately, you can eat up the next puzzle that’s a delicious lineup of popsicles and ice-cream treats and one… do you see it?

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Copyright Bastien Contraire, 2018, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The next few pages offer fruit, bottles, mushrooms, and an array of sandwiches that are all sheltering one misfit in their midst. Kids will say yum at the variety of desserts they encounter later in the book while quacking up at the odd one out who does a good job of hiding among the pastry. It may take a bit of looking to find the imposter in the deli, and by the end of the book, little ones will surely be able to signal which object doesn’t belong among the cans and jars.

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Copyright Bastien Contraire, 2018, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Bastien Contraire’s series of Hide and Sneak board books are great fun for little readers who love to use their powers of deduction and categorization to solve the puzzles. In his stylized, stenciled images, Contraire cleverly uses red, green, and brown tones as well as the positioning of the items to disguise the outlier just enough to make the hunt challenging. Contraire also adds sly humor to the quest as the nonconformist often has some kind of connection to the other items—a similarity or association that’s fun for readers to discuss.

Enjoyably challenging for young readers, Food Hide and Sneak is an entertaining addition to home, preschool, and kindergarten libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Phaidon Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-0714877235

Discover more about Bastien Contraire, his books, and his art on his website.

National Cherry Popsicle Day Activity

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Patterned Popsicle Sticks

 

Here’s an easy-to-make game for little ones that will challenge their powers of observation while they’re having fun!

Supplies

  • 4 popsicle sticks per set
  • Markers

Directions

For each set of popsicle sticks:

  1. On three popsicle sticks draw the same pattern
  2. On the last popsicle stick change the pattern in some way
  3. Lay the set of popsicle sticks out for a child to choose the stick that is different
  4. Make multiple sets, playing with patterns, colors, and designs

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You can find Food Hide and Sneak at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 17 – National Black Cat Appreciation Day

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About the Holiday

If you want a pet who’s always surprising, loves to play, and will make you laugh, you can’t go wrong with a cat. Frisky kittens and even older, more loafing cats display such varied personalities that each day brings new fun adventures. Today, we celebrate one particular type of cat—the black cat. While black cats are just as loving and cute as tabbies or their tiger-striped friends, they are much less likely to be adopted from shelters or find forever families due to the superstitions that surround them. If you are considering adding a kitten or cat to your family, think about adopting that cute black kitten that is sure to steal your heart.

Bloomsbury Books sent me a copy of Big Box Little Box to check out. All opinions are my own. 

Big Box Little Box

Written by Caryl Hart | Illustrated by Edward Underwood

 

In a house full of boxes, there lives one very happy cat! Do you see her peeking around the “Big box?” The orange and pink striped one that’s tied neatly in red string? Maybe she wonders what is in the “little box” nearby. Wow! Look at all those boxes to hide among on the next page! There’s a “huge box,” a “tiny box, a “thin box” and a “fat box.” The kitty has even found a box to sit on. Oh, no! Now it’s a “flat box.”

The cat has found six more boxes in every color to explore. She’s even found a red one that’s just perfect to nap in. No? Oh well. Two hands pick her up and place her into her own box—a comfy “snore box.” The cat wakes up to more boxes decorated with fancy designs and even some to play dress-up in. Four little boxes for four tiny paws and a pink box perfect to be a “hat box.” But walking? Whoa! “Slippy box. Slidey box” leads to a “Run away and hidey box.”

Here’s a box with a suspicious hole in the corner. Kitty peers inside and “mouse squeaks.” The chase is on: “scurry, pounce, chase, bounce!” Cat and mouse play and sleep, happily becoming “new friends.”

If you’ve ever seen a cat explore any box they find, you’ll know how purr-fectly spot-on Caryl Hart’s Big Box Little Box is! Little ones will be charmed by the cute kitty and the jaunty rhymes that introduce kids to sizes, colors, positions, and even friendship all through (mostly) two-word phrases. Young readers will eagerly read along as they follow the curious cat from page to page and box to box. Humorous asides, including when the kitten is moved from “my box” to “your box” and she and the mouse first spy each other, will delight kids.

Edward Underwood illustrates Hart’s highly entertaining book with verve and humor and gives the cat the kind of playful personality that makes them such endearing companions. The cat’s expressive green eyes peek from and around boxes; she wears boxes as hats, shoes, and hiding places; and, of course, she flops inside a chosen few for several catnaps. The game of cat and mouse is full of action and cheery fun. Bold colors and a dynamic design will keep children riveted to the pages as they have fun learning these early childhood concepts—as well as a bit about cats!

A joy to read aloud, Big Box Little Box would be a sweet and enchanting addition to home and classroom bookshelves. The minimal text offers many opportunities to discuss a wide range of early math and literacy concepts, and the book lends itself easily to learning extensions from drawing to stacking and filling to building. The book would make a fun gift for babies and teachers.

Ages 2 – 6

Bloomsbury Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1681197869

Discover more about Caryl Hart and her books on her website.

National Black Cat Day Activity

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Match the Kittens Puzzle

 

All of these kittens have twins, but they’ve gotten separated while playing. Can you find the matching pairs in this puzzle? Click the link for a printable puzzle!

Match the Kittens Puzzle

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You can find Big Box Little Box at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

April 19 – Poetry and the Creative Mind Day

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About the Holiday

During April we celebrate National Poetry Month, but poetry comes in so many shapes and sizes, genres and presentations that today is set aside to honor both the poets and artists that interpret our world. Sounds like the perfect definition of a poetry picture book! With its rhymes and rhythms and ability to embody emotions from serious to humorous, poetry is often the first type of literature little ones hear. There are so many wonderful collections of poetry for children as well as picture books written in rhyme to share with kids. Today, stop by your local bookstore or library and check some out! And don’t forget to ask about this new book that will be rolling onto shelves soon!

Circle Rolls

Written by Barbara Kanninen | Illustrated by Serge Bloch

 

An achoo! started it all. Well,,, it certainly got the circle rolling. And once circle was on the move, he passed up Oval and solid Square, rolled through the legs on which “Rectangle stands” and up the ramp where “triangle points without any hands.” When Circle came down on Triangle’s point, he popped and rained down “as tiny bits, which land on Square as it sits.”

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Image copyright Serge Bloch, 2018, text copyright Barbara Kanninen, 2018. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

That cold—or whatever—must be catching because suddenly Square sneezes, blowing Diamond into Star, who end-over-end stumbles into straight Line, crumpling him like an up-and-down graph. But  those clever friends just see a slide and so one-by-one those happy “shapes glide…” Oh no! “And fly…and collide!”

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Image copyright Serge Bloch, 2018, text copyright Barbara Kanninen, 2018. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Oval, Rectangle, Triangle, Diamond, and Star toss and tumble in a swirling mess until Octagon knows just what to do. The reeling stops, and the shapes untangle. Circle is still a mass of dots, but “Heart appears and gathers bits.” Everyone helps put circle together, and after a check for any left holes, “ready, set…Circle rolls!”

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Image copyright Serge Bloch, 2018, text copyright Barbara Kanninen, 2018. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Barbara Kanninen’s poetic story is as infectious as that sneeze that sets the shapes in motion in a domino effect that will have little ones laughing more and more with each mishap. As the shapes fly through the air tumbling and tossed, the images of the rectangle, diamond, oval, triangle and star at topsy-turvy angles provides an opportunity for adults to discuss the nature and recognition of shapes and to point out how they remain true even if not presented in the “usual” way.

Children knowledgeable about stop signs will be happy to recognize Octagon’s role and join in stopping the shapes’ shenanigans.  Introducing Heart as the peace-maker and healer is a nice touch and offers a gentle lesson on kindness and cooperation for the youngest readers. You can bet that as Circle gets rolling again, the story will get a second, third, or… reading.

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Image copyright Serge Bloch, 2018, text copyright Barbara Kanninen, 2018. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Serge Bloch’s expressive, glasses-wearing shapes demonstrate their surprise and dismay at the ruckus caused by circle who, despite the cause, seems to be enjoying his somersaulting until he is scattered like a popped balloon by hitting Triangle’s point. Also populating this town of over-sized shapes are tiny sketched-in people who hold the ramp for Circle, open umbrellas as he rains down on them, offers a hanky to sneezing Square, and take part in all the events. They even send an ambulance to the scene of the accident. Kids will love narrating this charming substory that shows the power and caring of community.

Circle Rolls would make a terrific gift (maybe even paired with a set of blocks) for little ones and a go-to book for home and classroom libraries for fun story times and playtimes.

Ages 3 – 5

Phaidon Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-0714876306

To learn more about Serge Bloch, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Poetry and the Creative Mind Day Activity

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Fun Shape Pages

 

Even little ones love making up stories and poems! These two printable shape pages can inspire story time and playtime and a mix of the two!

The Shape of Home Page:

  • Color the page and then tell a story about who lives inside.

Plenty of Shapes Page:

  • Color and add faces to the shapes then cut out them out and use them to make up stories or even a poem.
  • You can also make the shapes from felt or fleece and use another sheet of felt as a background to place them on. Then see what kinds of shenanigans those shapes can get into. You might even want to act out Circle Rolls!

Picture Book Review

November 28 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

Picture books are one of a child’s best gifts! As this month’s literary holiday draws to a close and the gift-giving season opens, consider giving books to the young children and even babies on your shopping list.  Head to your local bookstore to find plenty of exciting and inspiring titles for any child. Not quite sure what to get? Ask your bookseller for a recommendation!

My First Book of Patterns

Written by Bobby and June George | Illustrated by Boyoun Kim

 

Patterns are part of learning from day one. As babies begin navigating and becoming alert to their world, they see, hear, and react to visual and linguistic patterns that inform and form their perceptions of their surroundings and their language. Sharing and making shapes and patterns with children also help them develop an early awareness and understanding of math concepts which translates into future success in school.

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and Jane George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

My First Book of Patterns introduces the youngest readers to nine types of shapes and patterns.. As the book progresses, the text follows its own pattern, allowing children to anticipate what words are coming and giving older listeners the opportunity to read along.

The eye-popping color and dynamic scenes will keep any child enthralled, whether you are sharing the book all at once or just dipping in for a page or two at a time. Speaking of which… let’s check it out! First up is that fundamental shape, the line! A single white line on a pink background is pretty neat, but “a lot of lines make… Stripes!” And stripes can be found all over the underwater landscape—on the turtle’s shell, marking the various rocks, decorating the jellyfish, and coloring the fish and coral.

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and June George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

When that thin line is joined by a thick line and the pattern is repeated, they make plaid. And…Wow! A whole town made of plaid! Blue and purple plaid shirts; green, red, and yellow plaid skirts; plaid backpacks; plaid bags; plaid awnings; and even plaid buildings! This is one city that loooves plaid! Next, is a zig-zag. “A lot of zig-zags make…Chevron!” Look at all the toys decorated in chevron! Little cars, little trains, books, a jack-in-the-box, and blocks too! Hmmm…it seems there are also some lines in this toy shop. Do you think so, too?

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Ah, the square! “A lot of squares make…Checks!” Out on the ocean it’s a checkerboard extravaganza with sails, boats, and even the lighthouse all made out of checks. After the square comes the circle, and lots of circles are called polka dots. Polka dots make everything look cute—from placemats to bowls to vases to…fruit? You bet! Hey! Some of that fruit looks like an individual circle—pretty cool!

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Now the shapes are getting a little more complex. Repeating diamond shapes make harlequin; patterns of diamonds and lines make argyle; connected hexagons form honeycomb; and topsy-turvy teardrops become paisley. And what do you get with a field of flowers? Floral, of course—which makes everything look like springtime!

Ready to go through them again? Open the gate-fold pages and find an ice-cream shop full of your favorite pattern flavor ready to enjoy again!

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and Jane George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Bobby and June George, Montessori educators, present a book that is both straightforward and creative—inviting all children to interact with it in whatever way most resonates with them. Boyoun Kim’s stylistic illustrations add vitality and enthusiasm to each shape and pattern as the introductory pages allow children to see the basic shape or pattern and then give way to a two-page spread where the pattern can be found on a variety of objects.

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and June George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Like a scavenger hunt, these scenes also let little ones find the shapes, such as squares, circles, lines, rectangles, and triangles along the way or on repeated readings. There are also plenty of opportunities for adults to point out or allow their children to find other examples of patterns within the scenes.

My First Book of Patterns is a sturdy board book that makes it a great choice for babies and very young children and also for taking along on outdoor jaunts or for waiting times.

Ages 1 – 6

Phaidon, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714872490

To learn more about Bobby George and his work, visit his website.

Read more about June George and her Montessori school on the baan dek website.

Discover more about Boyoun Kim and view a gallery of her art work on her website.

Picture Book Month Activity

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Book Worm Bookmark

 

If you love books print and color this Book Worm Bookmark. This avid reader will help you keep your place in your favorite books!

Picture Book Review

August 14 – It’s Family Fun Month

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About the Holiday

Every month can be full of family fun, but in August we take time to celebrate the longer, more relaxed days during summer vacation that can lead to special times together. Little ones especially love having fun while exploring and learning about the world. This month look for those spontaneous or planned moments that make good memories!

Circle, Triangle, Elephant! A Book of Shapes & Surprises

By Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi

 

This brightly colored concept book is sure to intrigue little learners and have them giggling while discovering and pointing out shapes, colors, and even doing some counting. On the first page a regular stack of shapes are presented: “triangle, circle, square.” A large blue square gives support to a smaller pink circle while a smaller red triangle creates a bit of a hat on top. The next page rearranges this order and replaces the square with a rectangle. The circle is still pink, but it’s larger and on top. Underneath is an orange rectangle, and balancing these two shapes on its tip is the triangle, now purple.

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Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Turning the page, we find: “triangle, elephant?!, circle” Wait, what?! Oh my! This does shake things up a bit! How did that elephant get between a pink triangle and a red circle? And he’s brought his family! On the next page we find a small elephant standing on a larger elephant who’s standing on a yellow rectangle. I’m sure they’re just passing through and we’ll be back to regular shapes in a second.

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Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Maybe if we turn the page really fast… “elephant, boat!, triangle” Oh! I see, the little elephant is taking a boat ride home, but they have run aground on a teal triangle. Here come “boat, boat, boat” to help! Ah, good! The elephants are safely on their way now. One more boat to go and we’ll be back to… “triangle, face! square.” That’s no ordinary face—it’s cute and clownish. A bit like a jack-in-the-box, really, the way it’s resting on a blue rectangle and wearing a yellow triangle at a jaunty angle.

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Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Okay, okay, on the next page there are… a couple more faces bouncing on a pointy triangle. I hope they’re not balloons! And on the facing page is our original face stacked with a very pretty green rectangle and a bright yellow lemon! Oh! The next page is nice. It makes a bit of a picture: the orange sun is shining above a bus that’s traveling on a green square carpet of grass. Uh-oh! The bus has gone a little off course. On the next page it’s driving on top of two big lemons. “bus, lemon, lemon.” Is that even possible?

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Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Hmmm… what’s this next one? “square, square, square.” Not quite as exciting, you think? Maybe, but look! The top square is yellow, the bottom square is red, and the middle square is…? Orange, right! Good job! Oh this is fun! All right, next we have “square, bird, rectangle” and after that “bird, boat, triangle.” On the facing page a small pink bird and a larger green bird are racing that bus. Go, “bird, bird, bus.”

You know what this book could use? A hat. And there it is! Just around the corner: “hat!, square, bus.” Haha! You’ll love the next page: “hat, hat, elephant.” That elephant looks so dapper wearing two hats. Let’s see what else we can find. Awww! Next there’s “square, triangle, fish!” And what a cutie—blue with little green dots! I guess it’s time to wind this fun down with “triangle, circle, square” and two elephants who would each like to say goodbye with their own very colorful triangles and circles.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-circle-triangle-elephant-birds

Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi have created a concept book that will get little ones excited about learning the names of shapes, colors, and various objects. An enthusiastic reading will have kids laughing and wanting to read along as adults talk with them about what they see on each page. Cleverly constructed, the book invites deeper thought about the shapes and colors presented. The shapes come in different sizes and can also be found within the boat, face, bus, birds, fish, and elephant. Children may discover—on their own or with a bit of help—that with a few adjustments parts of the lemons, elephant, fish, and hats contain or could be made into circles, triangles, squares, or rectangles.

The colors of the shapes and objects are vibrant and eye-catching. The primary colors are all here, but so are the secondary colors and other beautiful mixtures that could lead to an opportunity to get out paints and have fun while experimenting and learning about color.

Circle, Triangle Elephant! A Book of Shapes & Surprises is a wonderful first shapes and colors book for children. It would make a great gift for baby showers, new babies, or toddlers. The sturdy board book is perfect for tucking away in a diaper bag to bring out during waiting times or outdoor activities.

Ages 1 – 5

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874111

Family Fun Month Activity

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Water Color Fun

A splish-splashy way to let kids experiment with colors is to let them explore with a tub or sink full of water and some food coloring. As they drip individual colors into the water, the colors spread, mixing with each other to form new colors.

Supplies

  • A plastic tub, a sink, or a bathtub
  • Food color – one multi-color box
  • An apron or old clothes
  • A spoon or other utensil to mix colors

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Directions

  1. If the child is young and playing at the sink while standing on a stool or chair, adult supervision is advised.
  2. Fill the tub or sink 1/3 to 1/2 way with cool water
  3. Allow child to choose a color from the box
  4. Let the child squeeze the bottle, dropping a bit of color into the water
  5. Let the child choose another color
  6. Before adding this color to the water, talk with your child about what they think will happen when the two colors mix together.
  7. Let the child drop the new color into the water a small distance from the first color
  8. Allow the colors to mix naturally or with a spoon.
  9. You can mix colors in different corners or sections of the tub or sink to see, for instance, what happens when yellow and red food color or blue and red food color mix. What happens if all the colors are mixed together?
  10. Discover your own questions to explore!

Picture Book Review

June 1 – It’s Great Outdoors Month

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About the Holiday

The warmer weather begs to be enjoyed—whether you’re playing, working, or just lounging around. Established in 1998 as Great Outdoors Week, the holiday expanded to a month-long celebration in 2004. There’s so much to see and do outside as the wonders of nature are always changing and challenging you in new and surprising ways.

Round

Written by Joyce Sidman | Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

 

A little girl spies an orange on the ground and bends to pick it up. She sees more—many more—of the brightly colored orbs hanging from a tree and reaches up to touch them. “I love round things,” she says. “I like to feel their smoothness. My hands want to reach around their curves.” The girl continues on her singular scavenger hunt for round things that grow.

She scatters some seeds in a hole and parts tall grasses to peek in on a turtle waiting for her eggs to hatch. On a hillside, a little patch of mushrooms “swell into roundness,” while tiny, plump blueberries beckon on a nearby bush and fill the family’s baskets. On the bike ride home, the girl and her crew pass fields of sunflowers with their dark, mysterious round centers.

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

At the beach the little girl finds seashells in the sand near the tall craggy rocks which some day, whittled by water and wind, will become round when “all the edges wear off.” Back on dry land, the girl watches a dung beetle transport a ball, persistently moving it with its legs, and body motions. The girl stands by, fascinated. She loves “to watch round things move. They are so good at it! Rolling, spinning, bouncing.” She always wonders “where they’re headed.”

An old, old tree, chopped down now, reveals its secret age as the little girl counts the rings in the trunk. She’s excited to discover hidden round things—like the tiny ladybugs and snails concealed beneath green leaves. As the rain splatters a pond, the little girl, safe in her yellow slicker, reveals, “I love how water can be round, gathered in beads of silver…or falling in wet splats leaving circles of ripples behind.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-round-orange-tree

Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, text copyright Joyce Sidman. Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The sun sets, turning the sky yellow and orange, while the girl blows transparent bubbles and watches them float toward the clouds. When the sun is gone and the sky is dark, she gazes through a telescope at the twinkling dots of light that “spin together slowly…and last billions of years” while she waits for that one constant celestial body that grows “rounder and rounder, until the whole sky holds its breath.”

The girl shares the beauty of roundness with her friends as they hold hands in a never-ending circle of friendship, and when she is alone she curls up into a cozy ball to read or feels arms around her in a loving hug.

An explanation of why so many things in nature are round—including the shape’s sturdiness, balance, and ability to spread and roll—follows the text.

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Joyce Sidman’s lyrical story of discovery is a perfect introduction for little ones to the wonders of nature. Focusing on a shape that is familiar to children, Sidman takes them on a walk from grove to field to beach where they can find circles in common and surprising places. After coming home, kids discover an even more poignant idea—the circular beauty of love and friendship.

Taeeun Yoo’s delicate illustrations gorgeously depict examples of circles in nature. Bold sunflowers, tiny insects, snowball-white eggs, expanding ripples, and smooth boulders invite readers to notice the shapes and colors of the wild world around them. Children will be enticed to hunt for all the circles on each page as lily pads, fireflies, polka dots, balloons, the sun, and other objects create an exciting journey of exploration. The little girl’s pets—a dog (appropriately spotted) and a duck—add humor and companionship along the way.

Round would be an excellent take-along book for nature hikes, waiting times, or other outdoor activities and could spur at-home scavenger hunts for circles and other shapes. This original concept book is a wonderful introduction to shapes and nature for little ones.

Ages 3 – 7

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017 | ISBN 978-0544387614

Learn more about Joyce Sidman and her books on her website!

View a gallery of artwork by Taeeun Yoo on her website!

Great Outdoors Month Activity

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Shapely Butterfly Coloring Page

 

This butterfly is made up of many different shapes. Grab your colored pencils, markers, or crayons and have fun coloring this printable Shapely Butterfly Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

December 17 – Maple Syrup Day

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About the Holiday

Pancakes and waffles are great, but they’re even more delicious with maple syrup! That sweet, golden slooow-pouring topping that makes for a perfect breakfast (and breakfast-for-dinner meal) deserves its own holiday! Before you get out into the hustle and bustle of the weekend, why not celebrate a little with a tall stack and lots of maple syrup?!

Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Sometimes a novelty book comes along that transcends the “kid” category and provides fun and “Ooooh!’ moments for readers of all ages. Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book offers just this kind of delicious excitement. Opening the cover is like walking into a cozy kitchen, finding your favorite recipe and gathering all the necessary ingredients. The first two-page spread presents in visuals and words the recipe and the utensils and other cooking items needed to make pancakes.

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

With the second two-page spread, cooking begins! A scoop of baking powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt are added to the bowl. But what about the cup of flour? Readers get to add that themselves with a pull tab that simulates the flour joining the other ingredients in the green mixing bowl. The clever cut of the opening and the mottled and powdery appearance of the illustrated flour gives the sensation of actual pouring.

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

Next readers get to measure out the cup of milk with the help of a pull tab that gives kids control over the amount being served. Four marks on the side of the measuring cup provide an opportunity to talk about fractions and the ¼, ½, and ¾ lines that are also incorporated into real glass measuring cups or the separate cups that come as part of a set. Once the milk is ready, it goes into the mixing bowl with the melted butter and the egg.

Grab your whisk and get stirring! A wheel on the side of the page lets kids “combine” these wet ingredients from their individual parts into a cohesive yellow batter. Now that the batter is ready, it’s time for “STEP 4: Ladle the batter into separate circles in the hot, buttered frying pan.” Readers will love pulling the tab that releases the batter into the pan—leaving just a drop of batter to sizzle on its own (and you know how good those crispy drops can be!)

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

The batter is bubbling—which means it’s time to flip the flap jacks! As the spatula appears from the top of the page, kids can lift one of the little round yellow pancakes from the fry pan and turn it over. Ingeniously, the reverse side is delectably browned. A turn of the page invites by-now-hungry readers to follow “STEP 6: When both sides are browned, stack the finished pancakes on a plate.”

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

A pancake-sized round indentation on the plate just begs to be filled with the browned pancake from the previous page. Adding the pancake to the sunny plate, kids will feel as if they are holding the spatula and carefully slipping it atop a stack ready to be eaten. The last page encourages readers to “add butter, syrup, fruit, jam, lemon juice, honey, or whipped cream and taste what you’ve made! Delicious!”

Lotta Nieminen’s Pancakes! is so wonderfully conceived in its bold vibrant images and simple recitation of a pancake recipe. The crisp lines and absence of labels on the ingredients packages, puts the focus on the shapes, providing a chance for discussion of concepts such as rectangle, circle, half-circle, cylinder, oval, and triangle; flat and round; and bigger and smaller. Ideas such as hot and cold, measuring, pouring, mixing, stacking and others can also be introduced. The brilliant interactive elements invite kids and adults alike to play with this book over and over.

The sturdy board pages and convenient size make this a perfect take-along for trips to the market, picnics, appointments, sibilings’ activities, or other outings where waiting is required. For kids and adults who like to help out in the kitchen, love to cook, or are attracted by all things culinary, Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book makes a terrific gift and must have for home bookshelves. 

Ages 2 and up

Phaidon Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0714872834

To view a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen, visit her website!

Maple Syrup Day Activity

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Pancake Flip-Out

 

Pancakes are served in a stack because they’re so delicious each one doesn’t last long! This game gives you the chance to see how many pancakes you can flip onto a plate! You can play this game several ways:

To Play Pancake Toss

  1. Give each player the same number of pancakes and see how many they can toss onto the plate during their turn
  2. Make a target with the plate in the middle and draw 3 concentric circles around it. Hitting the target can earn you 20 points. Getting your pancake in the first circle around the plate earns you 15 point, the second circle is worth 10 points, and the third is worth 5 points. Rotate through the players as many times as you like and add up the points at the end. The player with the most points wins!
  3. Instead of tossing the pancakes with your hands, try throwing them with a spatula!
  4. Make up your own rules—and have fun!

To Play With Dice

  1. Choose a number of pancakes that each player must add to their plate—say, maybe, a baker’s dozen.
  2. Take turns rolling the dice and adding the number of pancakes rolled to the plate. The first player to reach the agreed-upon number is the winner.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print enough copies of the Pancakes and Breakfast Plates for the game you choose and cut them out. Playing pieces can be printed on card stock or on paper. 
  2. If printing on paper, you can glue the pancakes and plate to poster board, cardboard, or foam to give the pancakes more weight for throwing and the plate more support
  3. Once dry, the game pieces are ready for fun!

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