About the Holiday
With a full calendar of days dedicated to specific topics, causes, holidays, animals, food, places, and emotions, someone thought it would be a good idea to leave one day up to you, and today is it! So if you have a special occasion; a favorite animal; a unique knick-knack; a best-loved book, poem, song, or art piece; or if you just want an excuse to throw a party, celebrate it today!
Animals Hide and Sneak
By Bastien Contraire
Just because things are grouped together, it doesn’t mean they’re the same! In his clever discovery books, Bastien Contraire takes advantage of people’s visual flexibility to offer a book full of puzzles that charm and surprise. In his newest book—a board book for little ones—he uses his striking tri-colored imagery to invite readers to really think about what they are seeing.
Once readers spot the look-alike, they’re enticed to consider the connection between it and the others on the two-page spreads. Opening to the second spread, eight horses of different sizes, mane length, and coloring face off on either side of the split. So, which one is different? Ah! There’s a little rocking horse among them! Children will love talking about what makes it the visitor to the ranch.
The pretty butterflies, with their yellow, violet, and brown markings and frilled wings almost hide the hibiscus flower in their midst. With its fancy petals and thin, center style it seems to fit right in. But isn’t there more of a connection? Young readers will happily tell you! Turn the page and—Yikes!—you’ll find eight wiggly snakes all in a row. Wait a minute, though…one of the snakes is kind of stiff, and is that a buckle for a head? Those dots aren’t markings—they’re holes! And it’s not a snake at all—it’s a belt! So what’s the similarity? Kids and adults can take turns on that one.
Here’s one that’s clever and a pun! A bird crane, a construction crane, a flamingo, and a bird crane. So which one is really the odd-one-out? This one will give readers lots to discuss! Next up is a puzzle you can really sink your teeth into—a group of big cats and one walrus! Also included in the pages are heavy movers, farmyard fowl, dogs, barnyard animals, sheep, tropical birds, and some silly monkeys.
The answers to the puzzles are given in the back of the book.
Bastien Contraire’s stylish stencil prints are eye-catching and cheery. The range of images allows young readers to engage with the book in many different ways from categorizing to shape recognition to counting to logical thought and to just plain fun.
Animals Hide and Sneak is an amusing and entertaining book to enjoy at home “just whenever” and to pack along for playground visits, picnics, waiting times, or other outside adventures.
Ages 1 – 4
Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874227
Learn more about Bastien Contraire and his work on his website!
Just Because Day Activity
Hop Along Matching Game
Just because they wanted to, these crazy frogs have gotten mixed up! Can you find the matching pairs in this Hop Along Matching Game?
Picture Book Review
About the Holiday
Today’s holiday recognizes that some things are just so fun or compelling that you want to do them again and again (ok, yeah…and maybe even again). So if you have a favorite song, show, or activity that you just can’t get enough of, hit that Repeat button and enjoy!
Before and After
By Jean Jullien
In this original and funny concept book, kids learn the idea of “before” and “after” with repeated examples of cause and effect. Opening the book, readers meet a Before soon-to-be mom and dad standing belly to belly. Turning the page, they see After, where a now-svelte Mom smiles as the baby hugs Dad, while riding atop a soft seat. Moving on, a rakish cat begins grooming her paw in a portrait of Before. Soon After she is sparkling clean, and her coat is smooth.
Hmmm…what are those yellow sticks or straws or pasta noodles Before they become ?? Ha! Nailed it! After, those lines became a nice, hot, plate of spaghetti and meatballs! On the next page a child with very long hair is wearing a mischievous look Before. But—Ack! After, that hair has been cut very, very—did I mention very?—short, and the child’s expression is a little bugged out! What’s next? Way After—when the hair is back to its starting point and contentment reigns.
Are you a half-full or a half-empty kind of person? Either way the glass and bottle are partly full Before, and the glass and bottle are partly full After—but in differing amounts. Ah! The age-old question has made an appearance: Which came Before? The egg? And which came After? The chicken? Or is it the other way ‘round?
At the amusement park, a dad and child—every hair in place—wait in the roller coaster car Before. The dad is all smiles; the child a little wary. After, they sport the wind-blown look, while the child is all smiles and the dad is a bit shaken up. So what caused this change? During—which was a loop-the-loop, up-and-down, high-speed, no-hands thrill! A summer day takes its toll on the girl in the next scene: Before, she arrives at the beach with her shades firmly in place. But After a day of fun in the sun, those shades have left a pale mask on her now-burned face.
And so we have come to…The Beginning? Yep, that is definitely the beginning of a Dalmatian. Let’s flip the page and see…Ah, yes! And so we have come to The End! (Or the tail—however you’d like to look at it.)
Jean Jullien’s humorous concept book will have kids and adult readers giggling and wondering what comes next page after page. While the text is minimal, the images offer a wealth of opportunities for kids to build prediction skills and talk about how Before became After. The bold images and backgrounds from a modern color palette—as well as the double fold-out roller coaster spread—will engage readers and make Before & After as much an art book as a fun learning tool.
A fun take-along book on outings or for waiting times, Before & After can spur your own game of contrasts.
Ages 2 – 5
Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874081
View a portfolio of artwork by Jean Jullien on his website!
Repeat Day Activity
Flying Origami Find the Differences Puzzle
These two kids are making origami. While these pictures may look like repeats, there are ten differences. Can you find them all in this printable Flying Origami Find the Differences Puzzle?
Picture Book Review
About the Holiday
With the onset of spring, our feathered friends are busy building nests and hatching little ones. The return of birds to backyards, parks, and beaches as well as the increased activity gives budding nature artists the perfect opportunity to try their hand at sketching these favorite colorful creatures. Whether you prefer to make detailed renderings or simple line drawings, today’s holiday should inspire you to grab your pencil or paints and create!
Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso
First Concepts with Fine Artists | Illustrations by Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso, “one of the most famous artists who ever lived,” was a prodigy who loved to draw animals of all kinds. Perhaps best known for his abstract portraits and his colorful canvases, Picasso also created line drawings, many of which were “inspired by poems about animals written by his friend Guillaume Apollinaire, a famous French poet.” The illustrations in Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso come from Picasso’s notebooks and, combined, make a wonderfully conceived concept book for little ones.
Opening to the first page, readers meet three birds, one perhaps a little more steady on its feet than the others. Four more birds follow on the next page, a few gamely trying to stand on one leg like the regal flamingos behind them. From the tropical home of the flamingo, readers next travel to a snowy clime, where “penguins are birds who waddle over snow.”
“Cock-a-doodle-doo!” Don’t snooze! The rooster wants you to know that he is a bird too! Of course, “some birds fly,” and many insects have wings too. Flies fly and wasps fly. How about grasshoppers? They prefer to hop! Who else likes to hop? “Bunnies hop…especially to get away from hungry foxes. Does [the] fox look hungry to you?”
Some animals seem to be hungry all the time—like the squirrel on the next page (you know how squirrels are!) and the camel, whose “humps are small. When she eats, her humps will grow!” Do you like dogs? “This little dog has no humps—he’s long like a hot dog!” His friend is a big dog who can do tricks. Horses can learn tricks too and perform for people. They can even rear up and stand on two legs! You know who can’t stand on two legs? Right! Fish! “They swim! Turtles swim too.”
But we were talking about birds, weren’t we? There are some birds that are like fish. The pelican is a bird who likes to swim—of course, it likes to eat fish too. The ostrich is too big for either flying or swimming, but it can run—really fast! There are so many kinds of birds, aren’t there? Peacocks have long, colorful tail feathers, and owls like the nighttime. Yes, there are so many birds, “beautiful birds.”
The First Concepts with Fine Artists series by Phaidon Press is one of my favorite new collections for babies, toddlers, and even older kids. As an art lover, I’m impressed with the variety of styles and artists introduced to young children who will be attracted to the colors, shapes, and movement in the chosen artwork. As someone who works with words, I love the way the art is tied together with engaging and conversational text.
Birds and Other Animals with Pablo Picasso will enchant little ones with whimsical line drawings of animals that embody charming poise and personality. Each page invites readers to create stories of their own about the characters they see, and both children and adults will enjoy running a finger along the line to discover that most of the animals in this sturdy board book are created from one smooth stroke. Along the way, kids learn facts about certain animals, discover how shapes work together, and find objects to count.
Line it all up and Birds and Other Animals with Pablo Picasso rewards readers with sophisticated fun. The book would make a lovely new baby gift or a delightful addition to young children’s home libraries.
Ages 2 – 5
Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874180
Draw a Picture of a Bird Day Activity
Flight of Fancy Bird Drawings
Birds come in all shapes and sizes—which kind of bird is your favorite? With these two printables you can learn how to draw a bird and color a pair of birds who are busy collecting flowers!
Picture Book Review
About the Holiday
Youth Art Month was established in 1961 by the Crayon, Water Color, and Craft Institute in conjunction with the National Art Education Association to emphasize the value of participating in art for all children. Involvement in the visual arts improves problem solving, observation, creativity, and communications skills. The observance continued to grow, later including secondary school students in 1969 and the creation of the Council of Art Education to oversee the month’s events in 1984.
Art shows, special exhibits, school and community events, and fundraisers are all part of the celebration. The highlight of the month is the School Flags Across America…Flying High competition in which students design a flag around a particular state theme. The flags are judged and the winning flag from each state is made into an actual flag and flown with the others in Washington DC. A child’s love of art often begins early as they are exposed to a variety of beautiful images in picture books, such as today’s original concept book.
By Agnese Baruzzi
Opposite Surprise poses a series of questions that invite young children to ponder various opposites while also challenging their perceptions. For instance, is the blue truck on the opposite page small or big? Well, in comparison to what, you might ask. A flip of the half-fold flap answers this question and allows readers to say that the blue truck is small when compared to the big digger behind it.
Is there one sheep on the next page or many? It seems that the gray sheep is standing alone, but pulling the flap reveals a whole flock of diverse sheep. Now, how about that fancy, blue box—is it empty or full? Empty you might reply quickly, but perhaps…. With a tug on the page, kids discover that this container is not a box but an aquarium teeming with fish of all sizes! Toot, toot! A little train is chugging along on the next page. Is it short or long? With just an engine and a caboose, the train appears short. In reality, though, there’s plenty of room for passengers in the train’s two long cars.
Look at that cute orange caterpillar! Is it straight or curvy? Opening the flap will make kids giggle to see just what a wiggly guy this is! The next one is easy-peasy! Hot or Cold? Anyone can see that the sun is hot, hot, hot! But wait! A gentle pull exposes two delicious (and dripping) ice pops! There’s a little bit for both neatniks and messy-types on the next page as the crisp, clean red shirt suddenly becomes dirty with the flick of the flap.
Turning the page reveals a window. Are the shutters closed or open? It would appear they are closed, shutting out the view. But with a simple pull they open, letting in the sun for the plant and the bird on the windowsill. Now, seriously, must we debate slow or fast when a tiny turtle is the subject of the question? Apparently so, because readers discover that nothing is what it seems when they open the flap to find the turtle transformed into a jet plane soaring through the sky. And finally, readers come to a yellow pencil. Is it thin or wide? Standing straight and tall, it hardly takes up more room than a pinky finger. But with the page stretched out, that thin pencil becomes the sides of a bridge wide enough to span a river.
Agnese Baruzzi’s unique concept books goes beyond the usual clear-cut definitions of opposites to present a new way of looking at and interacting with the world. Her smart, colorful illustrations invite little readers to answer not only the prompted question, but to explore further. The little blue truck is small, yes, but it is also smaller than the digger. This one page also invites adults to talk about the idea of “in front of” and “behind.” Throughout the book there are opportunities to count, talk about direction and spatial relationships; discuss why the ice-pops are melting; and explore many more topics that are the building blocks for reading, speech, and math literacy.
Opposite Surprise would be a fantastic baby shower or new baby gift; a wonderful take-along for car rides, outings, or wait times; and an excellent addition to toddler’s bookshelves as well as library and classroom collections.
Ages birth – 5
Minedition, 2017 | ISBN 978-9888341375
Youth Art Month Activity
Fun Framed Drawing Page
Use this printable Fun Framed Drawing Page to make your own creation, family flag, or story!
Picture Book Review
About the Holiday
I must confess that today’s holiday is one of my favorites. Even as a kid I howled at the unintentional ridiculousness misplaced punctuation and poor editing created and absolutely loved diagramming sentences (I know, right?!). While the rules of grammar in any language may sometimes seem confusing and unnecessary, they help structure the language so what you write and say makes sense and exactly states your meaning. National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by author Martha Brockenbrough, the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.
Little White Fish Is So Happy
By Guido Van Genechten
Little White Fish has been swimming on his own, but is so happy that his “mom is coming to get him.” Before he leaves, however, he wants to say “goodbye” to his many friends. “Bye-bye, snail in the shell,” he burbles. The “frog on the rock” also receives a happy “goodbye.” Little seahorse is playing under a leaf, but Little White Fish spies him.
Crab waves from behind a stone as Little White Fish swims by, and goldfish smiles at him from his spot “between the reeds.” As Little White Fish sends his friends a final farewell, they all stand “next to each other” to see him off. The best part of going home for Little White Fish, though, may be getting to swim “in front of” his mom!
In Little White Fish Is So Happy, young grammarians are introduced to a few of the most common prepositions, with clear visuals to reinforce their meaning. Bold type prompts adult readers to emphasize the prepositions and to expand on the idea by pointing out how the words apply to each particular sea creature. The endearing relationship among these friends will charm young children as the idea of being away from home is presented in an upbeat way that encourages independence while also reassuring little ones of parents’ love and attention.
Well Done, Little White Fish
By Guido Van Genechten
Little White Fish is visiting his friends. First up is crab who is “can cut sea grass with his claws.” This is a pretty cool talent, and Little White Fish wonders what he can do. Turtle is strong enough to carry a rock on his shell, and “sea urchin easily does seven somersaults in a row. And Little White Fish? What can he do?”
Wow! Little jellyfish “can light up the dark.” Little White Fish is astonished; he knows he can’t do that. Starfish is like a ballet dancer when she stands on one leg. “Little White Fish doesn’t even have legs….” Little White Fish knows he must watch out for Octopus when he spits out ink, and he likes playing over and under with sea snake when he makes “a beautiful arch.”
And Little White Fish? He “can swim really well, even backwards and upside down!” Now it’s time for his friends to be amazed, and as Little White Fish swims around his group of friends, they all cheer and applaud his special talent.
Well Done, Little White Fish explores individuality as the small fish watches each of his friends demonstrate their talents. At first everyone seems to be cleverer, stronger, and more agile than he is, but when Little White Fish displays his swimming skills, he learns that he too is unique. Bold text points out each creature’s special ability and can also serve as a gentle lesson about verbs. Van Genechten’s adorable sea creatures, with their ready smiles and buoyant enthusiasm, will delight young children as they learn facts about nature while embracing these characters.
Guido Van Genechten’s Little White Fish books, including Little White Fish, Little White Fish Has a Party, and Little White Fish Has Many Friends, make a sweet series for the youngest readers. The spare text is lively and cheerful and makes use of the type of repetition that little ones respond to. The bold, multicolored and multilayered illustrations set on a black background are eye-catching. Small children will love the smiling sea creatures and the playful relationship among the friends.
Ages 2 – 5
Clavis Publishing, 2017
Little White Fish Is So Happy | ISBN 978-1605373263
Well Done, Little White Fish | ISBN 978-1605373270
Grammar Day Activity
Active Words Playtime
It can be fun to teach grammar by playing! Prepositions such as up, down, under, in, on, through, over, and out can provide opportunities for active fun inside or outside. A playground is a perfect place to demonstrate prepositions to kids while they climb, slide, crawl, and swing on the equipment.
Inside, all you might need is a large box or a homemade pillow fort to build your child’s vocabulary. Kids will love jumping up, crouching down, getting in the box or fort, getting out of the box or fort. Pillows or an open-ended box make a great tunnel to crawl through. You and your child can even make up a story to go along with the actions.
That old perennial favorite Simon Says is another great way to play with grammar, so get creative…and enjoy grammar!
Picture Book Review
About the Holiday
If you love pancakes dotted with luscious blueberries then today is for you! Do you have blueberries in your freezer, frozen fresh from the summer harvest? Then this is the perfect reason to bring them out for a delicious breakfast! If not stop by a store and get a pint—pancakes are great for dinner too!
Written by Susan Musgrave | Illustrated by Esperança Melo
When the blueberries are ripe, the siblings in this adorable picture book live in a blueberry world. The brother and sister are all smiles with their bowl full of berries, and soon they have “Blueberry cheeks, blueberry chin. / Blueberry teeth, blueberry grin. / Blueberry fingers, blueberry nose. / Blueberry lips, blueberry toes.” Oops! After all that yummy, tasty blueberry gobbling, the bowl is empty, eliciting a call for “More Blueberries!”
The scrumptious berries find their way into pancakes, muffins, mush, and slush, ice cream, cake—and even cause a bit of an ache. But with a small burp, the cry goes out for MORE BLUEBERRIES! The kids aren’t the only ones who love the season’s fruit—a cat chases them as they roll away, and a cawing crow carries one in its beak like the finest of pearls.
Frogs hop on blueberries with a pop and a splat while teddy bears gulp them down in no time flat. “Meow,” says the cat. “Caw,” says the crow. “Ribbit,” says the frog, and “Grrrrrrr,” says the bear as they all shout for MORE BLUEBERRIES!
But the day is waning and while bath time beckons there’s still more time to turn bathwater blue, sail berries in a tug, wash with blueberry soap and blueberry shampoo. Finally it’s nightime with “Blueberry jammies, / blueberry yawn. / Blueberry bedtime, / blueberries gone.” As the little girl and boy drift off to sleep to dream about blueberries, they snuggle with their teddy bear and froggy toys, leave their crow book until tomorrow, and sleep peacefully under the watchful eye of their cat.
Susan Musgrave’s irresistibly catchy rhymes burst with flavor and will make More Blueberries a favorite story time read for young children. The repeated “blueberry” (such a wonderfully alliterative word!) will capture kids’ imagination and give them the pleasure of reading along even at very early ages. Beyond the fun of the blueberry theme, this book makes an entertaining concept book to teach parts of the body, food, and clothing.
Esperança Melo’s endearing illustrations perfectly depict the messy, delicious, enthusiasm small children develop for certain foods or objects. The sister with her curly mass of brown hair and her brother with spiky blond hair are human canvases of blueberry-painted faces, hands, and feet while their infectious grins display stained teeth and tongues. Their household surroundings are appropriately blue, and even their pets and toys get in on the action.
More Blueberries would be a sweet addition to any child’s book shelf, one that is sure to be asked for again and again!
Ages Birth – 4
Orca Book Publishers, Board book, 2015 ISBN 978-1459807075 | Paperback, 2017 ISBN 9781459815056
Visit Esperança Melo’s website to view her illustrations and paintings portfolio!
To learn more about Susan Musgrave’s books for children and adults visit her website!
Blueberry Pancake Day Activity
Flip for Pancakes Word Search Puzzle
Flipping pancakes is the best part of making this delicious breakfast—except for eating it! Can you find 20 pancake-related words in this printable Flip for Pancakes Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution.
Picture Book Review