April 12 – Walk on Your Wild Side Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-catawampus-cat-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established to encourage people to have courage and do that thing inside them that might be a little different or way out there, but actually defines them. Without people who have explored those other possibilities, the world would be missing out on some amazing art, inventions, innovations, music, and, of course, books! To celebrate, unleash your inner you or go a little wild. Who knows? It might become a regular thing that makes you happy!

The Catawampus Cat

Written by Jason Carter Eaton | Illustrated by Gus Gordon

 

On a regular Tuesday morning, the catawampus cat came into town “slightly askew.” Everyone was busy, so no one saw him until Mr. Grouse, the grocer, noticed his unusual walk and “tried to straighten him out.” His wife Lydia, who for twenty years had been chilly to her husband, asked what was wrong with the cat, and they both tilted their heads to study him. There, under the vegetable stand, they saw Lydia’s wedding ring lost twenty years before, and suddenly Mr. Grouse noticed that Lydia looked just as she did when they first met. “They kissed and on walked the catawampus cat, still askew…”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-catawampus-cat-house

Image copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, text copyright Jason Carter Eaton, 2017. Courtesy of Crown Books for Young People.

The bored barber, “Bob Long, who was giving a woman a long bob,” saw the catawampus cat from his window and was so startled he snipped, and clipped the woman’s bangs at an angle. She loved it, and the catawampus cat continued on. He passed Tom who was painting the Mayor’s house in the usual way until he tilted his head to get a better look and scribbled a diagonal stripe down the front of the house. “‘Brilliant!’ Exclaimed Mayor Meyer. ‘A work of art!’”

The town daredevil made a world record after spotting the cat. The town librarian had a life-changing revelation after seeing the cat. And little Bushy Brows Billiam, suddenly understood his lesson better by looking at things a bit differently.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-catawampus-cat-library-full

Image copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, text copyright Jason Carter Eaton, 2017. Courtesy of Crown Books for Young People.

All through town, people began tilting their head and even walking at a slant. Architects began building homes, apartments, and stores that leaned, and car makers designed “off-kilter” vehicles. The effect on the town and the people was amazing. They found favorite possessions they thought lost forever, “and rediscovered old friends they thought they’d never know again.” The first Tuesday of the year was designated “Catawampus Cat Day.” Confetti was flung at an angle, a band played off-key, and the crowd was entirely catawampus.

“‘Well? What do you think of it?’” Mayer Meyer excitedly asked the catawampus cat. “‘We’re all different now, just like you.’” The catawampus cat gazed at him thoughtfully, then stretched, “straightened himself out…and walked out of town, once again uniquely catawampus.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-catawampus-cat-school

Image copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, text copyright Jason Carter Eaton, 2017. Courtesy of Crown Books for Young People.

In his delightfully inventive story, Jason Carter Eaton rejoices in all those people (and cats) who walk their own way through life. He encourages young readers to embrace their uniqueness, telling them it’s a good thing to view the world with a different perspective. Even as the catawampus cat inspires the townspeople, Eaton strikes a humorous cautionary note about the nature of fads. He also happily reminds readers that the truly innovative will always find a way to be different.

Gus Gordon’s adorably confident cat sets off his chain reaction of “uniqueness” in detailed mixed-media illustrations that provide lots of opportunities for kids to discover new (and old—sometimes even antique) perspectives as they watch the catawampus cat walk through this diverse town in his own particular way. Surprising and funny details drawn in along the way will also have readers lingering and giggling over each page. Cat lovers will recognize some endearing cat-titudes in the catawampus cat that make feline friends so loveable. The endpapers provide a map of the catawampus cat’s route through this very lucky town.

Smile- and laugh-inducing from cover to cover, The Catawampus Cat would be a favorite and often-asked-for choice for home and classroom libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0553509717

To learn more about Gus Gordon, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Walk on Your Wild Side Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wooden-bead-cat-craft

A Little Ball of Kitten Love

 

This sweet little kitten is easy to make and can keep you company on your desk or shelf! Since every kitten is different, you can make yours to look just the way you want. Here’s how I made mine:

Supplies

  • Wooden ball with a flat bottom, available in craft stores and in different sizes
  • Craft paint in any color kitten you’d like (I used red and yellow and mixed it to make a mottled orange)
  • Craft paint in pink or white for the inner ear
  • Scrap of fleece for the ears. Fleece is easily shaped to the rounded ball and when painted is stiff enough to stand up on its own.
  • Thin, colored wire in several colors for the tail (string or twine, wrapped wire, fleece, stiff paper, and other materials could also be used)
  • Paint brush
  • Permanent marker for making the face
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden ball and let dry
  2. Paint the scrap of fleece to match the wooden ball, let dry
  3. Cut out small triangular shapes for the ears. Round the bottom of the ears slightly so they fit the shape of the ball
  4. If making a tail from several colors of thin wire, twist them together, leaving one end untwisted
  5. With the glue gun or strong glue attach the ears to the top of the head
  6. With the glue gun attach the tail to the back of the wooden ball in the center near the base
  7. With the marker, draw eyes, nose, and mouth for the face and semicircles near the bottom for the paws

October 28 – Make a Difference Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bonaparte-falls-apart-cover

About the Holiday

Make a Difference Day was instituted in 1992 on February 29 – leap day – to encourage individuals and groups to find a way to help others. The idea took off and has become one of the largest single-day celebration of service nationwide. Thousands of people across the country use this day for projects big and small that change the world for the better. To celebrate today consider how you might make a positive change. As today’s book shows, just being a caring friend can go a long way in making someone’s life better.

Bonaparte Falls Apart

Written by Margery Cuyler | Illustrated by Will Terry

 

Something was happening to Bonaparte. Whenever “he rode his bike or played catch or visited the doctor’s office”—basically all the time—his bones broke apart. “Sometimes his bones rolled away, and it took him forever to find them.” He wondered what would happen when school started. He was worried that everyone would make fun of him.

Bonaparte’s friend Franky Stein thought that by gluing and screwing his bones into place, Bonaparte would stick together. But when they tried it, Bonaparte found that he couldn’t move at all. Blacky Widow, Bonaparte’s spider buddy, figured she could tie his bones together with her web, but after she had spun and spun her threads around him, Bonaparte was just left hanging and tangled up.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bonaparte-falls-apart-crow

Image copyright Will Terry, 2017, courtesy of Crown Books for Young Readers.

Mummicula thought he had the perfect solution and wrapped Bonaparte round and round until he was completely wrapped up—completely. Bonaparte couldn’t see anything, so “Mummicula had to undo all his hard work.” While the summer passed, Bonaparte grew more and more worried. One day he thought about it so much “that his head fell off.”

As Franky Stein picked it up and returned it to its rightful spot, he and the others all vowed to find a way to solve the problem before school started. They tried lots of remedies: Mummicula thought a staple gun might work; Blacky Widow liked the idea of using clay, and Franky Stein got out his hammer and nails. But nothing did the trick “until…a dog ran by with a bone in his mouth.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bonaparte-falls-apart-mandible

Image copyright Will Terry, 2017, courtesy of Crown Books for Young Readers.

Mummicula suggested that someone who loved bones so much would be a perfect companion for Bonaparte. They brought the dog to Bonaparte, and Bonaparte was immediately smitten. “‘What a fetching dog!’” he exclaimed. Then Franky told him the plan: “‘You can teach him to retrieve your bones.’” Bonaparte loved this idea—and his crew. “‘You are my bone-a-fide friends!’” he said.

Bonaparte spent the last two weeks before school started teaching Mandible to fetch the bones he lost. As he waited at the bus stop that first day, Bonaparte was still a little nervous, but as his arm and the ball flew out into home-run territory, the kids cheered. At lunch, losing his teeth just made him a “jaw-dropping sensation, and in science class he made for a “rib-tickling wonder” of a skeletal exhibit. At last, Bonaparte realized that he “could hang loose without anyone making fun of him, and this made him very happy.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bonaparte-falls-apart-jungle-gym

Image copyright Will Terry, 2017, courtesy of Crown Books for Young Readers.

Margery Cuyler’s monstrously cute story of a little skeleton who just can’t keep it together will have kids giggling along with every “clack clack” of Bonaparte’s errant bones. But Cuyler presents more profound issues as well. Readers will understand and sympathize with Bonaparte’s worrying over being different and made fun of because of his unusual plight. Through Bonaparte’s caring, tight-knit group, children will see that by supporting a friend through tough times, they can help find solutions and make a positive difference. Cuyler’s charming story is true to children’s natures and ideas and offers a “bone-anza” of puns that will delight kids.

Will Terry knows a thing or two about monsters—adorable monsters, that is. As Bonaparte’s hands drop off, legs and arms go flying, and head rolls under the bed, his expressive eyes seem to take it all in stride. He also accepts his friends’ attempts to keep him together with patience and an endearing smile. Franky Stein, Mummicula and Blacky Widow are also sweetly earnest in their attempts to help. Kids will love the hilarious illustrations of Bonaparte and Mandible at school and linger over the last two-page spread where young zombies, pirates, vampires, witches, and other students play on the jungle gym.

Bonaparte Falls Apart is a unique book about friendship and school for any time of the year, and would be a favorite of little monster lovers for home and the classroom.

Ages 3 – 7

Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN  978-1101937686

Discover more about Margery Cuyler and her many books for children on her website.

You’ll find a gallery of books and artwork by Will Terry on his website.

Make a Difference Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hot-chocolate-jar

Friendship Hot Chocolate Jar

 

Being a good friend is one of the best ways to make a difference, and with this gift you can show your friends how much they mean to you!

Supplies

  • Mason jar or other wide-mouth jar
  • Large canister of hot chocolate mix
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips, milk chocolate or semi-sweet
  • A scrap of material large enough to cover the lid of the jar
  • Paper
  • String or ribbon
  • Marker
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Measure 1 cup hot chocolate mix and pour it into the jar
  2. Sprinkle in a layer of marshmallows
  3. Pour in another 1 cup of hot chocolate mix
  4. Add another layer of marshmallows
  5. Continue layering until you reach the top of the jar. The hot chocolate mix and marshmallows may become mixed together.
  6. Top with a layer of chocolate chips
  7. Put on the lid and tighten
  8. Cut a circle from the material 1-inch diameter larger around than the size of the jar lid
  9. Secure the material around the lid with ribbon or string or, if using a mason jar, place it between the sections of the lid.
  10. Make a tag for your gift with the paper
  11. Give your gift and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with your friend!

Picture Book Review

October 21 – It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-cover

About the Holiday

If you love dogs and are thinking of adding a new member to the family, this month is the perfect time to consider taking in a shelter dog. These puppies and older dogs have lots of love to give and are waiting for families who will love them in return. Your local animal shelter or humane society can help you pick out just the right companion. Another way to celebrate this month’s holiday is to donate to your local shelter. Many are happy to accept supplies, treats, or your time.

The Perfect Dog

By Keven O’Malley

 

Getting a dog is a major decision. Paramount, perhaps, is what type of dog is best, and with so many breeds, how do you break it down? When the little girl in The Perfect Dog receives permission to get a dog, she begins her list for just the right pet. “The perfect dog should be big” she says as she imagines holding a Chow Chow. Or maybe “bigger” like a German Shepherd, or even “biggest” like a Saint Bernard that stands taller than she is. But a Great Dane? Maybe not that big.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-smaller

Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

On the other hand maybe “the perfect dog should be small”—standing around knee height—or “smaller”—mid shin height—or “smallest”—able to fit in a purse. But small enough to sit on her head? Maybe not that small. Next she considers the length of the dog’s hair. “The perfect dog should have long hair,” she believes, already assembling her grooming supplies to plump a poodle’s coif. Or the “longer” hair of a Sheep Dog might be fun to comb and cut, and the “longest” hair of an Afghan Hound would be a dream to brush. But the locks of a Komondor? Maybe not that long.

The girl knows the dog should not be too loud or too slobbery, but it should definitely be “fancy.” Speed is also a consideration. “Fast” as a Beagle? Maybe “faster,” like a Dalmatian. But “fastest,” like a Greyhound, could make walking the dog a challenge. Snuggly is nice for quiet times, but a dog so snuggly it takes over the whole chair is not what the girl has in mind. The little girl does not want a pet that is too slow or too messy either.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-choosing-a-dog

Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

The day finally arrives for the girl and her family to pick out their new pet. There are so many to choose from! Looking into each face and taking each dog’s traits and qualities into consideration, the family decides that “the perfect dog should be happy…happier…happiest!” But there’s still one surprise waiting. Instead of the girl choosing the perfect dog, she reveals that “the perfect dog found me!” And it was a very happy ending!

Part concept book, part tribute to people’s “best friend,” Kevin O’Malley’s The Perfect Dog is a fun romp through different breeds and their unique qualities. If you’ve ever attended a dog show or watched one on TV, you know that there are as many types of canines as there are people. O’Malley applies the language concept of superlatives to describe big, bigger, biggest; long, longer, longest; and other shapes, sizes, and traits in a way that attracts kids’ attention and fosters understanding.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-happy-dog

Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

As the little girl “tries out” various dogs, O’Malley’s bold, full-bleed illustrations proceed from funny to funnier to funniest, often to the little girl’s dismay. She gets knocked down by the biggest of biggest dogs, finds herself hidden in the longest of longest hair, and flies straight out from the end of the leash attached to the fastest of fastest dogs.

O’Malley knows, too, the real secret about choosing a new pet—one that kids will delight in, just as they do in this book. For any pet lover The Perfect Dog is…perfect!

Ages 3 – 8

Crown Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2016 | ISBN 978-1101934418

Be sure to visit Kevin O’Malley’s website! You can learn more about his books, watch a video of one of his school visits, and even download free books!

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dog-breeds-word-search

I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search

 

Dogs are adorable and come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Find the names of 26 types of dogs in this printable I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search!

Picture Book Review

August 4 – Assistance Dog Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday comes during International Assistance Dog Week, a time to recognize the work and benefits of canine helpers of all types. Assistance dogs offer comfort, independence, and reassurance to people who have them as members of the family. Not only do dogs of various breeds help the vision and hearing challenged, but they are also trained to recognize the signs of medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, seizures, and epilepsy. Owners of these friends and helpers know that they have the perfect dog, just like the little girl in today’s book!

The Perfect Dog

By Keven O’Malley

 

Getting a dog is a major decision. Paramount, perhaps, is what type of dog is best, and with so many breeds, how do you break it down? When the little girl in The Perfect Dog receives permission to get a dog, she begins her list for just the right pet. “The perfect dog should be big” she says as she imagines holding a Chow Chow. Or maybe “bigger” like a German Shephard, or even “biggest” like a Saint Bernard that stands taller than she is. But a Great Dane? Maybe not that big.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-smaller

Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

 

On the other hand maybe “the perfect dog should be small”—standing around knee height—or “smaller”—mid shin height—or “smallest”—able to fit in a purse. But small enough to sit on her head? Maybe not that small. Next she considers the length of the dog’s hair. “The perfect dog should have long hair,” she believes, already assembling her grooming supplies to plump a poodle’s coif. Or the “longer” hair of a Sheep Dog might be fun to comb and cut, and the “longest” hair of an Afghan Hound would be a dream to brush. But the locks of a Komondor? Maybe not that long.

The girl knows the dog should not be too loud or too slobbery, but it should definitely be “fancy.” Speed is also a consideration. “Fast” as a Beagle? Maybe “faster,” like a Dalmatian. But “fastest,” like a Greyhound, could make walking the dog a challenge. Snuggly is nice for quiet times, but a dog so snuggly it takes over the whole chair is not what the girl has in mind. The little girl does not want a pet that is too slow or too messy either.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-choosing-a-dog

Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

The day finally arrives for the girl and her family to pick out their new pet. There are so many to choose from! Looking into each face and taking each dog’s traits and qualities into consideration, the family decides that “the perfect dog should be happy…happier…happiest!” But there’s still one surprise waiting. Instead of the girl choosing the perfect dog, she reveals that “the perfect dog found me!” And it was a very happy ending!

Part concept book, part tribute to people’s “best friend,” Kevin O’Malley’s The Perfect Dog is a fun romp through different breeds and their unique qualities. If you’ve ever attended a dog show or watched one on TV, you know that there are as many types of canines as there are people. O’Malley applies the language concept of superlatives to describe big, bigger, biggest; long, longer, longest; and other shapes, sizes, and traits in a way that attracts kids’ attention and fosters understanding.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-happy-dog

Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

As the little girl “tries out” various dogs, O’Malley’s bold, full-bleed illustrations proceed from funny to funnier to funniest, often to the little girl’s dismay. She gets knocked down by the biggest of biggest dogs, finds herself hidden in the longest of longest hair, and flies straight out from the end of the leash attached to the fastest of fastest dogs.

O’Malley knows, too, the real secret about choosing a new pet—one that kids will delight in, just as they do in this book. For any pet lover The Perfect Dog is…perfect!

Ages 3 – 8

Crown Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2016 | ISBN 978-1101934418

Be sure to visit Kevin O’Malley’s website! You can learn more about his books, watch a video of one of his school visits, and even download free books!

Assistance Dog Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dog-breeds-word-search

I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search

 

Assistance dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Find the names of more than 25 types of dogs in this printable I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search

Picture Book Review