October 10 – National Face Your Fears Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-after-the-fall-cover

About the Holiday

Going outside your comfort zone can be scary, but being afraid holds you back and affects your quality of life. Today’s holiday encourages people to face their fears and overcome trepidation or hesitance and say, “I’m going to do it!” Perhaps knowing that others are also trying the hard thing today will provide a little extra courage. You never know what you can achieve until you take that first step!

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

By Dan Santat

 

If readers don’t quite remember what happened to Humpty Dumpty back in the day,  his unfortunate accident is captured on the title page. But this is not a story about falling (we all do that sometimes). Instead, as the subtitle reveals, it’s about the recovery. Here, Humpty Dumpty tells his story his way—what really happened on that fateful day and afterward.

Humpty takes readers back to the scene where it all happened: his “favorite spot high up on the wall.” He acknowledges that it’s a strange place for such a fragile being to be, but up there he felt closer to the birds. He goes on to say that he’s not really comfortable with all the fuss and the fancy “Great Fall” title. It was just a mistake; even if that mistake did change his life.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-after-the-fall-wall

Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

It turns out that despite what we’ve all learned, the king’s men were able to patch Humpty up. Well, at least partly. His shell was repaired, but inside? “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Where Humpty once loved his bunk bed above his desk, he now slept on a mat on the floor; he only bought items from the lowest grocery store shelves; and even though he passed the wall every day, he knew he could never climb the ladder to the top again.

Humpty resigned himself to watching the birds from the ground through a pair of binoculars. Then, one day, a paper airplane streaked across the sky and gave him an idea. Paper airplanes looked so easy to make, but Humpty found it hard. Day after day he struggled, suffering paper cuts and scratches. One day, though, he “got it just right.” In his hand was a beautiful paper bird.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-after-the-fall-hospital

Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Humpty took his bird plane outside and launched it into the air. “It flew like nothing could stop it.” Humpty felt happier than he had in ages, and even though watching his plane wasn’t the same as being on top of the wall among the birds, “it was close enough.” But then the unthinkable happened—the bird plane flew over the wall. Humpty was well aware that “unfortunately, accidents happen…they always do.”

For a minute Humpty Dumpty considered walking away. But then he remembered all the work he’d put into his plane, which led him to think about all the things he was missing out on. He looked up that tall, tall ladder and started to climb. The farther up he got, though, the more afraid he became. Without looking up or down, he continued climbing. “One step at a time.”

When he reached the top, he “was no longer afraid.” At that moment, as his shell began to crack and he felt lighter and more powerful. Humpty tells readers that he hopes they won’t remember him as “that egg who was famous for falling,” but as “the egg who got back up and learned how to fly.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-after-the-fall-cereals

Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Dan Santat deftly works with preconceived notions and a well-known idiom to turn the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty into an inspirational “happily ever after” story. Just as fears can come to define a person, traditional interpretations of this tale classify Humpty as a chicken egg and specify his lack of repair as physical. But what if, as Santat envisions, Humpty is the egg of a bird that soars and that his hurts are more internal? Then readers can identify with this hero who doesn’t give in and who conquers his fear to come out of his shell and fly. Santat’s honest, straightforward storytelling will resonate with young readers and listeners. The gentle reassurance in After the Fall will encourage children to try again—one step at a time.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-after-the-fall-walking-past-wall

Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Santat’s luminous illustrations express wonder, humor, and touching moments in ways that not only enhance the story but make readers think about other issues as well.  Children will want to linger over the pages to catch all the references to Humpty’s bird watching hobby, take in the enormity of the wall that Humpty Dumpty confronts, and catch humorous takes on the original rhyme, including Santat’s King’s County Hospital. Adults and kids alike will enjoy poring over and discussing the wall of cereals, and as Humpty’s tiny hand reaches for the next rung on the ladder adults may feel a lump in their throats. When Humpty breaks free of his shell and emerges in the same form as the paper bird he created, readers may consider whether Humpty spent time only working on his toy or on himself as well.

After the Fall is a picture book that offers reassurance and invites deeper discussion. The book would be a welcome addition to home, classroom, and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626726826

Learn more about Dan Santat and After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) on the book’s website.

Face your Fears Day Activity

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

Calming Sensory 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 Books Review

 

September 20 – Get Ready Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-ninja-pigs-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established in 2006 by the American Public Health Association to encourage individuals, families, schools, businesses, and others to be prepared for any type of emergency. Having the right supplies on hand and proper training help to avert a larger crisis and can be a source of comfort and confidence. Take some time today to check your stock piles and preparedness plans and, if needed, enroll in a class like the heroes of today’s story!

The Three Ninja Pigs

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz | Illustrated by Dan Santat

 

The Big Bad Wolf has never encountered Three Little Pigs like these! When he comes into town huffing and puffing and blowing homes down, the sibling trio (two brothers and a sister) in this fractured fairy take matters into their own trotters and vow: “‘We’ve got to get rid of that bully!’” / “‘We’re tired of letting him rule.’” / “‘We must put an end / To this terrible trend.’” / “‘Let’s train at that new Ninja school.’” At the dojo, Pig One begins to learn aikido, but with a “straw-house” attitude, he drops out after only two weeks.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-ninja-pigs-house-of-straw

Image copyright Dan Santat, courtesy of coreyrosenschwartz.com

Pig Two has a little more “stick”-to-itiveness with his Jujitsu training, and “The teacher said, ‘Excellent progress. / But Pig-san, you must study more.’ / Pig Two said, ‘No way. / Sayonara, Sensei! / I’m ready to settle a score.’” Thankfully, Pig Three has the steadfastness of a brick in her karate lessons and masters each move. “She balanced and blocked like an expert, / and practiced her lessons nonstop. / By the time she was through, / she could break boards in two / by performing a perfect pork chop!’” When she earns her black belt, she’s ready to rumble.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-ninja-pigs-retreat

Image copyright Dan Santat, courtesy of coreyrosenschwartz.com

When the wolf comes huffing and puffing to the straw house of Pig One, this little piggie can talk big but with a swing and a miss, he suddenly wishes he were more prepared. For Pig Two, things go…well…you know…. and the wolf chases the two brothers to their sister’s house. Here Pig Three stands waiting “…outside in her gi. / ‘I’m a certified weapon, / so watch where you’re steppin’. / You don’t want to start up with me!’” While she demonstrates her kicks and flips, the wolf stands strong, but when he witnesses her mighty ability to split bricks with one chop he scrams.

How do these intrepid pigs top that success? The brothers learn their lesson and—after going back to school—their ninja moves. After graduating these “Three pigs full of mojo / then ran their own dojo, / and life was forever wolf-free.’”  

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-ninja-pigs-wolf

Image copyright Dan Santat, courtesy of coreyrosenschwartz.com

Corey Rosen Schwartz has created a rowdy, rambunctious triple-pig threat in this uproarious rendering of the three little pigs tale. With perfect rhythmic limericks that are a joy to read aloud, Schwartz cleverly uses puns, funny dialogue, and one feisty piglet to chop the wolf down to size.

Dan Santat’s illustrations are full of angst, action, and attitude. Legs kick, hands chop, boards and bamboo fly as the three pigs and their nemesis wolf nearly leap from the page in their battles.

Ages 4 – 8

G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2012 | ISBN978-0399255144

Discover more about Corey Rosen Schwartz and her books plus fun activities and detailed teachers’ guides on her website!

Check out Dan Santat‘s site to learn about his books, view his artwork, and more!

While I take a few personal days over the next couple of weeks, I am republishing earlier posts updated with links, internal art, and book trailers.

Watch this kickin’ The Three Ninja Pigs book trailer!

Get Ready Day Activity

CPB - Pig Day pigs

Roly-Poly Pig and Piglets

 

Get ready to have fun making this cute and easy craft! Ham it up with your own pig and piglets who can keep you company on your desk, near your bed or anywhere it’s fun to play!

Supplies

  • 2 ½-inch wooden spoon, available from craft stores
  • 1-inch wooden spool, available from craft stores
  • Pink yarn, I used a wide-strand yarn
  • Pink fleece or felt
  • Pink craft paint
  • Pink 5/8-inch or 1-inch flat button with two holes
  • Pink 3/8-inch flat button with two holes
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black marker

CPB - Pig Day with spools (2)

Directions

  1. Cut triangular ears for the pigs – cut larger triangles for the big pig and smaller triangles for the babies. Leave a tab on the bottom of the ears to secure them with the yarn.
  2. Paint the spool with the pink paint
  3. Let spool dry
  4. When the spool is dry, glue the ears to the spool, letting the ears stick up over the rim of the spool.
  5. Wrap yarn in straight layers around spool until the body of the pig is a little bigger than the end of the spool, which will be the face
  6. Cut yarn off skein and glue the end to the body
  7. To make the nose, glue the button over the hole in the middle of the spool
  8. Mark the eyes and mouth with a marker
  9. To make the tail for the large pig, cut a 4-inch long piece of yarn. Tie a triple knot in the yarn (or a knot big enough to fill the hole in the spool). Then tie a single knot below the first knot. Insert the large knot into the spool’s hole at the back of the pig. Trim the yarn in front of the second knot as needed.
  10. To make the tail for the piglets, tie a single knot in the yarn and another single know below the first. Insert one of the single knots into the hole. Trim yarn as needed.

Picture Book Review

July 6 – National Fried Chicken Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hensel-and-gretel-ninja-chicks

About the Holiday

Fried chicken with its crispy outside and tender, juicy inside is the star of American Southern home style cooking. The tradition, brought to America by Scottish immigrants, is a favorite for summer picnics and has spawned many an on-the-go restaurant. There’s only one way to celebrate this holiday…well, maybe two—sink your teeth into some delicious fried chicken and devour today’s book!

Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrated by Dan Santat

 

The times, they are a’menacing. A fox is prowling and has already chicken napped Hensel and Gretel’s ma, shaking up their pa. Hensel and Gretel know just what to do—they enroll at the 3 Pigs Dojo and “they trained in the art of ninjutsu / and practiced their wing throws and blocks. / They learned how to creep / without making a peep / so they wouldn’t fall prey to that fox.” Their training proves advantageous as the day soon comes when Hensel and Gretel have to put their training into practice.

One day they return home to find that their pa has also been nabbed by the fox. While they may be chickens the sisters definitely aren’t chicken so they go in search of their pop. They drop crumbs on their trail to lead them back home, but the forest grows “twisted and tangled” and they soon discover that the breadcrumbs are gone. Bravely, they trek through the woods until they see a light. “It came from a cottage of corn bread! / ‘Let’s eat!’ Hensel clucked with delight. / She nibbled away till she heard someone say, / ‘My dear, come on in for a bite.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hensel-and-gretel-ninja-chicks

Image copyright Dan Santat, courtesy of coreyrosenschwartz.com

Caught off guard, Hensel enters the house but quickly realizes her mistake when she sees a pan in the oven. In the corner she finds her pa locked away in a crate. The fox grabs her and adds her to the crate with her dad. While she is fattening up, the fox tells her, he’ll eat another hen from his stock. That hen turns out to be Hensel and Gretel’s mom! Meanwhile, Gretel has squeezed her way through the chimney “with ninja-like silence and speed.” She frees her ma and with “one feathered sweep” blocks the fox’s advance.

The fox fights back, but Mama comes to Gretel’s rescue with a well-aimed wok just as Hensel and Papa break free. But the crate doesn’t stay empty for long: “With one wicked spin, / Hensel kicked the fox in! / ‘You’re done with your chick-frying spree!’” Back home Hensel and Gretel are congratulated, and “from then on they made it their mission / to rescue, protect and defend. / They’d work night and day / to liberate prey / till bird-napping came to an end.”

Ninja pandemonium is back! This time the martial arts are served up chicken style in Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez’s take on Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel story. All the intrigue and suspense of the original is here, but blazingly spiced and fried up with delicious puns, sizzling verbs, and some of the most riotous rhymes you’ll ever read.

Dan Santat again lends his agile artwork to the springs, spins, and stealth of the world of the dojo. Feathers fly; the fox leaps, chops, and winces; and Hensel and Gretel perform some serious Kiya! Santat’s forest is gloomy and forbidding, the air shimmers with the force of well-placed kicks, and the large close-up images put readers in the middle of the action.

Everyone from small-fries to hens and roosters will flip over Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks. It’s a must addition to any child’s library.

Ages 4 – 9

G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0399176265

Watch Hensel and Gretel kick some tail feathers in the trailer for their book!

To discover more books by Corey Rosen Schwartz as well as fun activities and how to be a Book Ninja, visit her website.

Activities, tips, books, and more by Rebecca J. Gomez can be found on her website.

A gallery of art, list of books, and more information about Dan Santat is available on his website.

National Fried Chicken Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-chicken-craft

Turn Over a New Chicken

 

A long-handled wooden turner makes a plucky decoration for your room or kitchen! With a few simple additions, you’ll have a cute companion you’ll want to crow about!

Supplies

  • Printable Comb and Scarf Template
  • Long-handled wooded turner, available in kitchen supply stores
  • Red felt
  • Yellow bakable clay
  • Fabric, 12 inches square
  • A small piece of white felt or fleece (optional)
  • White paint (or any color you would like)
  • Black marker
  • Fabric glue
  • Glue gun
  • Paint brush

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-chicken-craft

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden turner, let dry
  2. Cut the scarf from the piece of fabric
  3. Make a beak from the yellow clay and bake it according to package directions

To make the comb

  1. Cut out the comb from the red felt
  2. Fold the felt in half and glue the end together with the fabric glue
  3. Cut short strips from the folded top of the felt, about ½-inch to ¾ -inch in length
  4. Round the corners of the strips slightly

To make the scarf

  1. Fold the fabric in half
  2. With the long, straight edge of the scarf template along the fold, cut out the scarf
  3. With the fabric glue, glue the two sides of the scarf together so that you have two “right” sides
  4. Let dry

To assemble the chicken

  1. Pinch the bottom of the comb together so that the strips open and the felt pleats a little
  2. With the glue gun attach the comb to the back of the painted turner, keeping the bottom pinched together
  3. Attach the beak to the front of the turner
  4. Draw eyes on the chicken with the black marker
  5. Tie the scarf around the neck of the handle, hold in place with a drop of glue in the back if necessary
  6. To make tail feathers in a turner with a hole in the handle, pinch together a small folded piece of white felt or fleece and push it through the hole in the handle of the turner.
  7. Cut or arrange to look like feathers

May 12 – National Odometer Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-are-we-there-yet

About the Holiday

In 1847 William Clayton invented a little add-on to the automobile that provides perspective, history, and interesting information on our beloved cars—the odometer! Whether you like to keep track of how many miles you travel on a trip, how economical your gas mileage is, when your next tune-up is due, or just marvel at how long your car has lasted, the numbers on the odometer tell the story. Today, take your car out for a spin—perhaps to the car wash or out to the open road!

Are We There Yet?

By Dan Santat

 

When you’re invited to a very special birthday party and it’s far away, what do you do? Pack up the car, of course, and head out on an adventure! Going to Grandma’s house is always exciting—at least for the first hour, but after that each minute seems to take for- ev-er. You might even think “Are we there yet?” or “This is taking forever.” Wait! Did you say that out loud? The look on your parents’ faces tell you you did!

You can only stare out the window at the landscape for so long. “But what happens when your brain becomes too bored? That’s when your whole world can turn upside down. Minutes feel like hours. Hours turn to days. Days seem like months and then years. Pretty soon that “quick trip” feels like a million years.

As you ride in the car, tucked in the back seat, feeling a little sick, needing to use the bathroom, your butt growing numb—and bored, bored, bored—could time actually be going backward? While you’re zipping down the highway suddenly a steam train is chugging past, trying to outrun a team of bandits. Now pirates have captured your car and sent it down the plank toward the briny deep! I hope you’re good with a lance because somehow your family’s the main attraction at the royal jousting tournament. And there’s no stopping for the bathroom in Ancient Egypt, or you’ll be put to work building a pyramid.

You think you’ve reached the end of your patience? You’ve actually reached the beginning of time. You may love dinosaurs, but you don’t belong in the Cretaceous Period. So play fetch with T-Rex one time and then climb aboard his back for a wild ride back.

But as quickly as you turned back time you can find yourself in the future—a future you don’t even recognize, where everything you love is gone. So take time now—yes, while you’re bored, bored, bored—to really look around you and see what’s going on. After all, you don’t want to miss this party—it’s the one you’ve been invited to.

Dan Santat’s Are We There Yet? is a rambunctious reminder to enjoy the moment you’re in, because Time is a wily beast that creeps up on you when you’re not paying attention. The art in this book is the star, with its full, two-page vibrant spreads and topsy-turvy format. An old steam train is chased by bandits in the western heat. A rag-tag crew of scallywag pirates menace the family at sword point. Crowds roar at a medieval jousting tournament. Ancient Egyptians toil in the golden sun overshadowed by the Sphynx and pyramids. And it’s love at first sight when the boy comes eye to eye with T-rex in the lush jungles of early Earth.

The scenes of the future, complete with flying cars, neon colors, and helpful robots make clever use of QR codes, and kids will relate to the funny twist ending.

Ages 4 – 8

Little Brown and Company, 2016 | ISBN 978-0316199995

Gardening for Wildlife Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-flower-dot-to-dot

Who’s in the Garden Dot-to-Dots

 

Completing a dot-to-dot puzzle can be a little like taking a trip—you go from stop to stop, not knowing exactly what you’ll find at the end. In these dot-to-dots, you’ll discover who’s hiding in the garden.

Printable dot-to-dot, page 1

Printable  dot-to-dot, page 2

March 1 – National Pig Day

The Three Ninja Pigs Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Pigs inspire us! Whether we see them on a farm, have them as pets, or enjoy them as part of our entertainment—who can forget Wilbur or Babe or even the little piggie who went wee, wee, wee, all the way home, after all?—pigs are part of our lives almost from the time we are born. How did they reach this lofty state? By being smart! Pigs are one of the most intellectual animals, capable of high-level learning. In 1972 sisters Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave decided pigs needed more acclaim, and so National Pig Day was established. On this day pigs are celebrated with special events, parades, and parties at zoos, farms, and schools.

The Three Ninja Pigs

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz | Illustrated by Dan Santat

 

The Big Bad Wolf has never encountered Three Little Pigs like these! When the sibling trio (two brothers and a sister) in this fractured fairy tale have had enough of the wolf’s bullying they take matters into their own trotters. Enrolling at the new Ninja school, Pig One begins to learn aikido, but with a “straw-house” attitude, he drops out before he acquires any useful skills. Pig Two has little more “stick”-to-itiveness with his Jujitsu training and quickly says “Sayonara” to his teacher. Thankfully, Pig Three has the steadfastness of a brick. She earns her black belt in Karate and is ready to rumble.

When the wolf comes huffing and puffing to the doors of Pig One and Pig Two, things go…well…you know…. The wolf chases the two brothers to their sister’s house, where this “certified weapon” stands prepared. She demonstrates her kicks and flips, which don’t scare the wolf. When he witnesses her mighty ability to split bricks with one chop, however, the wolf scrams.

How do these intrepid pigs top that? The brothers learn their lesson and—finally—their ninja moves. After graduation this fearless family makes sure that wolf will never return by opening a dojo of their own!

Corey Rosen Schwartz has created a rowdy, rambunctious triple-pig threat in this uproarious rendering of the three little pigs tale. With perfect rhythmic limericks that are a joy to read aloud, Schwartz cleverly uses puns, funny dialogue, and one feisty piglet to chop the wolf down to size. Dan Santat’s illustrations are full of angst, action, and attitude. Legs kick, hands chop, boards and bamboo fly as the three pigs and their nemesis wolf nearly leap from the page in their battle.

Ages 4 – 8

G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2012 | ISBN978-0399255144

National Pig Day Activity

CPB - Pig Day pigs

Roly-Poly Pig and Piglets

 

Who doesn’t love hamming it up with a piglet? But let’s face it, having your own real pig just isn’t practical for everyone. Here’s a little piggie that you can make to keep you company on your desk or near your bed or anywhere it’s fun to play!

Supplies

  • Printable Pigs Ears Pattern
  • 2 ½-inch wooden spoon, available from craft stores
  • 1-inch wooden spool, available from craft stores
  • Pink yarn, I used a wide-strand yarn
  • Pink fleece or felt
  • Pink craft paint
  • Pink 5/8-inch or 1-inch flat button with two holes
  • Pink 3/8-inch flat button with two holes
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black marker

CPB - Pig Day with spools (2)

Directions

  1. Print the Pigs Ears pattern
  2. Trace the ears onto the fleece or felt and cut them out.
  3. Paint the spool with the pink paint
  4. Let spool dry
  5. When the spool is dry, glue the ears to the spool, letting the ears stick up over the rim of the spool.
  6. Wrap yarn in straight layers around spool until the body of the pig is a little bigger than the end of the spool, which will be the face
  7. Cut yarn off skein and glue the end to the body
  8. To make the nose, glue the button over the hole in the middle of the spool
  9. Mark the eyes and mouth with a marker
  10. To make the tail for the large pig, cut a 4-inch long piece of yarn. Tie a triple knot in the yarn (or a knot big enough to fill the hole in the spool). Then tie a single knot below the first knot. Insert the large knot into the spool’s hole at the back of the pig. Trim the yarn in front of the second knot as needed.
  11. To make the tail for the piglets, tie a single knot in the yarn and another single know below the first. Insert one of the single knots into the hole. Trim yarn as needed.