July 2 – World UFO Day

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About the Holiday

World UFO Day was established in 2001 as a time when alien-life enthusiasts could get together, talk about their theories, and share stories and evidence gathered. To celebrate watch some UFO-themed movies, read up on reported alien encounters or outer space-themed science fiction, or throw a UFO party. However you decide to have fun on World UFO Day, just make sure it’s an out-of-this-world experience.

Breaking News: Alien Alert

By David Biedrzycki

 

Night has fallen and Mama Bear puts Baby Bear down to sleep in a soft meadow bed. Suddenly, though, a light from above focuses on the Bear’s den and begins to lift a dozing Baby Bear into the sky. Mama Bear grabs one of his legs while Papa Bear takes hold of one of Mama Bear’s legs, and together they’re transported into an alien spaceship. It’s still dark as the morning news broadcasts a News 3 Special Report from Hundred Acre Park.

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Copyright David Biedrzycki, 2018, courtesy of Charlesbridge.

Reporter Chad Newsworthy is standing in the middle of the meadow where one large crop circle surrounded by little crop circles attest to the strange goings on. Newsworthy looks into the camera and reports: “According to eyewitnesses, last night an alien spaceship snatched up bears, moose, rabbits, and squirrels from this very meadow.” A half-eaten carrot is shown as evidence, and a local scout troop who saw the whole thing is standing by.

One scout is telling how she caught the alien abduction of a friend’s toy bunny on her phone while a headline scrolls across the bottom of the report: “It appears aliens can’t tell the difference between live and stuffed animals.” A local farmer is also interviewed about his missing cow, goat, and piglet. To flesh out the story UFO expert E. T. Fonehome gives his opinion on what the aliens may look like.

Meanwhile, the animals who are waiting to learn their fate in the darkened spaceship are unaware of the commotion down on Earth. News reporting has moved to the zoo, where four of the most popular animals are missing, while, unfortunately, the parrot Annoying Ralph was left behind.

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Copyright David Biedrzycki, 2018, courtesy of Charlesbridge.

Not one to miss an opportunity for some face time on TV, Mayor Luke Atme pulls together a press conference where he assures his constituents: “Good afternoon, my fellow citizens! I’m not here to talk about my election campaign, but to express my deepest concern for those poor, defenseless animals.” The scrolling headline reveals that “polls show that if election were held today, mayor would lose to Annoying Ralph.”

By now dusk has fallen. A crowd has gathered behind reporter Chad Newsworthy, and the alien souvenirs are selling like hotcakes. But what’s happening on the spaceship? The aliens have the animals surrounded and Baby Bear is approaching one young alien who’s holding a string—or is it pull cord…? All over the world, the news is exploding with this universal story that “we are not alone.”

Suddenly, in the dark night sky, the spaceship zooms into view and hovers above the park. As it lands and lowers its ramp, “witnesses report hearing strange music.” Chad Newsworthy looks intently into the camera and reports what everyone is feeling: “There are no words for this moment. The human race holds its breath.” Then the moment everyone has been waiting for occurs, and the animals descend the ramp… “with goody bags?!” As the aliens lift off, it seems humans have to concede that “we are not the only party animals in the universe!”

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Copyright David Biedrzycki, 2018, courtesy of Charlesbridge.

David Biedrzycki’s Breaking News: Alien Alert is funny, pun-filled storytelling at its best. Sly references to news reporting, alien abduction, and emergency response tropes add layers of depth that will keep kids as well as adults laughing from the mysterious beginning to the surprising end. Biedrzycki’s focus on the Earthlings in the story increases the suspense and the clever payout when the animals are released.

Biedrzycki’s dynamic art captures the personalities who often get involved in sensational news stories. Speech bubbles let readers easily follow the action as the news spreads from person to person. An bit of evidence left at the scene may give super sleuths an early clue to the ending.

For laugh-inducing story times that kids will want to tune into again and again, Breaking News: Alien Alert is a definite UFO—Undeniably Fantastic Option—for home and classroom libraries.

 Ages 4 – 8

Charlesbridge, 2018 | ISBN 978-1580898041

To learn more about David Biedrzycki, and his books visit his website.

World UFO Day Activity

 celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-space-alien-coloring-page

Booking through Space! Coloring Page

 

These aliens have a very special spaceship to travel in! Grab your crayons or pencils and make their universe more colorful!

Booking through Space! Coloring Page

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Breaking News: Alien Alert can be found at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

June 7 – Global Running Day

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About the Holiday

Global Running Day is all about living a healthy lifestyle! There are so many reasons to take up running, from keeping in shape to clearing one’s mind to competing against other runners. So far 839,167 people from 171 countries have pledged to run short distances and longer routes in their quest for personal health. Nearly 300,000 kids have also pledge to join the Million Kid Run that gets young people thinking about their own health while having fun.

Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow

By David Biedrzycki

 

Phil Groundhog was a pretty quick little dude. In fact, the only thing that could keep up with him was his shadow. You might say that Phil’s shadow was his best friend. It was always there following his every move, and “even when Phil felt small…his shadow could make him feel bigger.” But then Phil grew up. While Phil went off to work the way adult groundhogs were supposed to do, his “shadow had other plans.”

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Copyright David Biedrzycki, courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing

Phil liked to go to the local beach on vacation; “Shadow dreamed of visiting faraway places.” While Phil enjoyed scary movies, Shadow was…well…scared. Phil was perfectly happy with a diet of “dandelions, clover, and tree bark,” but Shadow was more a taco kinda guy. Phil was always watching his watch; Shadow was always stopping to smell the roses.

At first Phil thought Shadow was funny, and his friends likes Shadow’s wild side (except for the burping). But then Shadow began doing things Phil would never do and his behavior soon “got annoying…and then downright embarrassing.” Finally, Phil was fed up and said, “Why can’t you be like other shadows? I wish you would just go away!” At first Shadow was hurt and angry. But then he remembered his dream of traveling, so he packed his suitcase and booked passage on the USS Punxsutawney. He sailed through New York Harbor and saw the Statue of Liberty. He took a train through Paris and viewed the Eiffel Tower, and the week after that he was gazing at the pyramids in Egypt.

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Copyright David Biedrzycki, courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing

Back home, though, Phil was missing his shadow. He looked everywhere for it. He posted Lost Shadow posters on telephone poles and put notices in the newspaper. Then Phil saw something shocking. He opened the newspaper one day to see an article about Shadow. And not just one story—dozens! Shadow had met the Queen of England, played guitar at the White House, gotten a role in a movie….

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Copyright David Biedrzycki, courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing

“Suddenly Phil’s life seemed pretty dull. He longed to be exploring with Shadow.” Just as Phil was making this realization, Shadow discovered something too. He missed sharing his adventures with Phil. That night, Phil couldn’t sleep. “The thought of searching for Shadow scared Phil silly.” It would mean traveling the globe, but the next morning he began. He took a plane, a boat, a train, and even a gondola. He stood atop a skyscraper, on the edge of a cliff, and next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but never glimpsed Shadow.

Finally, Phil had an idea. He opened his suitcase and took out his accordion. As he played “he heard someone gently accompanying him…on the trumpet. He had found Shadow and Shadow had found him. “The two friends played together, this time in perfect harmony….and forever after, that’s exactly what they did.” Except sometimes…

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Copyright David Biedrzycki, courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing

David Biedrzycki’s ingenious tale of friendship, duel (and sometimes dueling) personalities, loss, recovery, and bravery is presented in a hilarious pairing of text and illustration that kids will immediately respond to. As in many friendships, Phil and Shadow develop different ideas that seem insurmountable. When Phil realizes that Shadow has gone off without him and that he misses his companion, however, young readers will empathize with his courage in overcoming his fears to reunite with his best friend. The idea that love spurs great action and can best all obstacles is a reassuring truism that will cheer young readers.

Part traditional picture book, part graphic novel, Biedrzycki’s bold and vibrant illustrations will captivate kids. Readers will laugh at Shadow’s shenanigans and enjoy pointing him out on the world stage. The final page which offers a tribute to that most famous of groundhogs and presents a scavenger hunt will have kids begging to read the book again.

Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow is an original tale that kids will want to hear over and over. For fun story times or for when friendships are a little harder to negotiate, the book would make a fine addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Charlesbridge, 2016 | ISBN 978-1580897341

Discover more about David Biedrzycki and his books on his website!

Global Running Day Activity

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One-of-Your-Kind Shoe Laces

 

You can travel a few feet or a few miles in style with these easy-to-make shoe laces in your running shoes.

Supplies

  • White or colored shoe laces
  • Fabric markers or fabric paint
  • Paintbrush

Directions

  1. Create a pattern or design for your shoe laces
  2. With the fabric markers or paint decorate your shoe laces
  3. Let dry
  4. Lace up and run!

Picture Book Review

August 19 – World Photography Day

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About the Holiday

Photography is all about providing information through images. A picture really can be worth a thousand words in capturing a moment of surprise, joy, danger, or even sadness. Well-placed photographers, videographers, and cinematographers have given voice to some of society’s pivotal moments, allowing the whole world to witness change, sometimes as it happens. Today we celebrate photographers who often put themselves in danger to get the story as well as those who bring us much-needed lighter moments.

Breaking News: Bear Alert

By David Biedrzycki

 

Jean Louis, a television host on Our Furry Planet looks out from the screen at a little boy and his teddy bear watching from their family room. He’s brought the video camera into a bear’s den “somewhere in North America.” With a pointy stick he motions towards a sleeping bear as he explains the facts about hibernation. “Look,” he says, poking his stick into the bear’s nose, “even when prodded they don’t wake up. But spring is a busy time for brown bears. Soon they will emerge from their den, hungry for food, hungry for adven—AAAAAAAAAAH!!!” The bear grabs the reporter’s stick as the screen goes dark.

The Skycam 3 News Helicopter takes over as two bears escape into the wider community. They catch a ride on the top of the Our Furry Planet truck carrying the reporter who scans the area and is relieved to find they have outrun the bears. Close observers will notice a pair of suspicious-looking characters first seen out the boy’s window now riding a motorcycle with a sidecar.

The bears are next spotted by the Main Street traffic camera. In an inset the Our Furry driver describes his encounter with the bears as the cameraman stands disheveled behind him: “Well, that big ol’ bear came at us with his claws out like this. I told him to scoot and chased both of them away!” But is this bragging warranted? The reality may be more that the driver and cameraman ran away screaming while the bears peacefully took in the sights.

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Image copyright David Biedrzycki, courtesy of charlesbridge.com

The bears are later found on security video at Teddy’s Diner, where the sign specifically states that “No Bare Feet” are allowed. The diner’s owner and head chef, Teddy Bahr, reveals that he’ll “cook for anyone as long as they’re not barefoot and that the bears were barefoot.” According to the scrolling alert, the bears “demanded to be fed” and indeed are shown gulping down a bowl of porridge at the counter. The golden-haired waitress, Mrs. Locks exclaims for the camera, “I almost had a heart attack…Those bears had no manners, and they paid me with acorns.”

Hmmm…the diner’s TV is relating a story about cat burglars that seem awfully familiar. And is that them again entering an electronics store at Pooh Street and Main Street, where the bears have just turned the corner? A boy yells for his mom as the bears take over his kiddie ride, but she’s too busy on her phone and discovering she’s on TV to pay attention. The scrolling alert warns parents to be on the lookout as the bears “are wild and could be extremely dangerous.”

The bears continue their journey through town, dancing to street a performer while a “cat burglar” raids the band’s donation box, taking their pictures in a photo booth, and watching all the commotion as agents of Animal Control sprea through the streets. The Paddington Department Store spies the bears on the escalator, but does it also catch something—or someone—else at the jewelry department?

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Image copyright David Biedrzycki, courtesy of charlesbridge.com

Suddenly, a police officer bursts out of the department store door to chase the robbers as the Breaking News report declares that there has been a burglary at the store. Skycam 3 spots the suspects fleeing on foot! And in a moment the perpetrators have been caught! Breaking News: “Bears nab burglars.” Once the scourge of the town, the bears are now heroes. The Breaking News reports “Crowd applauds departing bear heroes. We now return you to your regularly scheduled story.”

There’s so much going on in David Biedrzycki’s Breaking News: Bear Alert, that the minimal text doesn’t begin to hint at all the hidden surprises and silliness that kids will love on each page. Bear puns and other jokes abound on every page and in nearly every illustrated detail. Characters’ names, menu items, framed pictures, street names, and more offer up humorous allusions to other bear-related people, books, and entertainment for adults and kids.

Readers of all ages will want to linger over every vivid, full-bleed page to catch all the hilarious happenings and allusions, and especially to follow the subplot that is cleverly inserted along the way. The frame of an animal discovery television show is a sly wink at the genre and one that kids and adults will be familiar with and enjoy.

Bear in mind that kids may be clawing to read this book again and again, and not having Breaking News: Bear Alert on the shelf may pose a very hairy situation indeed!

Ages 4 – 10

Charlesbridge, 2014 | ISBN 978-1580896634

To learn more about David Biedrzycki and his books and to view a gallery of his artwork, visit his website!

Don’t hbernate! Watch this beary funny book trailer!

World Photography Day Activity

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Picture Perfect Bear Coloring Page

 

Imagine you’re taking a picture of this bear in a tree. What else do you see? Draw in the details and then color your printable Picture Perfect Bear Coloring Page.