May 16 – Drawing Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-cover

About the Holiday

Drawing day was established to remind us that all of the creative thoughts inside us are worthy of being shared. It also brings awareness to and appreciation of the artists and illustrators of all types who translate our world into meaningful images through which we understand people, events, and objects in different ways. Today, indulge your inner artist! Grab a pencil, pen, marker, paints or chalk, some paper or canvas, and create!

Tell Me a Tattoo Story

Written by Alison McGhee | Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

 

A little boy tugs on his dad’s T-shirt, wanting to see his tattoos—again. His dad sits down with his son and patiently goes through them, like the pages of a favorite book. In fact, the tattoo on his shoulder—a dragon flying above mountain peaks—is from the book his mom read to him in childhood. “Did she read it to him over and over and over? She sure did,” he says.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-interior-art-at-home

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of abramsandchronicle.co.uk

The elaborate design on the dad’s wrist reads “Be Kind,” advice his father used to give him. An intricate depiction of a carnival, complete with a Ferris wheel, fireworks, and flowers reminds him “of the day I met a pretty girl.” His son asks what made the girl so pretty, and his dad responds, “That’s a good question, little man. I’d have to say it was her smile.” In answer to his son’s wondering if he has ever met this girl, Dad looks at his wife and says, “You sure have.”

The tattoo picturing a globe and monument that covers the dad’s right side is from “the longest trip I ever took.” He reminisces—“Did I miss home while I was there?”—and confesses, “I sure did.”  The last tattoo the little boy asks about is a small heart festooned with a banner that reads “7● 22 Two Thousand Twelve.” Father and son engage in banter that is most likely familiar to them both, with the boy asking the questions he already knows the answers to but loves to hear again and again: “Those numbers inside it? Just somebody’s birthday, I guess. Whose birthday? / Oh some little man I know, is all. / What do you mean, this one’s your favorite? This dinky little heart?” Then leaning in to learn a secret, the boy rediscovers that the heart tattoo is his dad’s favorite too.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-interior-art-be-kind

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of abramsandchronicle.co.uk

Alison McGhee’s Tell Me a Tattoo Story is such a sweet, original homage to the love between father and son. The use of body art to reveal not only seminal events in the dad’s life but the trajectory of his child’s birth is inspired. The minimal text highlights the deep emotion, giving the boy in the story as well as young readers the information they are really looking for. The soft-spoken dad is such an appealing character—emotionally available, honest, and offering just the right tone of humorous repartee—for today’s family dynamic.

Beautifully rendering McGhee’s text into art, Eliza Wheeler creates a homey atmosphere that emphasizes the theme of the book while creating tattoos that are immediately accessible to children. The dragon tattoo could come from The Hobbit or Harry Potter, kids will recognize the fun and excitement represented by the Ferris wheel, and the little heart is simplicity at its finest. While the pages depicting the dad’s tattoos are minimally hued, the father’s reminiscences burst with color and details—providing an overall feeling of warmth and affection. The image of the dad in his military uniform over the hot, golden sands on “the longest trip he ever took” will bring a tear to your eye.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-interior-art-longest-trip

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of abramsandchronicle.co.uk

The originality of the story and gorgeous illustrations make Tell Me a Tattoo Story a must for children’s bookshelves and will become an often-asked-for read during quiet story times or for bedtime.

Ages Birth – 6

Chronicle Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1452119373

To discover more books for children and adults by Alison McGhee, visit her website!

View Eliza Wheeler’s portfolio and other books on her website!

National Tattoo Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-design-your-own-tattoo-template

Design Your Own Tattoo

 

Tattoos can be simple or elaborate, but they are always personal. They tell a story, commemorate an event, or reveal an emotion. What would your tattoo look like? Design your own body art on this printable Design Your Own Tattoo Template!

Picture Book Review

October 19 – Global Dignity Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wherever-you-go-cover-image

About the Holiday

Established in 2008, Global Dignity Day aspires to inspire and educate young people to understand their self-worth and achieve their goals. Events take place in schools in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Oceania. On this day speakers from all walks of life speak to children, revealing experiences from their life and work as it relates to dignity and a sense of self-respect, accomplishment, and interconnectedness.

Students then talk among themselves about what dignity means to them, and many speak their thoughts in front of the class. Following this they write letters to themselves outlining their feelings and aspirations. The letters are collected and handed back to them on the next Global Dignity Day so each child can assess how their life has changed and whether they have achieved their goals or are working toward them.

Today take some time to measure your own sense of dignity and to set goals. Discuss the issue with your child or children and make sure they know that whatever road they choose, they deserve dignity and the opportunities to achieve their full potential.

Wherever You Go

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller | Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

 

“When it’s time for a journey, to learn and to grow, / roads guide your footsteps wherever you go. / Roads give you chances to seek and explore. / Want an adventure? / Just open your door.”

So opens this lovely, inspirational picture book that looks at life through the metaphor of those sometimes straightforward, sometime winding, but always intriguing roads. In these pages “Roads…go” over hills, under bridges, and through valleys. They can take you past vast seas and small streams. “Roads…zoom” through brightly lit cities, and “bend,” taking you on detours “you wouldn’t expect, / showing you various ways to connect.”

Roads can bring you closer to your dreams, but also veer away, giving you choices “To go? / Or to stay?” “Roads…reach” from shore to shore or mountain to mountain, “attaching two places that once were apart.” You can “choose to cross over. Follow your heart.” Some roads are small—only built with one lane, but they merge with another “and the two become one.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wherever-you-go-roads-reach

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of hachettebookgroup.com

With time and change “Roads…grow,” becoming longer and wider and more populated with people you know and those you don’t—yet. Often “Roads…wait. For click-clacking trains / and boats with tall sails. / Slow-going hay wagons carrying bales. / Stoplights and crosswalks, a deer with a friend. / Roads sometimes pause, or just come to an end.”

Roads also rise to dizzying heights and the sense of accomplishment is well worth the climb. From on top “Roads…remember. Every life landmark, the big and the small. / The moments you tripped, the times you stood tall.” At last when you’re ready there are roads that will help you find your way home. So… “Which path should you choose? / That’s easy to see. / The one that will take you / where you wish to be.”

Pat Zietlow Miller’s lyrical journey down the paths life presents is an enchanting quiet-time and story-time read. Wherever You Go also offers parents, caregivers, and teachers a wonderful opportunity to discuss the concepts of self-confidence and self-respect and also the idea that life is made up of many different experiences that can be accepted or rejected like alternate routes on a map. Miller’s rhymes flow as smoothly as an wide open country road, soaring and winding on her exquisite descriptions and word choice. Adult readers may well find a catch in their throat as they read the last line to their children.

Eliza Wheeler captures not only the literal meanings of the lines in Wherever You Go, but also the heart and thoughts of life’s travels. Her softly hued watercolor-and-ink illustrations glow with the promise and possibilities encountered on life’s roads. Intricate details fill every page to show readers that their journeys are shared. Children will enjoy following the main character, a rabbit who rides a bike along a chosen path, but they will also love keeping track of traveling companions met along the way.

Wherever You Go is a fabulous book for all children and makes a wonderful gift for baby showers, new babies, and graduations. The gender-neutral text offers inclusiveness for all.

Ages 4 – 9 (and up)

Little Brown and Company, 2015 | ISBN 978-0316400022

Discover more about Pat Zietlow Miller, her books, and her writing life on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork and a gallery of books by Eliza Wheeler on her website!

Before taking off on your journey, watch this Wherever You Go book trailer!

 Global Dignity Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-heart-shaped-letter-template

I Love Myself! Heart-Shaped Letter Tempate

 

Before you start life’s journey and while you travel the roads you choose, it’s important to believe and remember that you are unique, wonderful, talented, and valuable. Children and adults can use this printable heart-shaped I Love Myself! Letter Template to write a letter to themselves or their children about what makes them such a fantastic person and the goals they want to achieve.

Picture Book Review

September 25 – World Dream Day

MIss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Dreamed up by a professor at Columbia University in 2012, today’s holiday is not for the sleepy  but for those wide awake to all the possibilities in life. It’s a time for adults and kids to really think about their hopes and dreams and plan how to achieve them. So sit down with a group of friends or by yourself and let your imagination soar – don’t let the day or opportunities pass you by! 

Miss Maple’s Seeds 

By Eliza Wheeler

 

Late in the summer, Miss Maple hurries to prepare for some very special guests. She has searched all summer for “orphan seeds that got lost during the spring planting,” and now bluebirds are carrying baskets full of these little pods so full of potential to her home. Once they arrive she “learns each seed by heart.” There are poppy, wild rice, maple, water lily, pine, impatiens, apple raspberry, sunflower, acorn, pea, fern seeds, and as many more as make up our world.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-washing-the-seeds

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

As she lovingly tends to each one, she whispers to them, “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small.” Miss Maple takes her little charges on field trips and shows them the world they will inhabit—muddy soil along riverbanks, grassy fields, and thickly populated forests. She cautions them about “weedy characters” who can show up even in a “bustling garden.”

At night Miss Maple snuggles each seed into a comfortable bed and reads to them by the light of fireflies. During the winter Miss Maple entertains other guests—woodland creatures who gather in her maple tree home to share food, stories, and songs. With the spring come rains and new lessons that teach the seeds how to burrow into the ground.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-seeds-bedtime-story

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

In May Miss Maple knows it’s time for her little ones to “find roots of their own.” She sends them out into the world, knowing that she has prepared them well for what they will become. Her seeds say goodbye and sail off to begin their futures, leaving Miss Maple alone. But soon another summer day comes, and Miss Maple sets off to gather more orphan seeds, because “the world is big and they are small.”

Eliza Wheeler’s Miss Maple’s Seeds is a lovely metaphor for the nurturing relationship between children and their parents or caregivers. At once comforting and liberating, Wheeler’s sweet tribute reveals the hopes and dreams adults have for each child they raise and finally let go to bloom into what they are meant to be.  

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-lantern-boats

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

Wheeler’s beautiful language floats as quietly and unhurried as a leaf on a gentle breeze, and her luminous artwork is breathtaking in its fully realized details of the greater world Miss Maple’s seeds and all of us inhabit. Each season is gorgeously rendered in soft blues, roses, browns, and yellows, and Wheeler imbues each little seed with personality without anthropomorphism. The reader may well wish they could be friends with these future beauties and with Miss Maple as well.

Miss Maple’s Seeds would be a wonderful gift for high school graduates, teachers, and anyone who loves taking care of children. It’s timeless message also makes it a perfect choice for quiet reading times or bedtime and a welcome addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 7, all ages

Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, 2013 | ISBN 978-0399257926

Discover the world of Eliza Wheeler‘s books and art on her website! Download an activity sheet for Miss Maple’s Seeds here!

While I take a few personal days this month, I am reposting earlier reviews updated with new links and interior art.

World Dream Day Activity

CPB - Flower Pot

Hopes and Dreams Flower Pot

 

Ideas, hopes, and dreams are like seeds, sprouting and growing into fruition with a bit of attention and care. With today’s craft you can create a flower pot of your own design. Then fill it with “dream seeds” of your favorite flower or plant. As you tend to the plant and it grows, tend to your own dreams and watch them grow as you achieve your desires.

Supplies

  • Terra cotta pot in any size
  • Acrylic multi-surface paint in various colors
  • Flower seeds
  • Soil

Directions

  1. Paint your terra cotta pot—be creative!
  2. Let paint dry
  3. Fill pot with soil
  4. Plant flower seeds

Picture Book Review

July 17 – National Tattoo Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-cover

About the Holiday

As an emerging holiday, National Tattoo Day gives us an opportunity to learn about and appreciate this very personal form of art. As the Smithsonian reports, tattoos have been found on human remains dating to Ancient Egypt and is believed to have been designed for therapeutic reasons similar to acupuncture. Body art has long been associated with soldiers and sailors, seeing a surge in popularity during the American Civil War, with the establishment of modern tattoo artists, and World War II. Today people of all ages and cultures embrace body art as a way of self-expression, and as today’s book shows, each tattoo tells its own story.

Tell Me a Tattoo Story

Written by Alison McGhee | Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

 

A little boy tugs on his dad’s T-shirt, wanting to see his tattoos—again. His dad sits down with his son and patiently goes through them, like the pages of a favorite book. In fact, the tattoo on his shoulder—a dragon flying above mountain peaks—is from the book his mom read to him in childhood. “Did she read it to him over and over and over? She sure did,” he says.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-interior-art-at-home

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of abramsandchronicle.co.uk

The elaborate design on the dad’s wrist reads “Be Kind,” advice his father used to give him. An intricate depiction of a carnival, complete with a Ferris wheel, fireworks, and flowers reminds him “of the day I met a pretty girl.” His son asks what made the girl so pretty, and his dad responds, “That’s a good question, little man. I’d have to say it was her smile.” In answer to his son’s wondering if he has ever met this girl, Dad looks at his wife and says, “You sure have.”

The tattoo picturing a globe and monument that covers the dad’s right side is from “the longest trip I ever took.” He reminisce—Did I miss home while I was there?”—and confesses, “I sure did.”  The last tattoo the little boy asks about is a small heart festooned with a banner that reads “7● 22 Two Thousand Twelve.” Father and son engage in banter that is most likely familiar to them both, with the boy asking the questions he already knows the answers to but loves to hear again and again: “Those numbers inside it? Just somebody’s birthday, I guess. Whose birthday? / Oh some little man I know, is all. / What do you mean, this one’s your favorite? This dinky little heart?” Then leaning in to learn a secret, the boy rediscovers that that tattoo is his dad’s favorite too.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-interior-art-be-kind

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of abramsandchronicle.co.uk

Alison McGhee’s Tell Me a Tattoo Story is such a sweet, original homage to the love between father and son. The use of body art to reveal not only seminal events in the dad’s life but the trajectory of his child’s birth is inspired. The minimal text highlights the deep emotion, giving the boy in the story as well as young readers the information they are really looking for. The soft-spoken dad is such an appealing character—emotionally available, honest, and offering just the right tone of humorous repartee—for today’s family dynamic.

Beautifully rendering McGhee’s text into art, Eliza Wheeler creates a homey atmosphere that emphasizes the theme of the book while creating tattoos that are immediately accessible to children. The dragon tattoo could come from The Hobbit or Harry Potter, kids will recognize the fun and excitement represented by the Ferris wheel, and the little heart is simplicity at its finest. While the pages depicting the dad’s tattoos are minimally hued, the father’s reminiscences burst with color and details—providing an overall feeling of warmth and affection. The image of the dad in his military uniform over the hot, golden sands on “the longest trip he ever took” will bring a tear to your eye.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tell-me-a-tattoo-story-interior-art-longest-trip

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of abramsandchronicle.co.uk

The originality of the story and gorgeous illustrations make Tell Me a Tattoo Story a must for children’s bookshelves and will become an often-asked-for read during quiet story times or for bedtime.

Ages Birth – 6

Chronicle Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1452119373

To discover more books for children and adults by Alison McGhee, visit her website!

View Eliza Wheeler’s portfolio and other books on her website!

National Tattoo Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-design-your-own-tattoo-template

Design Your Own Tattoo

 

Tattoos can be simple or elaborate, but they are always personal. They tell a story, commemorate an event, or reveal an emotion. What would your tattoo look like? Design your own body art on this printable Design Your Own Tattoo Template!

March 12 – National Plant a Flower Day

MIss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

It’s March—that funny month when some people are basking in 80-degree sunshine and others are still shoveling snow. But no mater where we live, we’re thinking about the same thing—Spring! Spring brings new green leaves, gentle rains, and little shoots that will grow to be trees, vegetable and fruit plants, and flowers. Whether you live somewhere warm and can already plant outside or somewhere that’s still a little chilly and requires indoor propagation, planting flower seeds is a perfect way to beautify your home and your life.

Miss Maple’s Seeds 

By Eliza Wheeler

 

Late in the summer, Miss Maple hurries to prepare for some very special guests. She has searched all summer for unplanted “orphan” seeds, and baskets full of them are winging their way to her home on the backs of bluebirds. Once they arrive she “learns each seed by heart.” There are poppy, wild rice, maple, water lily, pine, impatiens, apple raspberry, sunflower, acorn, pea, fern seeds, and as many more as make up our world.

As she lovingly tends to each one, she says, “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small.” Miss Maple takes them on field trips and shows them the world they will inhabit—the muddy soil along riverbanks, grassy fields, and thick forests. She cautions them about “weedy characters” who can show up even in a “bustling garden.”

At night Miss Maple snuggles each seed into a comfy bed and reads to them by the light of fireflies. During the winter Miss Maple entertains other guests—woodland creatures who gather in her maple tree home and share food, stories, and songs. With the spring come rains and new lessons on burrowing into the ground.

May ushers in another summer, and Miss Maple knows it’s time for her little ones to “find roots of their own.” She sends them out into the world, knowing that she has prepared them well for what they will become. Her seeds say goodbye and sail off to begin their futures, and Miss Maple is left alone. But soon another summer day comes, and Miss Maple sets off to gather more orphan seeds, because “the world is big and they are small.”

Eliza Wheeler’s Miss Maple’s Seeds is a triumph—as comforting as a warm blanket and as empowering as a master key. Wheeler’s beautiful language floats quietly and unhurried like the flight of a leaf on a gentle breeze. The metaphor of seeds and children is so sweetly made, and Miss Marple’s wish for her little charges can bring a tear to the eye of any caretaker.

Wheeler’s luminous artwork is breathtaking in its fully realized details of the wide world Miss Maple’s seeds and all of us inhabit. Each season is gorgeously rendered in soft blues, roses, browns, and yellows, and she imbues the little seeds with personality without making them anthropomorphic. The reader may wish they could be friends with these future beauties and Miss Maple as well.

Miss Maple’s Seeds would be a wonderful gift for high school graduates, teachers, and anyone who loves taking care of children.

Ages 3 – 7, all ages

Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group | ISBN 978-0399257926

Plant a Flower Day Activity

CPB - Flower Pot

Decorated Flower Pot

 

Spring is almost here, and that means flowers will soon be blooming. If you want to beautify your home plant your favorite flower seeds in a pot you’ve decorated yourself!

Supplies

  • Terra cotta pot in any size
  • Acrylic multi-surface paint in various colors
  • Flower seeds
  • Soil

Directions

  1. Paint your terra cotta pot—be creative!
  2. Let paint dry
  3. Fill pot with soil
  4. Plant flower seeds