March 27 – National Joe Day


About the Holiday

Are you just a regular Joe? Well, not today! Today you’re special! Today, we’re honoring all those regular Joes, cups of Joe, and people named or nicknamed Joe—or Jo. Why? Just because! So celebrate today by indulging in your favorite coffee, getting in touch with any friends or family named Joe—or Jo—or even changing your name to Joe for this particular day.

Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown

Written by Eric Litwin | Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld


“Groovy Joe is totally fun. / He’s a song-singing, / tail-wagging / party of one.” And how does he rock? Wow! Like this: “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!” But just as Joe is feeling the beat, there’s a knock on the door. Who is it?  One tuba-playing dog who wants to join in. Now there are two dogs and a big ol’ tuba taking up space, but does Joe mind? Not at all! He just keeps groovin’ with a “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!”


Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin, 2017. Courtesy of

They’re soon interrupted by another knock at the door. Two more dogs come in, so now there are four! Four dogs mean there’s even less room for Joe. “Does Joe get upset? Goodness no!” So the four set to rockin’ ‘til there’s another knock at the door. “Who’s there?” asks Joe, and the answer is four. “Four who? Four more dogs are going to disco with you.” These dogs bring a flute, a cello, a violin, and a guitar. With eight in the room it’s getting pretty crowded, but does Joe care? Not a bit! They just “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!”

A pretty cool squirrel has danced onto the scene, and pretty soon he’s joined the band with his tambourine. Is eight dogs and one squirrel all the room can hold? No! Even though “This party is rocking” and “they’re packed on the floor… Groovy Joe says there’s always room for one more!” Do you know who that is? You’re about to find out because there’s a knock at the door. “Knock! Knock! / Who’s there? / Joe invited. / Joe invited who?” Just look! “Joe invited YOU to come to the party!”

So put on your dancing shoes and get your voice ready to sing because “there’s always room for more” at this “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!”


Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin, 2017. Courtesy of

What little one can resist the upbeat beat of a dance party—especially one as inviting as Eric Litwin and Tom Lichtenheld’s disco bash at Groovy Joe’s? With a little math and a lot of inclusiveness, Litwin shows how adding more friends multiplies the fun. His infectious rhythm and repeated phrasing will have listeners memorizing and reading along with the knock-knock jokes and the call to party. Joe’s final invitation to kids to join in will have them up and dancing along joyfully.

Tom Lichtenheld’s shaggy Joe’s not worried about how much room he has. He’s only got smiles for the other dogs who come knocking at his door. As each new musician joins the band, readers will love watching the various dogs play their instruments and boogie to their own music. With each knock, the dogs stop their playing and turn their eager eyes to the door anticipating the fun repartee to come and the appearance of more friends. Presented addition problems, clearly drawn instruments, and a crew of recognizable dog breeds also give adults and kids lots to talk about during the party.

With playful, action-packed fun for energetic story times, Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown would be a terrific and favorite choice for preschool, kindergarten, and home libraries. The story would even be fun to act out for added learning opportunities.

Ages 3 – 5

Orchard Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-0545883795

Discover more about Eric Litwin, his books, music, and more plus find free downloads on his website

To learn more about Tom Lichtenheld, view a portfolio of his books, and find fun activities, visit his website.

Dance along with Joe and Eric in this Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown book trailer!

National Joe Day Activity


Build a Band Game 


Play this fun game to gather all the instruments you need to create a band. The first person to collect all six instrument cards is the winner!



  1. Print the Paper Die Template, cut it out and assemble the cube die.
  2. Print the Musical Instruments cards, cut out cards, and separate the instruments into piles
  3. Players take turns rolling the die to collect musical instrument cards
  4. The first player to collect all 6 instrument cards is the winner

Picture Book Review

October 22 – National Nut Day


About the Holiday

No, no, no…we’re not going there. Today is a culinary holiday. Today we celebrate cashews, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and all the others. Nuts are nutritious, providing a good source of vitamins, protein, fiber, and important minerals. Eating nuts on a regular basis can also help keep your heart healthy. So crack open some nuts today and have a feast!

The Nuts: Keep Rolling!

Written by Eric Litwin | Illustrated by Scott Magoon


The nut family was enjoying a picnic in the beautiful, hilly outdoors. Everything was great, except Hazel really wished she was bigger and taller so she could reach the apples on a nearby tree. Wally also felt pretty small, but he had a plan. So while Hazel leaped from a rock to try and nab an apple, Wally was busy covering himself with mud. Hazel caught on and pat-patted mud on herself until she was encased in a nice, thick layer.


Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of

Then down the hill “they rolled through sticky / mud and goo. / The more they rolled, / the bigger they grew.” And while they bounced along, “they sang this song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.” As they rolled down the muddy lane they picked up layer upon layer of dirt, sticks, and leaves until “they were the size of cats.”

Being this big was fantastic “until…a pack of dogs came over the hill.”  Hazel and Wally rolled faster to escape, while all the time singing their song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.” Soon, they were as big as the dogs chasing them. They bounded along “until…the dogcatcher came over the hill. Oh, No!” What could they do? You know: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.”


Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of

They hurtled along over gardens and wood piles, growing bigger and bigger until they became as large as elephants. Their little giggles became big laughs “until…the zookeeper came over the hill. Oh, No!” But they were much too fast for him, and as they flew down the road they sang their song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.”


Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of

But suddenly “It started to rain. / The sky turned gray. / The mud and the goo / were all washed away.” Hazel and Wally kept rolling, becoming “smaller and smaller and smaller.” They were back to their original size and discovered they were far from home. But Wally and Hazel knew the way back and knew how to get there quickly too. And all the way they sang their song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.”


Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of

Their mama and papa were so happy to see them, and Hazel and Wally were glad to be back in their home so “cozy and bright.” Then Mama and Papa Nut / hugged them so tight.” Their adventure had taught them a thing about happiness, and now they knew “even though they were small…when you have each other, then you have it all.”

Little ones will giggle, laugh and love to roll with Hazel and Wally and this charming nut family. There’s even a free song and dance download provided. The Nuts: Keep Rolling! would make a much-appreciated gift and a fun addition to home bookshelves for read- aloud story times.


Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of

With his talent for writing catchy story/song mashups, Eric Litwin has created another rollicking picture book that little ones will want to hear again and again. Kids will love joining Hazel and Wally in the “growth spurts” that allow them to become as big as their imaginations. Litwin’s funny repartee and gentle suspense will excite kids as they read and sing along. The sweet message that even though they may be little, they play a big part in the family will delight children.


Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of

Scott Magoon’s dazzling blue sky and green hills set this story in motion as Wally and Hazel find a way to make their wish to be bigger come true. Readers get an inside view as Hazel and Wally keep rolling and pick up layer upon layer of mud, leaves, and sticks. Magoon uses these natural accents to ingeniously define the eyes, ears, and noses of the cats, dogs, and elephants the little nuts become on their jaunt. Adorable Hazel and Wally smile, giggle, and laugh their way through the amusing-not-menacing “dangers,” letting little ones fully enjoy the fun of this boisterous story. The tender final spread is full of warmth and love as this diverse family reunites.

Ages 3 – 6

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0316322515

Check out all of the books, music, and fun stuff for kids by Eric Litwin on his website.

There’s a whole gallery of books and illustration work by Scott Magoon on his website.

You’ll go nuts for this The Nuts: Keep Rolling! book trailer!

National Nut Day Activity


Nutty Pumpkins and Jack O’Lanterns


With acorns falling tap, tap, tap in bushels on the ground and other delicious nuts readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets, autumn is the perfect time for this craft that turns nuts into pumpkins!


  • Acorns or walnuts
  • Orange multi-surface acrylic craft paint or spray paint  
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brush
  • Black, fine tip marker


celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-acorn-pumpkins-craft (3)

For Acorns

  1. Remove the caps
  2. If using acorns for crafts that will be kept long-term, follow these Directions for Drying Acorns
  3. Hold the acorn with the flat side down. The little tip will serve as the pumpkin’s stem.
  4. Paint the acorn, leaving the just the tip brown, let dry
  5. With the flat side down, draw a face on your “pumpkin.” Let dry
  6. Use your little pumpkin in decorations around your house or make a tiny pumpkin patch in a box or jar lid with paper, sticks, leaves or other material

For Walnuts

  1. If you live in an area where there are no oak trees, you can use walnuts or other nuts available in grocery stores. These do not need to be baked before using.
  2. Paint and decorate according to the directions For Acorns

Picture Book Review

March 24 – National Button Day

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean Picture Book ReviewAbout the Holiday

You have to admit it—those little round things that hold our clothes and bags shut are indispensable. Sometimes tiny works of art in their own right, buttons are fascinating. Antique buttons made of glass, metal, or even bone and decorated with intricate paintings, engraved designs, or gemstones offer a glimpse into history, both American and International. Today’s buttons, fashioned into engaging shapes or brightly colored, have stories of their own and enhance whatever garment or item they adorn.

Button collecting was recognized as an organized hobby by the National Button Society in 1938, and National Button Week – which I’m celebrating today – was founded in 1989. The goal is to promote awareness of the fun of button collecting and to recognize the study and display of antique and collectible buttons. Button collecting is a fun hobby that is exciting for all ages.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Written by Eric Litwin | Created and Illustrated by James Dean


It’s 8:00 in the morning and Pete the Cat is ready to start the day wearing his favorite shirt – the one with 4 groovy buttons. Those buttons are big, they are round, they are colorful, and they inspire him to sing a song: “My buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons. My buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons.”

Soon, however, one of the buttons pops off! That leaves Pete with how many buttons? 3! Right! Does Pete cry? “Goodness No! Buttons come and buttons go.” Fortunately for readers buttons continue to GO…inviting kids to do the math and sing the infectious song with each “Pop!”

As Pete sits atop his surfboard atop his VW Beetle looking very beachy, his last button goes sprooiiing and rolls away. What does Pete see then? Why, the only button that won’t desert him—his belly button!

Eric Litwin’s short, fast-paced text contains plenty of exciting opportunities for read-along, shout-along fun on every page. The subtraction problems offered as Pete loses buttons provide early learners with confidence-building moments, and Pete’s easy-going attitude is just right for these hyper-busy times.

James Dean’s illustrations are as big, bold, colorful, and groovy as Pete’s buttons. Vibrant primary colors rivet readers to the page, and—Watch out! That popping button is swirling right at you! But through it all Pete the Cat remains his nonchalant self.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2012 | ISBN 978-0062110589

National Button Week Activity

CPB - Button Coat

Pin the Button on the Coat Game


Pin the Button on the Coat is a fun game you can make yourself and play anytime! It’s great for a button-themed party or on any day that you’re holed up and just poppin’ to do something! The game is played like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” and the object is to get the buttons as close to the center of the coat as possible. Have fun!


CPB - Button Coat II


  1. Cut out the coat, sleeves, and collar following the printable patterns
  2. With the fabric glue, attach the sleeves to the edge of the coat, and the collar to the top of the coat.
  3. Let dry
  4. Cut circles to represent buttons from the other colors of fleece or felt, as many as you need
  5. With the marker make dots to represent holes in the “buttons”
  6. When the glue on the coat is dry, attach it to the clothes hanger with the clothespins

If you like buttons and button crafts, pop on over to February 29—Haiku Writing Day for Guyku—a fun book of poetry—and directions to make a bookmark with colorful buttons!