August 4 – It’s Family Heritage Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-family-cover

About the Holiday

When families form, each person comes with their own history, which is then blended to create an entirely new story. Some families know all about great, great, great grandma or grandpa, while for some the distant past is a bit hazy. No matter how much you know about your family, though, you know that each step along the way for each person has brought you to the place you are now—together! This month encourages people to research their genealogy and discover more about their ancestors. It can be fun to draw a family tree or put together a scrapbook of photos, old and new. But whatever you do, don’t forget to celebrate your family!

One Family

Written by George Shannon | Illustrated by Blanca Gomez

 

It’s 6:00 and “one is one”: a little lady with a cotton-candy swirl of white hair is reading one book in the light of her one lamp. In the bedroom “one is two”: a boy and a girl have changed into pajamas, leaving one pair of shoes—two shoes with yellow laces—and a shirt on the floor. They’ve grabbed their team of horses—two stick ponies—and are galloping around the room. They make one family.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-family-bedroom

Image copyright Blanca Gomez, 2015, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Outside, “one is three”: a little girl is out with her mom and dad. As they pass a window, she points to one bowl of fruit holding three pears. In the toyshop window, the girl sees one house of three bears. The one family walks by happily. On another street “one is four”: two kids sit in their grandpa and grandma’s car. Grandpa has one ring of four keys. Grandma is carrying a basket with one pile of four puppies. Where is this one family going?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-family-five

Image copyright Blanca Gomez, 2016, text copyright George Shannon, 2015. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

At the zoo “one is five”: a family of three kids and two adults watch one monkey hold one bunch of five bananas while another plays with one hand of five cards. In a busy house “one is six”: While a woman hangs out one line of six wet shirts, a girl paints one butterfly with six legs. The six people are one family working together.

In another neighborhood “one is seven”: one flock of seven birds flies over the tall apartment houses as one family of four adults, a child, and twin babies talk. Who is the “one bouquet of seven blooms” for? A door opens to a home where “one is eight”: one picture of eight ducks hangs on the wall above a child coloring with one box of eight crayons. The room is getting full as eight people from one family find places to gather.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-family-seven

Image copyright Blanca Gomez, 2015, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

At the seaside “one is nine”: a group of nine men, women, and children sit on one bench near one staircase of nine steps. One of the children has built one cairn of nine rocks. In a bustling kitchen “one is ten”: sitting at the table and standing near the stove are ten members of one family. A girl has baked one batch of ten cookies. On the wall is one shelf of ten books.

In this one town, all these people come together walking dogs, playing with balls, visiting neighbors, waving from windows, strolling babies, and having fun. Here “One is one and everyone. One earth. One world. One family.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-family-one-world

Image copyright Blanca Gomez, 2015, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

In his unique take on a counting book, George Shannon challenges readers to consider the way we think about the number and the idea of “one,” both mathematically and linguistically. Along the way the story also invites readers to think about the nature of family. As each family unit grows larger from page to page, children see that no matter how many people are included, the group is one family. The sequential building on the idea of family organically leads to the insight that our one world is made up of many people—and even many families—but that we are all connected as one family on earth.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-one-family-ten

Image copyright Blanca Gomez, 2015, text copyright George Shannon, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

In her vibrant and inclusive illustrations, Blanca Gomez celebrates what it means to be a family and even invites readers to perhaps make up their own stories about how each family came together. Every page offers welcome views of multigenerational, interracial, and multiethnic families. Three examples of the featured number on each two-page spread are just the right amount for kids to count and discuss how we use collective nouns to denote ideas such as “one pair” for two or “one batch” and “one bunch” for any number of cookies or flowers. A final spread gives readers another chance to count the items they found in the book, and the endpapers tell a story of their own.

With so much to see, talk about, and count, on every page, One Family is a fantastic book to add to school, classroom, and home libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015 | ISBN 978-0374300036

Find a gallery of illustration and other artwork by Blanca Gomez on her website!

Family Heritage Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-family-tree-coloring-page

I Love My Family Tree! Coloring Page

 

Filling in a family tree is a fun way to learn more about grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and where your family came from. Print this I Love My Family Tree! Coloring Page then write the names or draw pictures of your family members in the hearts, and color the picture.

Picture Book Review

July 18 – It’s Park and Recreation Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pedal-power-cover

About the Holiday

We’ve hit mid-summer, and maybe you’re looking for something to do. This month’s holiday encourages people to get out and enjoy some exercise and fun in parks, at home, at the gym, in the pool, on tennis courts, or wherever you like to play. Biking is another wonderful activity that adults and kids can share, whether you live in a small town or the city.

Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World

By Allan Drummond

 

If you were to visit the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, you’d be amazed at the number of bicyclists sharing the roads with cars and trucks. In fact, if you could count all of the bicycles going here, there, and everywhere, you’d see that “bikes rule the road.” It wasn’t always like this. Back in the 1970s cars were still king, making the roads unsafe for cyclists.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pedal-power-bikes

Copyright Allan Drummond, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

But then “young moms like Maartje Rutten and her friends—and their children” decided to make a change. They called their friends, who called their friends, and word started to get around that roads should be shared by all. People in Amsterdam and all over the Netherlands started protesting. “At first the demonstrations were great fun. People even held parties in the middle of the road.” People sang songs, made human chains across streets, and talked to the media.

Then a tragedy made people look at the issue more seriously. A little girl riding her bike to school was killed by a car. Her father was a newspaper reporter, and he wrote a story revealing that just in that year alone five hundred children had been killed on the roads and “many of them were riding bikes.” This situation made people angry. More and more citizens joined the protests.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pedal-power-protests

Copyright Allan Drummond, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

At the same time, gas prices were rising and fuel was becoming scarce. The government even banned cars from the roads on Sundays. “That gave Maartje an incredible idea.” She gathered her friends and told them her plan: they would ride their bikes through the new tunnel that was strictly for cars. Many people were wary but they came anyway, and on a quiet Sunday they pedaled through the darkness.

As they neared the mouth of the tunnel, they could see the police waiting for them. Some of the riders wanted to turn around and go back, but Maartje pushed on and they followed. When they reached the end, the cops told them they had broken the law. The cyclists were taken to the police station. There, they were given lemonade and cookies. Maartje even “noticed that the policemen were smiling just a little bit. Maybe all of this protesting is working, she thought.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pedal-power-more-protests

Copyright Allan Drummond, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

She was right! After that Maartje and her friends thought of other ways cars and bikes could share the roads. “They proposed special bike lanes on busy routes, traffic bumps and curves in the roads to slow down vehicles, and new laws giving bikes the right-of-way over cars.” Finally, it all came together. Now Amsterdam is known as the bike capitol of the world. Their ideas, including bike lanes, bike sharing, and new laws, are used in countries all over the globe.

Biking offers so much more than just less-crowded streets. It provides exercise, a quiet form of transportation, and a pollution-free way to get around. And, of course, bikes don’t require fuel to go. If you visit Amsterdam, you might even see Maartje riding around town on her bike. “Now that’s pedal power!”

An Author’s Note about how Pedal Power came to be and about the past and future of city biking follows the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pedal-power-Amsterdam-today

Copyright Allan Drummond, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Allan Drummond’s city bike-ography is an interesting look at the revolution and evolution of bike-friendly roads in Amsterdam and other large cities. By following the story of Maartje Rutten and how she transformed the mindset of both local drivers and government officials, Drummond allows young readers to see how one person can make lasting changes that benefit all.

Drummond’s colorful and clearly depicted illustrations take children into the heart of Amsterdam—and Amsterdam traffic—to understand the problem and join in the protests. As Maartje and her friends ride through the dark tunnel to face the police, readers will wait in suspense to learn how this peaceful demonstration played out.

Pedal Power would be a great addition to Social Studies units and an engaging read for kids interested in biking, history, and environmental issues.

Ages 4 – 8

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017 | ISBN 978-0374305277

Discover more about Allan Drummond, his books, and his art on his website!

Park and Recreation Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bicycle-coloring-page-2

Everything on a Bicycle Coloring Page

 

Riding a bicycle is a fast, fun way to exercise, do shopping, and spend time with friends. This printable Everything on a Bicycle Coloring Page combines them all and then some! Grab your colored pencils, crayons, or markers and give it a go!

Picture Book Review

July 17 – Global Hug Your Kid Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-cover

About the Holiday

The purpose of today’s holiday is simple: show your child or children that you love them by giving them a hug. And why stop at just one? Give hugs throughout the day, and tell your kids how much and why you love them!

Hug it Out!

By Louis Thomas

 

With rain pelting the windows, brother and sister Woody and Annie were playing inside. Woody was building an airport while Annie was creating a town from blocks. Everything was going great “until…they both reached for the car.” Then a tug-of-war began. Woody “wanted the car to pick up travelers from his airport” and Annie needed a little traffic in her town. They both yelled for Mom, who made them promise to be better sharers. Woody and Annie agreed with a pinky swear.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-playing-happily

Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

But the sharing didn’t last long. Wasn’t Annie spending too  much time with the car? Didn’t Woody keep it too long? Both sides thought the other unfair, and then there was the name-calling: Annie called Woody a “‘dumb-dumb,’” and Woody retaliated with “‘ding-dong,’” and they both called for “‘Mommm….’” Mom returned with coffee in hand and requested that Annie and Woody apologize to each other. A couple of mumbles later, Mom proclaimed it “‘Good enough’” until little feet started getting involved, and cries of “‘Ow!’” and “‘Quit it!’” filled the air. And…oh yeah… “‘Mommmm!’”

Mom had had enough! This time she laid down the law, and Woody and Annie—eyes wide in and hands to their cheeks in horror—heard her say, “From now on, any time you argue, you’re going to have to…HUG IT OUT.’” Annie and Woody were flummoxed, confused, perplexed. Mom pushed them together cheek to cheek to demonstrate, and with frowny faces and stiff arms, they hugged.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-fighting-over-car

Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Still, the chasing— “‘Hug it out!’” —the hair pulling— “‘Hug it out!’” —the squabbling— “‘Hug it out!’” —and the wrestling— “‘HUG IT OUT!’” (this time with stuck-out tongues) continued. Finally, Annie confessed that she couldn’t “‘take one more hug,’” and Woody agreed. The two went back to playing—apart. Woody flew his planes, and Annie took care of her town. “And they both found a way to play with the car.”

After a while they looked at each other with an unexpected realization. “‘Mommmm!’ Annie screamed. ‘Mommmm!’ Woody screamed louder.” And their mom answered “‘HUG IT OUT!’” And with big smiles, “they did.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-wrestling

Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Louis Thomas is onto something in this timely, sibling-rivalry story. Kids—and adults—will recognize the realistic dialogue and circumstances that makes Hug It Out! a laugh-out-loud tug at the heart. Thomas’s positive “punishment” is a clever solution to those sister and brother squabbles and might inspire parents and caregivers to give it a try. Readers will love shouting out “Mommm!” and “Hug it Out!” in this perfect—and perfectly fun—read-along. Thomas’s bright-eyed, straw-haired siblings are adorable, and kids will giggle to see the two smooshed together in a forced hug that becomes closer and closer with every attempt to make up and later becomes a sought-out part of the day.

With it’s wry take on the daily travails of sister- and brotherhood, Hug It Out! would make an amusing addition to home bookshelves—one that might be reached for with every “Mommm!” 

Ages 3 – 7

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017 | ISBN 978-0374303143

To view galleries of illustration work by Louis Thomas, visit his blog and tumblr!

Global Hug Your Kid Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sock-and-mitten-neck-warmer-and-pillow

Warm Hugs Neck Warmer or Pillow

 

Sometimes a little hug around the neck is just what you need to feel relaxed. With this easy craft you can make a soft pillow to support your head or a neck warmer for those times when you need to de-stress.

Supplies

  • Knee sock or tall crew sock
  • 2 knit gloves
  • Fiber Fill (for pillow and mittens)
  • Uncooked rice (for neck warmer)
  • Thread
  • Needle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sock-and-mitten-neck-warmer-and-pillow

Directions

For Pillow

  1. Fill knee sock or crew sock with fiber fill
  2. Sew open end of sock closed 
  3. Fill knit gloves with fiber fill
  4. Sew one mitten to each end of the sock 
  5. Curve sock pillow around neck and relax!

For Neck Warmer

  1. Fill knee sock with uncooked rice
  2. Sew open end of sock closed
  3. Fill knit mittens with fiber fill
  4. Sew one mitten to each end of the sock
  5. Heat in microwave for 1 minute and then in 30-second increments until desired warmth

Picture Book Review

 

March 25 – Earth Hour Day

picture-book-review-green-city-allan-drummond

About the Holiday

Earth Hour was organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature as a way to engage people in the discussion on climate change. First enacted in Australia in 2007, the observance has grown to include cities, businesses, corporations, and individuals world wide. For one hour – from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time – participants will turn off all unnecessary lights in a show of solidarity and commitment to protecting our earth. Among the places going dark this year are the Empire State Building, the Space Needle, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Colosseum in Rome, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Sydney Opera House, and the Eiffel Tower.

Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future

By Allan Drummond

 

On May 4, 2007 a devastating tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas, destroying the town in 9 minutes. When the residents of the town climbed from their shelters, they emerged into a world completely changed. There were no more homes, no school, no hospital, no grocery store or other shops. No banks, theater, churches, or water tower. Even the trees had been shredded. Only three buildings remained.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-green-city-after-tornado

Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

The citizens were urged to move away. Rebuilding would be impossible, some said, and what was the point anyway when the wind could destroy it all again? But others saw opportunity to construct a different kind of town. With the help of volunteers and donations from around the world, Greensburg began the Herculean task of designing and building a new town.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-green-city-rebuilding-starts

Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

After clearing away 388,000 tons of debris and moving into a community of trailer homes, the people began to envision a unique, green town. Individuals designed sustainable houses of different shapes and materials that would work with the environment. Businesses, too, incorporated sustainability into their offices, retail centers, and hotels as did the hospital and the water tower. A wind farm large enough to provide energy for the entire town was built on the edge of this innovative city.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-green-city-one-house

Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

A new school was central to the town’s survival, and for three years the teachers held class in small trailers. Along with their regular studies, the kids became experts in environmental science. After several years Greenburg became a thriving city—a testament to conservation and sustainability that remains an example for global communities now and in the future.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-green-city-Greensburg-now

Image and text copyright Allan Drummond, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Allan Drummond tells this fascinating story of a community that would not give up in an honest and sensitive way that highlights the courage and pride of a town amid devastating loss. Told from a child’s point of view, the story has extra impact for readers who are growing up amid an era of environmental awareness and activism. The sustainable construction of homes and other buildings is effectively explained and clearly depicted in Drummond’s colorful illustrations.

The images also demonstrate the process of negotiation and cooperation among townspeople that went into designing and building a new Greensburg. The final two-page spread of the town’s layout will interest kids as well as adults who have followed this story in the news.

Ages 5 – 9

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016 | ISBN 978-0374379995

Discover more about Allan Drummond, his illustration work and his books on his website!

Earth Hour Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-flashlight-clip-art

Flashlight On, Flashlight Off Game

 

It’s fun to play games in the dark! During Earth Hour flip off your lamps and overhead lights and play this game that challenges your memory while you think about our planet! This game can be played with two or more players.

Supplies

  • Flashlight 
  • 6 – 12 small objects (the number of objects can be adjusted depending on the ages of the players)
  • A table or floor area large enough to lay out the objects

Directions

With the Flashlight On:

  1. Lay out the objects on a table or on the floor
  2. Give all the players time to look at the objects and try to memorize them
  3. Choose one player to remove one of the objects

With the Flashlight Off

  1. Turn off the flashlight
  2. While the room is dark, the designated player removes one object from the rest
  3. Turn the flashlight back on

With the Flashlight Back On

  1. The other players try to figure out which object is missing

Variations

  • In addition to removing one object, the other objects can be moved around to different positions
  • Remove more than one object at a time
  • Add an object instead of removing one

Picture Book Review

 

January 21 – Hugging Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-cover

About the Holiday

This is one of those lovely, simple holidays that’s just what it seems. So go ahead and hug someone today.

Hug it Out!

By Louis Thomas

 

With rain pelting the windows, brother and sister Woody and Annie were playing inside. Woody was building an airport while Annie was creating a town from blocks. Everything was going great “until…they both reached for the car.” Then a tug-of-war began. Woody “wanted the car to pick up travelers from his airport” and Annie needed a little traffic in her town. They both yelled for Mom, who made them promise to be better sharers. Woody and Annie agreed with a pinky swear.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-playing-happily

Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

But the sharing didn’t last long. Time with the car seemed unfair, and then there was the name-calling: Annie called Woody a “‘dumb-dumb,’” and Woody retaliated with “‘ding-dong,’” and they both called for “‘Mommm….’” Mom returned with coffee in hand and requested that Annie and Woody apologize to each other. A couple of mumbles later, Mom proclaimed it “‘Good enough’” until little feet started getting involved, and cries of “‘Ow!’” and “‘Quit it!’” filled the air. And…oh yeah… “‘Mommmm!’”

Mom had had enough! This time she laid down the law, and Woody and Annie—eyes wide in and hands to their cheeks in horror—heard her say, “From now on, any time you argue, you’re going to have to…HUG IT OUT.’” Annie and Woody were flummoxed, confused, perplexed. Mom pushed them together cheek to cheek to demonstrate, and with frowny faces and stiff arms, they hugged.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-fighting-over-car

Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Still, the chasing— “‘Hug it out!’” —the hair pulling— “‘Hug it out!’” —the squabbling— “‘Hug it out!’” —and the wrestling— “‘HUG IT OUT!’” (this time with stuck-out tongues) continued. Finally, Annie confessed that she couldn’t “‘take one more hug,’” and Woody agreed. The two went back to playing—apart. Woody flew his planes, and Annie took care of her town. “And they both found a way to play with the car.”

After a while they looked at each other with an unexpected realization. “‘Mommmm!’ Annie screamed. ‘Mommmm!’ Woody screamed louder.” And their mom answered “‘HUG IT OUT!’” And with big smiles, “they did.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hug-it-out-wrestling

Image and text copyright Louis Thomas, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Louis Thomas is onto something in this timely, sibling-rivalry story. Kids—and adults—will recognize the realistic dialogue and circumstances that makes Hug It Out! a laugh-out-loud tug at the heart. Thomas’s positive “punishment” is a clever solution to those sister and brother squabbles and might inspire parents and caregivers to give it a try. Readers will love shouting out “Mommm!” and “Hug it Out!” in this perfect—and perfectly fun—read-along. Thomas’s bright-eyed, straw-haired siblings are adorable, and kids will giggle to see the two smooshed together in a forced hug that becomes closer and closer with every attempt to make up and later becomes a sought-out part of the day.

With it’s wry take on the daily travails of sister- and brotherhood, Hug It Out! would make an amusing addition to home bookshelves—one that might reached for with every “Mommm!” 

Ages 3 – 7

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017 | ISBN 978-0374303143

To view galleries of illustration work by Louis Thomas, visit his blog and tumblr!

Hugging Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sock-and-mitten-neck-warmer-and-pillow

Warm Hugs Neck Warmer or Pillow

Supplies

  • Knee sock or tall crew sock
  • 2 knit gloves
  • Fiber Fill (for pillow and mittens)
  • Uncooked rice (for neck warmer)
  • Thread
  • Needle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sock-and-mitten-neck-warmer-and-pillow

Directions

For Pillow

  1. Fill knee sock or crew sock with fiber fill
  2. Sew open end of sock closed 
  3. Fill knit gloves with fiber fill
  4. Sew one mitten to each end of the sock 
  5. Curve sock pillow around neck and relax!

For Neck Warmer

  1. Fill knee sock with uncooked rice
  2. Sew open end of sock closed
  3. Fill knit mittens with fiber fill
  4. Sew one mitten to each end of the sock
  5. Heat in microwave for 1 minute and then in 30-second increments until desired warmth

Picture Book Review

 

 

 

December 30 – Bacon Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone-loves-bacon

About the Holiday

Bacon has been around since ancient times. In early French it was known as Bako, in German as Bakko, and in Teutonic as Backe. In Middle English it was called Bacoun, but all these words simply meant “back,” as in the back meat of pigs. Preserved and flavored, bacon is a favorite the world over and has seen an explosion of uses in the past few years, from enhancing cupcakes, apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies to spicing up peanut butter sandwiches, lasagna, and French toast. There’s nothing like waking up to the sizzling aroma of bacon, and today’s holiday gives you the okay to indulge!

Everyone Loves Bacon

Written by Kelly Dipucchio | Illustrated by Eric Wight

 

From Egg to Waffle to Pancake, there was no one who didn’t love Bacon—even Bacon himself. Well…maybe French Toast was an exception, but he “doesn’t like anyone.” Bacon loved all the attention the other foods gave him. Jalapeño wanted to sit next to him, and Garlic thought he smelled so good! He made the fruit and vegetables laugh with his “charming stories and funny jokes,” and, boy, could he play the ukulele!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone-loves-bacon-taking-picture

Image copyright Eric Wight, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Ham, sausage link, and sausage patty were jealous, “but Bacon didn’t care about them. Not one bit.” After all, “He was becoming a real celebrity. His picture appeared on t-shirts. And billboards. And buses.” Bacon was so enthralled with himself that he began to forget his friends. Sometimes he even “pretended not to know some of his old friends.” Bacon had fans, and that was enough for him.

Bacon began to live the high life of sports cars, designer clothes, and the latest fads. He was even the star of the breakfast pastry parade. “Indeed Bacon was the toast of the town. Until….” Well…we did warn you that “everyone loves Bacon.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone-loves-bacon-umbrellas

Image copyright Eric Wight, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Kelly Dipucchio’s witty cautionary tale about a piece of bacon that gets too big for his broiler sizzles with snappy sentences and the perils of celebrity. She chooses words and experiences that are recognizable to any child navigating the world of school, siblings, and friends, and with sly winks to popular culture shows that mistaking fans for friends ends badly and that there is always someone “bigger” than you.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-everyone-loves-bacon-spoon-mirror

Image copyright Eric Wight, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Even if readers don’t like the taste of bacon, they won’t be able to resist Eric Wight’s adorable slice who becomes the star of a 1950s-era diner. From the first page where Bacon admires himself in the back of a spoon, kids will giggle as Bacon takes pictures with equally cute Hotdog, Chicken Leg, Pickle, Garlic, and Jalapeño, leads a citrus parade complete with paper cocktail umbrellas, and plays the ukulele for swooning tater tots, French fries, and curly fries. But as the other foods grow sad and disgruntled with Bacon’s attitude—even brandishing fancy toothpicks—kids will understand and empathize with these forgotten friends. When Bacon meets his fate on the last page, readers are sure to fork over a howl of surprise.

Ages 3 – 6

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015 | ISBN 978-0374300524

To learn more about Kelly Dipucchio and her books, visit her website!

Bacon Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazin'-bacon-maze

Amazin’ Bacon Maze

 

There’s some tasty bacon sizzling in the center of this frying pan-shaped maze. Can you find your way through this printable Amazin’ Bacon Maze to eat it up? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

October 16 – Dictionary Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-w-is-for-webster-cover-image

About the Holiday

Dictionary Day honors Noah Webster, who wrote the first American dictionary. He was born in 1758 to a family that loved learning and knew the importance of a good education. Even as a boy Noah Webster loved words. He went on to become a lawyer, newspaper editor, Connecticut and Massachusetts legislator, and he helped found Amherst College in Massachusetts.

He is most well-known, however, for compiling the first American dictionary that is synonymous with his name and still the most popular dictionary in use. His work, first published in 1828, revolutionized the way language and words were presented and remains always current by every year adding new words that come into common use through new products, fads, and slang.

Wordsmiths the world over celebrate both the amazing accomplishment that is the dictionary, and I would imagine, their own well-thumbed and well-loved copies of this remarkable resource.

W is for Webster: Noah Webster and His American Dictionary

Witten by Tracey Fern | Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

 

Noah Webster was always different. Tall and thin with bright red hair, he liked to use big words when he spoke and wanted to do homework instead of goof around in school. Unfortunately for him school was in session for only a few months a year and goofing around seemed to be the major course of study. Of course, Noah didn’t call it “goofing around,” he called it “‘playing roguish tricks.’”

Noah begged to go to a harder school. “His pa knew Noah would make a terrible farmer. Noah spooked the cows by reciting Latin and spent too much time reading Ames’ Almanack under the apple trees.” His pa agreed, and in 1774 at the age of 16 Noah went off to study at nearby Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale had strict rules. Students had to rise at 5:30 a.m. and study for two hours before class. They were also fined “two shillings for making ‘tumult, noise, hallooing,’ or otherwise goofing around. Noah thought Yale was wonderful.”

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Image copyright Boris Kulikov, text copyright Tracey Fern. Courtesy of macmillan.com

Noah hadn’t been at Yale long before the American Revolutionary War broke out. Although Noah signed up to fight, he recognized that he was “‘ill able to bear the fatigues of a soldier,’” which was “Noah’s big way of saying he was a lousy soldier.” He returned to Yale and graduated in 1778, but he left the school with no job and no prospects. Even his pa told him to leave home to find work.

Noah became a teacher, but he found the British textbooks “‘defective and erroneous.’” He believed the students should have American textbooks that better reflected their diverse experiences. With the Revolutionary War at an end and America victorious, Noah wanted to help “hold his new, complicated nation together.” He believed that America needed a language different than the English spoked in Britain. “‘A national language is a national tie,’ Noah insisted to all who would listen, and to many who wouldn’t.”

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Image copyright Boris Kulikov. Courtesy of macmillan.com

He began the work himself with a speller. Right from the start Noah’s speller was different than the British books. It included everyday words “like scab, grub, and mop.” He also simplified the spelling by taking out unpronounced letters or spelling words phonetically. He also added pictures to every page and presented lists of rhyming words. He also priced his book so almost anyone could afford it. Noah’s speller became a bestseller.

Still, Noah had bigger ideas. He wanted to write a patriotic dictionary with uniquely American words. He took his idea on the road to make money for the venture, lecturing wherever he could. But Noah’s know-it-all tone of delivery, his “prickly personality,” even his “‘porcupine hair’” put people off. And what’s more, they didn’t like the idea of his dictionary. People thought he was a “lunatic” for wanting to replace British words with American ones.

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Image copyright Boris Kulikov, text copyright Tracey Fern. Courtesy of macmillan.com

In 1806 Noah went ahead and published “A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. It was a flop, but Noah wasn’t discouraged.” The next year he started working on a bigger dictionary. He copied words out of British dictionaries and added American words and he traced the roots of all the words and wrote definitions, sometimes including quotes from famous people to show differences in meaning. He figured the whole dictionary would take 5 years to finish—eight to ten, tops.

But five years later, Noah was still on the letter A. With no money coming in and a growing family, Noah took a variety of jobs, but he always seemed to rub someone the wrong way, and he lost job after job. He decided to sell his fancy house and bought a farm. Here he was able to gather books, books, and more books around his unusual donut-shaped desk. Standing inside the center of the desk, he spun around and around reading the books and finding words to include in his dictionary.

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Image copyright Boris Kulikov. Courtesy of macmillan.com

By 1822 Noah had exhausted all the books in his study. He took to traveling to other American libraries, moved his family to New Haven to use the Yale library, and in 1824 even sailed to Europe to explore books found in the National Library in Paris and at the University of Cambridge in England.

Finally, in 1825 Noah finished his dictionary.  With more than 70,000 words, An American Dictionary of the English Language was the largest English dictionary ever written. “Many people thought it was the best English dictionary ever written.” Why the change of heart? Well, one reason might have been that the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, “was a common man and a bad speller.” Another might have been that the timing was just right.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-w-is-for-webster-finished-dictionary

Image copyright Boris Kulikov, text copyright Tracey Fern. Courtesy of macmillan.com

However it came to be, Noah was now lauded as a hero by states and newspapers. Congress even adopted the dictionary as its standard reference book. Noah had not only succeeded in writing an American dictionary, he had “created a new American language for a new American nation.” One that is still beloved today.

An Author’s note as well as a list of resources follow the text.

Webster’s dictionary is intrinsically woven into every American child’s life through language and vocabulary development. Tracey Fern’s captivating story reveals the charm and foibles of its author, a man with just the right temperament and perseverance to tackle and complete such an overwhelming task. Fern’s exceptional storytelling skills and deft turns of phrase allow for a comprehensive review of Webster’s life that is full of exhilaration, empathy, and a good dose of the “big” words Webster loved. Fern builds suspense and tension while offering an insightful look at early American history by including details of the staggering research required and the adverse reactions to Webster and his work.

Boris Kulikov’s expressive illustrations perfectly capture the complex personality of Noah Webster, late-1700s-to-early-1800s American society, and the obstacles Webster faced in writing his dictionary. Fittingly, words, books, or ink blots abound on every page, pouring from the air, sprouting from the ground, stacked like the skyscrapers that would come, and surrounding Noah Webster the way they must have swarmed through his brain. Kulikov infuses humor into his paintings, as when Noah tears at his hair wondering how he will support himself after college, shrugs nonplussed at his students’ shenanigans, and buys himself quiet work time by handing out sweets to his kids. Visual metaphors for the hard, backbreaking and mind bending work also enhance this beautiful biography.

Ages 5 – 10 (adult’s will also enjoy this biography)

Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015 | ISBN 978-0374382407

Visit Tracey Fern’s website to learn more about her and her books!

Discover a gallery of artwork by Boris Kulikov on his website!

Dictionary Day Activity

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“Big Words” Word Search

 

Knowing and using a wide range of words allows you to express yourself in exact—and often—fun ways. Find the 26 “big” words—one for each letter of the alphabet—in this printable “Big Words” Word Search puzzle. Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review