November 23 – It’s Family Stories Month

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About the Holiday

All families have stories—some funny, some poignant—about family members, friends, and events from the past and even just last week or yesterday! Today’s holiday encourages people to share their stories and is celebrated this month when families typically get together for Thanksgiving. Although our Thanksgiving gatherings will be different this year, sharing stories can still be a part of the day. Oral storytelling, which has been part of people’s lives and culture since ancient times, is a wonderful way to stay connected to your own family heritage and build bonds that last forever.

A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale

Written by Karen Rostoker-Gruber | Illustrated by Kristina Swarner

 

“Farmer Earl, his wife, Marge, and too many children to mention lived in an itty-bitty house….” Their house was so small they hardly had room to turn around. Fed up, Farmer Earl decided to go see the wise woman nearby and ask her advice. The wise woman listened to the farmer’s tale of woe and told him, “Put all of your ducks in your house.”

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Image copyright Kristina Swarner, 2020, text copyright Karen Rostoker-Gruber, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman.

Farmer Earl wasn’t sure how that would help, but back home, he and Marge rounded up all of their ducks and slipped them one-by-one through the window. “The ducks flapped. / The ducks quacked. / The ducks waddled. / The ducks quacked.” They sat on the mantle and in the fireplace. They laid eggs on the floor and their feathers floated everywhere. For the family, “There was no room to sit, / no room to pace, / no room to rest, / no extra space.” Farmer Earl thought it was way too crowded and went back to see the wise woman.

When she heard how the farmer’s house was still too small for his family, she looked up from her knitting and told him, “‘Put all of your horses in your house.’” This didn’t seem to help at all. There were horses showering in the bathtub and ducks bathing in the toilet; horses eating the toilet paper and ducks in the sink. One duck even started nibbling Farmer Earl’s hat. Now there really “was no room to sit, / no room to pace, / no room to rest, / no extra space.”

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Image copyright Kristina Swarner, 2020, text copyright Karen Rostoker-Gruber, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman.

This time when the farmer visited the wise woman, she gave him advice he didn’t want to hear, but when he got home, he did it anyway. It “proved to be a disaster.” Clothes, socks, and even the curtains were gnawed, the beds were rumpled, and food lay scattered all over the kitchen floor. He hurried back to the wise woman and shouted, “‘I’ve had enough!’” Sipping her tea, the wise woman listened to the farmer’s complaints, and then gave one more bit of advice – to return all of the animals to their place on the farm.

“‘How is that going to help?’ wondered Farmer Earl,” but once the animals were back where they belonged and the farmer came home to “no ducks snacking… / no ducks quacking…. / no horses chomping… / no horses stomping…. / no goats licking… / no goats kicking…,” he found there really was room for all!

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Image copyright Kristina Swarner, 2020, text copyright Karen Rostoker-Gruber, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman.

Based on an old Yiddish folktale, Karen Rostoker-Gerber’s story is a hilarious reminder of the importance of perspective in life. Repeated words and phrases build on each other and invite kids to join in the fun as the animals wreck havoc throughout the tiny farmhouse. Farmer Earl’s reliance on the wise woman’s suggestions sets up suspenseful scenes with delightfully funny outcomes that readers will eagerly anticipate. When the animals are all back outside and Farmer Earl realizes the house is big enough for them all, kids will appreciate the cleverness of the wise woman and may look at their own difficult situations in a new way.

Kristina Swarner’s vivid and textured folk-art style illustrations perfectly reflect the plot and humor of the story. As a rooster wakens the family and multiple faces and pets can be seen in each of the farmhouse windows, readers are enticed to count, from page to page, just how many people live in this “itty-bitty” home. Lively images of the house filling up with animals will have kids laughing out loud and wanting to take stock of all the mayhem they’re causing. Astute readers may notice that while Farmer Earl considers his house too small, his children play happily in the space they have, revealing that contentment is the secret to a happy home.

An excellent choice for a rousing story time with a philosophical message, A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale would be a welcome addition to home, school, and library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 7

Albert Whitman & Company, 2020 | ISBN 978-0807556924

Discover more about Karen Rostoker-Gerber and her books on her website.

You can read an interview with Karen here.

To learn more about Kristina Swarner, her books, and her art, visit her website.

A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale Giveaway

I’m happy to be teaming up with Karen Rostoker-Gerber in a giveaway of

  • One (1) copy of A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale, written by Karen Rostoker-Gerber| illustrated by Kristina Swarner

To enter:

  • Follow Celebrate Picture Books
  • Retweet a giveaway tweet
  • Reply with your favorite farm animal for an extra entry. Each reply earns one extra entry.

This giveaway is open from November 23 to November 30 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on December 1. 

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. 

Family Stories Week Activity

CPB - Animal Matching Cards

Animal Match-Up Game

 

During Family Stories Month it’s fun to play games together while learning more about each other. Play this fun matching game to find pairs of animals and talk about your favorite animals, pet stories, and the animals you’d like to see up close!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print two sheets of the Animal Matching Cards for each player
  2. Color the cards (optional)
  3. Cut the cards apart
  4. Scramble the cards and lay them out face-side down
  5. Choosing one card at a time, turn one face up and then another.
  6. If the two cards match leave them face up
  7. If the two cards do not match lay them face down and try again.
  8. As you find matching pairs, leave the cards face up until all the pairs have been found.
  9. If playing against other players, the first to match all their animal cards is the winner

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You can find A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

August 27 – World Rock, Paper, Scissors Day

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About the Holiday

Did you know that rock, paper, scissors is played world wide or that the game can be dated back to the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BCE  to 220 AD)? With such a history, it’s no surprise that this favorite pastime and decision-making method has its own day of celebration. In fact, this game has its own world association that supports global professional tournaments, presents interesting articles, and details the game’s fascinating history. Plus, membership is free! For more information, visit The World Rock, Paper, Scissors Association website. To celebrate today’s holiday, enjoy the epic battle in today’s book! 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Written by Drew Daywalt |Illustrated by Adam Rex

“Long ago in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard,” Rock ruled. There was just one problem. There was no one left who could challenge this mighty warrior. Rock traveled far and wide, even to the “Forest of Over by the Tire Swing.” Here, on a line strung between two trees, he spied a tiny opponent with super strength “holding a giant’s underwear.” The trash talking began as Rock called out Clip Man to fight him. Clip Man was not intimidated and threatened to pinch Rock until he cried. The battle was on! With a smash and a crack, Rock easily defeated Clip Man.

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Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzer + Bray.

Rock’s win just whet his appetite for victory, so he moseyed over to “the Mystical Tower of Grandma’s Favorite Apricot Tree.” There he encountered a small, orange fruit. Rock told the Apricot exactly what he thought of him. Apricot couldn’t let the dis go unchallenged, so the battle was on! Although Apricot gave it his all, his “tart and tangy sweetness” was no match for Rock’s smooshing power. While Rock took some pleasure in his win, it did not bring him the joy he sought. He decided to leave the Kingdom of Backyard in search of a worthy opponent.

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Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzer + Bray.

“Meanwhile, in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, on lonely and windswept Desk Mountain, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle.” Paper was smart and so clever that “no one could outwit him.” As he roamed across the vast desk, Paper met up with Computer Printer, who vowed to gobble him up and spit him out. The battle was on! But within seconds Computer Printer realized he was in a jam—a Paper jam! Flush with victory Paper rappelled over the side into the “Pit of Office Trash Bin,” where the menacing “Half-Eaten Bag of Trail Mix” awaited him. Paper leapt! Paper blocked the light! The Trail Mix fled! Disheartened by this easy win, Paper also left his kingdom in search of a worthy opponent.

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Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzer + Bray.

Back in “the Kitchen Realm in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. They called her Scissors.” She too was looking for a challenging adversary. She was happy to take on the “tacky and vaguely round monstrosity” who confronted her, but Roll of Tape’s “adhesive and tangling powers” were no match for Scissors’ sharp blades. She sauntered across her kingdom to Refrigerator/Freezer, where the breaded-chicken dinosaurs lived. They were ready to fight, and the battle is on! At first it looks as if the “kid-pleasing shapes and flavors” will vanquish Scissors, but it’s just a plot twist! Scissors is victorious again!

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Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzer + Bray.

Scissors knew it was time to move on, so she left the Kitchen Realm for the “Great Cavern of Two-Car Garage.” There she came face-to-face with Rock. They sized each other up, and Scissors threw down the gauntlet: “I hope you’re wearing your battle pants, rock warrior.” Rock answered: “If by ‘battle pants’ you mean ‘no pants but I’m willing to fight you,’ then yes…yes, I am wearing my battle pants, weird scissory one.” The battle was on!

Rock versus Scissors! The battle raged, until…Rock defeated Scissors. Suddenly, Scissors knew the happiness of having a worthy opponent, but Rock was still unsatisfied. Just then Paper floated onto the scene, and with the well-known fighting words, “Hi there,” the battle was on! Brought down and wrapped up by Paper’s flexible forces, Rock was joyful. But what about Paper? Who could defeat him?

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Image copyright Adam Rex, 2017; text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2017. Courtesy of Balzer + Bray.

Scissors stood on her tippy toes and faced Paper. With one smooth slice, she cut a hole in his win record. Now Paper knew the thrill of defeat. The three warriors became fast friends and battled each other over and over. Their story became legend and their legend became the stuff of “backyards, playgrounds, and yes, even classrooms” as kids around the world play Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Get ready for plenty of dramatic reading, out loud laughs, and ringing cheers the moment you open Drew Daywalt’s The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. This worthy spoof on the warrior genre from Medieval knights to the wrestling ring is a hilarious take down of challenges, trash talking, and bravado with a good bit of truth about the nature of competition and friendship: true friends are open to challenges and supportive when the other guy wins. Daywalt’s freewheeling conversational tone, inspired kingdoms, and cunning choices of opponents will have readers looking at their homes in a whole new light.

Employing the same thrilling spectacle as action movies, Adam Rex brings to life the adrenaline-pumping swagger of three brave warriors. Bold typefaces invite spirited reading, and the details of the realms overseen by Rock, Paper, and Scissors will enthrall kids. Both young and adult readers will want to linger and laugh over every page to check out all the anthropomorphized items that populate these kingdoms.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is sure to be a champion in any child’s home library. It would make a perfect gift and a much-asked-for book for exuberant story times.

Ages 4 – 9

Balzer + Bray, HarperCollins, 2017 | ISBN  978-0062438898

Discover more about Drew Daywalt and his books on his website.

Check out books, art, and other fun stuff by Adam Rex on his website!

World Rock, Paper, Scissors Day Activity

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Rock Paper Scissors Extravaganza

Come on! You know what you want to do! Find someone in your family (or everyone in your family!) and challenge them to the battle of all rock, paper, scissors battles just like the two kids in this printable Rock Paper Scissors Coloring Page!

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You can find The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

July 6 – It’s Wild about Wildlife Month

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About the Holiday

This month we honor wildlife—all those majestic creatures of the air, land, and sea that share the earth with us. But what about all of the creatures that live through mythology, legends, stories, and our imagination? Today, we celebrate one of these unique and wild beings that has been around for a long, long time. Maybe you’ve seen one?

Have You Ever Zeen a Ziz?

Written by Linda Elovitz Marshall | Illustrated by Kyle Reed

 

As kids open the cover to this delightful mythologically based story, the narrator asks: “Have you ever zeen a Ziz? Do you wonder what one iz?” Could it be an alien floating through space, or a “giant cat or a prehistoric bat?” It turns out that it’s none of these. A Ziz is a bird with brilliant feathers and a wing span that can block out the sun—or moon.

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Image copyright Kyle Reed, 2020, text copyright Linda Elovitz Marshall, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

But even though the Ziz is huge, “she’s a kindly, gentle bird. / Big and yellow, sweet…absurd.” She lets children play on her enormous back and helps farmers keep their crops on track. But the Ziz is best know for her lilting zongs, which she zings with great gusto no matter the time or place or who she’s with. But when she sleeps, those zongs turn into loud, LOUD snores.

Now if you happen to see one passing by or you look up and can’t see the sky, you’ll know precisely, exactly why.

An Author’s Note following the story reveals that “the Ziz is a mythological bird found in a collection of ancient Jewish writings” and is even mentioned in the Biblical book of Psalms. Marshall includes more information on this legendary bird as well as a reference work.

Funny and endearing, Have You Ever Zeen a Ziz is a joyful read aloud with many applications for classroom lessons and story times. It would be an entertaining addition to home, school, and public library collections.

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Image copyright Kyle Reed, 2020, text copyright Linda Elovitz Marshall, 2020. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Linda Elovitz Marshall’s jaunty, rhyming read aloud is feathered with imagination that will have kids’ own musings soaring. Enchanting in her size, talents, and kindliness, the Ziz will delight readers even as Marshall’s rhythmic storytelling gives teachers and homeschoolers a fun way to interact with language and rhyme schemes, introduce lessons on mythology, and extend story time with an artistic project. After reading, children are sure to want to draw or otherwise create a Ziz or invent a mythological creature of their own. Musical readers may even be inspired to write a song for the Ziz to zing.

Kyle Reed’s collage-style illustrations are whimsical and sweet. As this most unusual bird soars over the ocean, her broad wingspan dwarfs a whale on one side and a crocodile on the other. After seeing a group of friends slide down the Ziz’s loooooong back and neck, kids will wish they had a Ziz at their own playground, and the image of the Ziz standing on the ground with its head in the clouds is a textural beauty. After enjoying Reed’s sightings of the Ziz on mountaintops, skyscrapers, the beach, and anywhere the sky beckons, readers will no doubt be keeping their eyes and ears open for their own view of this spectacular creature.

Ages 4 – 7

Albert Whitman & Company, 2020 | ISBN 978-0807531730

Discover more about Linda Elovitz Marshall and her books on her website.

To learn more about Kyle Reed and see a portfolio of his work, visit his website.

Wild about Wildlife Month Activity

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Draw Your Own Wild Creature

 

With a little imagination, kids can create their own mythological creature to roam the earth under the smiling sun on this printable drawing page.

Wild Creature Drawing Page

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You can find Have You Ever Zeen a Ziz? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review