October 10 – National Face Your Fears Day

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About the Holiday

Going outside your comfort zone can be scary, but being afraid holds you back and affects your quality of life. Today’s holiday encourages people to face their fears and overcome trepidation or hesitance and say, “I’m going to do it!” Perhaps knowing that others are also trying the hard thing today will provide a little extra courage. You never know what you can achieve until you take that first step!

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

By Dan Santat

 

If readers don’t quite remember what happened to Humpty Dumpty back in the day,  his unfortunate accident is captured on the title page. But this is not a story about falling (we all do that sometimes). Instead, as the subtitle reveals, it’s about the recovery. Here, Humpty Dumpty tells his story his way—what really happened on that fateful day and afterward.

Humpty takes readers back to the scene where it all happened: his “favorite spot high up on the wall.” He acknowledges that it’s a strange place for such a fragile being to be, but up there he felt closer to the birds. He goes on to say that he’s not really comfortable with all the fuss and the fancy “Great Fall” title. It was just a mistake; even if that mistake did change his life.

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

It turns out that despite what we’ve all learned, the king’s men were able to patch Humpty up. Well, at least partly. His shell was repaired, but inside? “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Where Humpty once loved his bunk bed above his desk, he now slept on a mat on the floor; he only bought items from the lowest grocery store shelves; and even though he passed the wall every day, he knew he could never climb the ladder to the top again.

Humpty resigned himself to watching the birds from the ground through a pair of binoculars. Then, one day, a paper airplane streaked across the sky and gave him an idea. Paper airplanes looked so easy to make, but Humpty found it hard. Day after day he struggled, suffering paper cuts and scratches. One day, though, he “got it just right.” In his hand was a beautiful paper bird.

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Humpty took his bird plane outside and launched it into the air. “It flew like nothing could stop it.” Humpty felt happier than he had in ages, and even though watching his plane wasn’t the same as being on top of the wall among the birds, “it was close enough.” But then the unthinkable happened—the bird plane flew over the wall. Humpty was well aware that “unfortunately, accidents happen…they always do.”

For a minute Humpty Dumpty considered walking away. But then he remembered all the work he’d put into his plane, which led him to think about all the things he was missing out on. He looked up that tall, tall ladder and started to climb. The farther up he got, though, the more afraid he became. Without looking up or down, he continued climbing. “One step at a time.”

When he reached the top, he “was no longer afraid.” At that moment, as his shell began to crack and he felt lighter and more powerful. Humpty tells readers that he hopes they won’t remember him as “that egg who was famous for falling,” but as “the egg who got back up and learned how to fly.”

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Dan Santat deftly works with preconceived notions and a well-known idiom to turn the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty into an inspirational “happily ever after” story. Just as fears can come to define a person, traditional interpretations of this tale classify Humpty as a chicken egg and specify his lack of repair as physical. But what if, as Santat envisions, Humpty is the egg of a bird that soars and that his hurts are more internal? Then readers can identify with this hero who doesn’t give in and who conquers his fear to come out of his shell and fly. Santat’s honest, straightforward storytelling will resonate with young readers and listeners. The gentle reassurance in After the Fall will encourage children to try again—one step at a time.

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Santat’s luminous illustrations express wonder, humor, and touching moments in ways that not only enhance the story but make readers think about other issues as well.  Children will want to linger over the pages to catch all the references to Humpty’s bird watching hobby, take in the enormity of the wall that Humpty Dumpty confronts, and catch humorous takes on the original rhyme, including Santat’s King’s County Hospital. Adults and kids alike will enjoy poring over and discussing the wall of cereals, and as Humpty’s tiny hand reaches for the next rung on the ladder adults may feel a lump in their throats. When Humpty breaks free of his shell and emerges in the same form as the paper bird he created, readers may consider whether Humpty spent time only working on his toy or on himself as well.

After the Fall is a picture book that offers reassurance and invites deeper discussion. The book would be a welcome addition to home, classroom, and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626726826

Learn more about Dan Santat and After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) on the book’s website.

Face your Fears Day Activity

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Calming Sensory Jar

 

You can capture the beauty of a glittering snowfall in this easy craft—that also makes a special gift for a friend!

Supplies

  • Small to medium mason jar or other decorative jar with a tight lid
  • White glitter glue,
  • Light blue glitter glue,
  • Fine white and/or blue glitter
  • Large white and/or blue glitter
  • Warm water

Directions

1. For every 1/2 cup of warm water add:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon blue glitter glue
  • 2 teaspoons fine glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon large glitter

2. Close lid tight

3. Shake

4. As glue dissolves, the liquid will become clearer and the glitter will remain suspended in it

Picture Books Review

 

September 22 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

Such a terrific month—so many terrific new books! If you haven’t taken the opportunity of this month’s holiday to visit your local bookstore and buy any of the books you’ve seen here or elsewhere, you still have time! Adding new inspirational, educational, encouraging, and just plain funny books—like today’s—to a child’s home bookshelf lets them know that reading is important and a fantastic way to spend downtime each day.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

 

You know the drill—Once upon a time there was a poor boy named Jack…. One day this waif woke up to a moo-tivating kiss from his cow Bessie and… Wait, wait! Kids, cover your eyes! And, Jack, “put on some pants!” Phew! Disaster averted! Now where were we? Oh, right. So Jack (now well-dressed) was told that because Bessie had stopped making milk, he had to sell her. He protested, but the mysterious narrator protested right back: “I didn’t WRITE the story, Jack. I’m just telling it.”

Down at the market, Jack received five beans in exchange for Bessie. Of course, this is a fairy tale, and the beans are magic. Jack tried all the magical words he knew to get them to work, but they just sat in the bowl smiling up at him. Yeah, these beans have faces. Overcome by hunger, Jack determined to eat the beans, but there was that pesky narrator again ordering him to throw the beans out the window and then go to bed. As you can imagine—what with selling his best friend and hunger gnawing at his belly—Jack was a bit testy and complainy and countered, “Aww, but I’m not tired. This story keeps getting worse and worse.”

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In the morning, Jack discovered that an enormous beanstalk had grown up overnight. It was so tall that Jack couldn’t even see the top. The narrator told him to start climbing. At first, Jack balked, then he tried to stall by offering to get his climbing gear, but the narrator had already determined that Jack “had no possessions.” Finally, Jack agreed to go, but only if the narrator changed the beanstalk’s size. In a classic “be careful what you wish for” maneuver, the beanstalk suddenly began to grow bigger. “Seriously?” Jack said.

Jack was actually enjoying his climb when he spied Cinderella’s castle with Cindy waving from her balcony. Her voice rang across the distance, inviting Jack to a ball that very night. The narrator was not happy with this delay and urged Jack on. Finally, he reached the top, where “he found himself in front of a humongous house.” Jack pegged it right away as a giant’s abode, but he went inside anyway. As he was looking around at all the mammoth furnishings, he heard the giant’s voice: “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman.”

Heck, Jack knew about poetry and recognized immediately that “that doesn’t even rhyme” and offered an alternative: “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I can see the giant’s bum.” This bit of wordplay just enraged the giant—that, plus his fear that Jack was trying to steal all his best stuff. The giant grabbed Jack and was about to…well, listen for yourself: “Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” Pretty chilling stuff, but even though Jack was facing imminent danger, he was pretty positive about the giant’s new rhyme.

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

That made the giant happy, and Jack thought this moment of camaraderie was the perfect time to let slip to the giant that “there’s a good chance that you’re going to die at the end of this story.” The giant put on a frowny face, and his eyes began to tear up. It seemed the giant didn’t want to die, so he suddenly decided to become a vegan. Listening to this emotional roller coaster, the narrator started to get steamed because he was losing control of the story. “ENOUGH!!!” he shouted.

“GIANT!” he hollered and ordered him to chase Jack down the beanstalk. “JACK!” he yelled and told him to chop down the beanstalk. All this shouting only served to bond Jack and the Giant in an oversized friendship. They commiserated together and planned to make a taco salad from one of the giant’s recipes. After that they went to Cinderella’s party, where they told everyone about their adventure. And who’s complaining now? You got this—the narrator!

P.S. And, of course, they all lived happily ever after by splitting the giant’s fortune and opening a restaurant named Where Have You Bean? for a whole host of fairy tale customers!

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In Josh Funk’s newest romp, Jack takes matters into his own hands as he revamps his famous story into one that turns out “happily ever after” for all the characters. Along the way readers will laugh at Jack’s feisty repartee with the unseen narrator as he’s swept up in a larger-than-life scenario and uses his wits—and wit—to finally tell his own story in his own way. Young readers will appreciate Jack’s independent spunk, and adults will respond to his sweet nature.

Edwardian Taylor’s noodle-limbed, big-eyed Jack knows how to tug at readers’ heartstrings. Soulfully saying good-bye to Bessie, gazing at his nearly empty plate in anguish, and warily approaching the giant’s castle, Jack will quickly have readers empathizing with his plight and cheering him on as he outwits the gigantic red-bearded giant and turns him into a friend and business partner. And while the giant may be big, kids will soon see that he’s really a softy. Children will love all the big and small details on every page, from the leafy beanstalk to cute Cindy-rella to the gold-coin laying goose. And if you’ve never seen a purple cow…here’s your chance. The final spread of a packed Where Have You Bean? restaurant gives kids an opportunity to show their knowledge of fairy-tale characters.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk makes for a spirited and funny read aloud, and would be super performed by a group in classrooms or by clubs, or even by friends or siblings.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2017 | ISBN 978-1542045650

Enter the world of Josh Funk and discover more about him and his books as well as plenty of book-related activities on his website!

Learn more about Edwardian Taylor and view a portfolio of his artwork on his website!

Read a New Book Month Activity

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This is Not a Yardstick! Yardstick Craft

 

Need to measure something—like the height of your garden, the amount of rain or snow that fell, or even the number of books you have? You can do it in style with your very own This is Not a Yardstick! yardstick craft.

Supplies

  • 50-inch wooden stake, available at craft stores
  • Small wooden leaves, 45 – 50, available at craft stores 

OR

  • Light green and dark green foam sheets 
  • Green paint, light and dark
  • Black marker
  • Paint brush
  • Strong glue
  • Flower pot
  • Oasis or clay
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

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Directions

  1. Paint the wooden stake with the green paint, let dry
  2. With the ruler mark the stake in 1-inch increments along the edge of the stake

How to Make the Leaves

  1. If using wooden leaves, paint half light green and half dark green
  2. If using foam, cut 1 3/4-inch tear-drop shaped leaves (half from light green foam, half from dark green foam), 45 – 50 or as needed
  3. Cut two larger leaves, one from each color to decorate the top of the stake
  4. Draw a line down the center of each leaf’
  5. Write the number of the inch marked on each leaf, from 1 to 45 or higher with the black marker, alternating colors

How to Attach the Leaves

  1. Glue the leaves to the stake, attaching the odd-numbered inch leaves to the left side of the stake and the even-numbered leaves to the right side of the stake.
  2. Attach half of the leaf to the stake, letting the tip stick out from the side
  3. Glue the two larger leaves to the top of the stake

How to Store Your Yardstick

  1. Put the oasis or clay in the flower pot
  2. Stick the stake into the flower pot to keep it handy

Picture Book Review

July 10 – It’s National Grilling Month

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About the Holiday

With its long, warm days, summer is the perfect time to cook outdoors. Grilling up some delectable treats like burgers, hot dogs, steak, ribs, shrimp, and corn on the cob will satisfy a family or a crowd! And of course you can never go wrong by adding a few smoky spices to the recipe!

Jack and the Giant Barbecue

Written by Eric A. Kimmel | Illustrated by John Manders

 

“Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack who loved barbecue.” He loved it so much, in fact, that he would saddle up his pony and ride across the mountains of West Texas for spicy ribs or sausage. He couldn’t enjoy barbecue at home because his mother wept every time she smelled that distinctive smoky aroma. It reminded her of Jack’s daddy, and she said, “I can’t eat barbecue with my whole plate full of tears.”

Jack wanted to know the whole story, so his mother told him. Jack’s daddy had been the most famous barbecue chef in West Texas until a giant stole his cookbook and took all of his secret recipes with it. Jack’s daddy was so heartbroken that “he just keeled over and died.” After that, Jack’s mother could never eat barbecue again. At that moment, Jack promised to track down that giant and retrieve his daddy’s recipe book.

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Image copyright John Manders, 2012. Courtesy of johnmanders.com.

Taking his faithful pony, Jack rode out to Mount Pecos, which he knew could take him into the sky where the giants lived. He climbed up, up, up into the clouds. From there he walked until “he began smelling something smoky and sweet, with just the right hint of vinegar and spices. Barbecue!” Jack followed his nose to an old, broken-down shack as big as a football field and as tall as a ten-story building.” 

Inside, Jack found a greasy mess and a floor strewn with rib bones the size of skis. The place seemed deserted, except for the jukebox in the corner. The jukebox had grievances of her own against the giant, who had broken some pretty big promises. She told Jack just where he could find his daddy’s recipe book—hidden among her 45s “between Your Cheatin’ Heart and Pancho and Lefty.’’’ Jack climbed inside and was making his way to slot D-9 when he heard the giant come home.

The minute the giant stomped inside, he sniffed the air and bellowed, “Fee-fi-fo-fum! / A Texas boy this way has come. / I’ll dip him in salsa and pico de gallo, / and swallow him down for Cinco de Mayo.” The jukebox quickly covered for Jack, and the giant turned his attention to the “two sides of beef, ten racks of ribs, and fifty feet of sausage” in the smoker. After that little snack, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Jack was having trouble reaching the book inside the enormous jukebox, and time was wasting. Jack should not still be there when the giant woke up, the jukebox warned. With the jukebox directing, Jack tipped her over onto some rib bones, and since the floor was slick with grease, it was no problem to simply slide her out the door. Just as they got outside, though, the giant awoke wanting more barbecue—which meant he needed his recipe book. He noticed the empty space where the jukebox had been and the tracks leading out. The giant jumped in his pickup truck and “went tearing across the clouds after Jack.”

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Jack was too quick for him, though. He slipped through the clouds, down Mount Pecos, and all the way home. The giant wasn’t quite as lucky. He was going too fast to stop and mowed down every mountain in his way. “Since then West Texas has been flat as a skillet all the way to New Mexico.” And what happened to Jack and his ma? Well, with the recipe book back where it belonged, Jack opened his own restaurant. The jukebox provides just the right atmosphere. Ma works there and so does the giant—after all, where else can he get the barbecue he loves?

Eric A. Kimmel’s spicy tall tale is a little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll and whole lotta fun. Kids who love barbecue, a wild adventure, and the twang of western humor will gobble up this re-imagined Jack and the Beanstalk story. The jilted jukebox makes for a colorful sidekick, and Kimmel’s clever escape ploy will delight kids.

John Manders has conjured up one hairy scary giant with a taste for barbecue and a nose for interlopers, and his greasy spoon, with its wagon wheel lighting fixtures and bull’s horn décor, would feel right at home in Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible line-up. The antique jukebox is ingeniously conceived, with an expressive eye created by the row of vinyl 45s. Manders’ giant imagination ramps up the humor in this smokin’ hot story.

Ages 6 – 8

Two Lions, 2012 | ISBN 978-0761461289

If you’d like to learn more about Eric A. Kimmel and his books as well as hear him read some of his books aloud, visit his website!

You can step right inside John Manders’ studio and take a look around by visiting his website!

National Grilling Month Activity

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Backyard Cooking Fun Coloring Page

 

While you’re waiting for that tasty barbecue to grill up tangy and delicious, gather your pencils, crayons, or markers and enjoy this printable Backyard Cooking Fun Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

April 30 – National Honesty Day

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About the Holiday

National Honesty Day encourages honesty and straightforward communication in politics, relationships, consumer relations and historical education. Some may find it interesting, appropriate, or (fill in your own adjective) that the holiday was established in 1990 by former press secretary of Maryland M. Hirsh Goldberg while writing a book about the frauds, scams, schemes and other such nonsense that have “changed the course of history and affect our daily lives.” To honor the day, it is suggested that people ask the hard questions—and also offer what can sometimes be the hard truth. Only then can we clear the air and build better relationships. As the wolf in today’s book discovers, honesty really is the best policy.

Tell the Truth, B. B. Wolf

Written by Judy Sierra | Illustrated by J. Otto Seibold

 

The Villain Villa Senior Center is getting a makeover. The Big Bad Wolf and his equally evil friends are doing the repairs. Suddenly, the air hums with the tune “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.” “‘Quiet!’” the wolf shouts, “‘I have to answer my phone.’” It turns out that Miss Wonderly at the library wants B. B. to come in and tell the story of how he met the Three Little Pigs. He’s excited to take part, but one thing worries him: He wasn’t a hero in the story.

Rumpelstiltskin tells B. B. Wolf to spin the story; the crocodile advises a happy ending. B. B. Wolf changes into his best clothing and, vowing to try these suggestions, hurries over to the library. Ensconced in a cozy chair, B. B. begins with a song: “Hard luck always follows me, and Trouble is my middle name.” But this ploy doesn’t fly with one little attendee (a pig with the number 1 on his hat) who reminds B. B. that his middle name is B-A-D.

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Image copyright J. Otto Seibold, text copyright Judy Sierra. Courtesy of penguinrandomhouse.com

Undeterred, B. B. Wolf launches into his story after amending his song to include that he is always blamed for any crime that occurs. It seems that one day B. B. Wolf was out innocently picking dandelions. While blowing on the puff to make a wish, he inadvertently blew down the straw house of a little piggie. The poor wolf was on the run as the piggie chased him. This version of events brings an oinkburst from the back of the room: “‘Tell the truth, B. B. Wolf!’”

As he ran, B. B. Wolf continues, he suddenly smelled smoke and dashed over to help. He found a little piggie playing with matches next to a pile of sticks that were on fire! He only blew on the sticks to put out the fire. From his place on a shelf Pinocchio thinks he sees the wolf’s snout growing bigger. Charged by this second piggie, B. B. Wolf says, he kept running until he collapsed at the door of a little brick house. Tired and thirsty the wolf begged to be let in. But the mean porker merely said, “‘Climb up on the roof and slide down my chinny-chin-chimney.’”

That ridiculous fib causes an uproar in the children’s section. “‘No one is falling for your story,’ cracked Humpty Dumpty.” And the Gingerbread Boy added, “‘It’s a cooked-up, half-baked tale.’” “Tell the truth, B. B. Wolf,” orders Pig 3. Deflated, B. B. Wolf lets out “a dismal huff and a small, sad puff.” He admits that he hasn’t told the truth because the truth is so embarrassing. But “‘what’s important is that I’ve changed. Really I have,’” he says. The three pigs demand that he apologize, and B. B. stutters over the words. Try as he might, B. B. cannot say it. But he can sing it!

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Image copyright J. Otto Seibold, text copyright Judy Sierra. Courtesy of penguinrandomhouse.com

Down on his knees, he sings a heartfelt and perfectly rhyming apology. The Three Little Pigs take pity on their former enemy and give him a second chance. “‘But your middle name is still Bad,’” the third pig reminds him. Taking advantage of where he is, B. B. grabs a dictionary from the shelf and flips through the B words. He finds many to his liking, and before he leaves the library with an armful of books, he’s changed his name and even added two Bs! “‘From this day forward, I am the one and only Big Bodacious Benevolent Bookish Wolf,’” B. B. B. B. Wolf announces on his way out the door.

The wolf was even better than his word. Once home he straightaway began designing a big, beautiful house for his new friends, and when it came time to build it, all the villains helped. The Three Little Pigs were so thrilled with their “piggyback mansion” that they composed a song to thank B. B. B. B. Wolf: “The wolf was mean and vicious. / He thought piggies were delicious. / Then he lied and told a story / that was wrong and he was sorry. / Now he’s changed. He’s not pretending. / That’s a very happy ending!”

Judy Sierra writes a hilarious and enchanting story of personal reinvention which reveals that while people may not be able to escape their past, they can make up for it. Through fast-paced, clever dialogue and characters with a compelling stake in the action, Sierra’s howler of a story will have kids wondering what excuse the wolf will devise next. The circular plot line ties up the beginning and ending neatly and is a satisfying resolution to this favorite fairy tale in fractured form.

J. Otto Seibold has drawn the Big Bad Wolf as he has never been seen before. Sporting a kitschy plaid suit and green top hat, B. B. Wolf grows more and more disheveled as his falsehoods fall flat. The wolf’s tall tales are vividly illustrated to comic effect, bridging the wolf’s attempt to refurbish his reputation and the absurdity of his invention. Kids will love to point out the many storybook characters that populate the pages and will giggle throughout at the wolf’s misadventures.

Ages 3 – 8

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010 | ISBN 978-0375856204

Learn more about Judy Sierra and her books and meet a very literary pup on her website!

National Honesty Day Activity

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Dot-to-Dot Coloring Pages

 

After the Big Bad Wolf admitted the truth, he and the Three Little Pigs made up! Here are two printable dot-to-dot coloring pages that bring them together for fun!

Picture Book Review

October 10 – World Porridge Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday celebrates the history and origins of porridge, a food enjoyed around the world and Scotland’s national dish. Since 1996 the Scottish Highland Village of Carrbridge has hosted the World Porridge Making Championship, where culinary types from around the globe compete for the Golden Spurtle trophy and the honor of being named “World Porridge Making Champion.” In 2009 the championship event joined with Mary’s Meals, a charity based in Argyll Scotland that provides nutritional aid to children in developing countries. To celebrate today, why not mix up a batch of warm, delicious porridge. However you make it, a bowlful is just right!

Goldilocks and Just One Bear

By Leigh Hodgkinson

 

“Once upon a time there was this bear. One minute, he was strolling in the woods, all happy-go-lucky….The next minute, he didn’t have a crumb-of-a-clue where he was.” Somehow he, along with his tightly gripped spoon, had found his way to the big city. The bear didn’t like it: the lights were too bright, the streets were too noisy, and the bear’s legs had become too wobbly. He looked around at the “Wolf’s Clothing Boutique,” the “Three Little Piggies’ Bank, the “Gingerbread” stand, the “Glass Slippers” shoe store, and “The Ugly Sisters’ Beauty Parlor and decided to get away from it all. He took the elevator to the top floor of Snooty Towers, where he found a quiet place for a rest.

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Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

After “all that whooshy traveling,” the bear found that he was a mite hungry—hungry for porridge. He grabbed the first bowl he saw. “THIS porridge is too soggy,” he decided, slurping the water from the fish bowl. On the floor he found another bowl. “THIS porridge is too crunchy,” he said, spooning up a few cat nibbles. Next he tried the contents of a plate. “THIS porridge is a bit on the DRY side, but it’s better than nothing,” reasoned the bear.

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Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

Nice and full, the bear went in search of a place to rest. He sat on something too “ouchy,” something too “noisy,” and something that exploded in a million Styrofoam beads but was “just right.” The short respite was nice, but not enough for such a tired bear. He sought out a place to take a proper nap. The bathtub was “too frothy”; the fancy bed was “too pink”; but the bed with the leaf-print comforter was “just right.”

While he slept the bear dreamed of his cozy house in the woods until he was unceremoniously wakened by a very, very loud “‘SOMEBODY has been eating from my fishbowl!’”; a very loud “‘Somebody has been eating my dear little Pumpkin’s kitty nibbles!’”; and a not-as-loud, but just-as-disturbing “‘And somebody has been eating my toast. And they’ve eaten it all up!’”

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Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

The bear hid under the covers as the “daddy person” discovered his squished cactus, the “mommy person” comforted the cat, and the “little person” joyfully tossed Styrofoam peanuts in the air. It was only a matter of time before the daddy person laid eyes on the splashed about tub, the mommy person found her messy bed, and the little person pointed out the bear sleeping in her bed right that minute.

The bear took a look at the mommy person and thought she looked “slightly familiar.” At the same time the mommy person thought that three strikes in one house rang a bell. “‘Baby Bear?’” the mommy said. “‘Goldilocks?’” the bear gasped. Really, the reunion had been too long in coming! Goldilocks cooked up a big batch of porridge and the bear gobbled it down, because…well…you know! While the bear was glad to see that Goldilocks was “living so happily ever after,” he was just as glad to return home to the woods.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-goldilocks-and-just-one-bear-bed

Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

Leigh Hodgkinson’s tale of Little Bear all grown up is a hilarious turn-about-is-fair-play take on the original Goldilocks story. The bear, out of his depth in the big city, makes a sweet and sympathetic character even as kids laugh at his misguided experiments in Goldilocks’ penthouse apartment. Hodgkinson’s story is full of wonderful, expressive language set off in animated type that enhances the look of the stylish pages.

Hodgkinson’s vibrant and airy mixed-media illustrations are visually stimulating—alive with the glitz and glamour of the city—and underscore the woodsy bear’s apprehension in his new surroundings. The signs and billboards along the busy thoroughfare allow Hodgkinson to include nods towards other favorite fairy tales, and the prints hanging on the wall of the Snooty Towers apartment hint at the identification of its owner.

Goldilocks and Just One Bear is a fun and funny fractured fairy tale, and one that kids will ask to have read over and over.

Ages 3 – 8

Nosy Crow Books, 2012 | ISBN 978-0763661724

Discover more about Leigh Hodgkinson and her books on her website Wonky Button!

World Porridge Day Activity

bear-maze

It’s Just Right! Maze

 

Sometimes a bear—or a person—will go to any lengths for a bowl of porridge. Can you find your way through this printable bear-shaped It’s Just Right Maze?

Picture Book Review

October 5 – World Teachers Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-red-writing-cover

About the Holiday

Teachers are amazing! They dedicate their lives to connecting students to the wider world and opening doors to opportunities for a bright future. Today’s holiday celebrates all the work, thought, and planning that teachers put into every day’s lessons as well as the care and concern they have for every one of their students. Wherever you are, thank your teacher or teachers for everything they do to help you write your own story and ultimately your own ticket—like the sharp heroine of today’s book!

Little Red Writing

Written by Joan Holub | Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

 

One day in pencil school Ms. 2, the teacher, tells her class that they are going to write a story. Her students are excited, and each one has an idea of what to write. The birthday pencil, wearing a bright pink cone-shaped hat, yells “‘Yippee! I want to write a happy story!’” The state pencil, sporting a map of Pencilvania on its eraser end, wants to tell a nonfiction tale about its state, and the basketball pencil with a small replica basketball topper imagines writing a sports story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-red-writing-classroom

Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Joan Holub, courtesy of chroniclebooks.com

Little Red, looking sharp in her shiny scarlet coat of paint chooses to “write a story about bravery because red is the color of courage. But what would a brave pencil do?” she wonders. She decides to go in search of unusual characters that will give her a chance to fight evil and save the day. Ms. 2 gives “Little Red a basket of 15 red words to use in case she ran into trouble” and reminds her that “it’s ok to wander a little, but stick to your basic story path so you don’t get lost.”

Little Red takes her basket full of nouns and sets off. In her notebook she begins to describe her journey. “As she walked along…” she writes and then stops. “Walking is boring,” she decides. To discover some action she heads for the gym, where other pencils are twisting, throwing, catching, swinging, and jumping. Little Red bounces and boogies and cartwheels “right off the page into a deep, dark, descriptive forest.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-red-writing-descriptive-forest

Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Joan Holub, courtesy of chroniclebooks.com

The adjectives lay thick on the gnarled, flowery, shadowy path. The towering trees smell piney and their verdant, russet leaves hide squirrelly creatures. The forest is beautiful, but suddenly Little Red feels “bogged down, hindered, lost!” Remembering her basket, she reaches in and pulls out scissors. They help her “cut through all this description and stick to the story path.” Back on the straight and narrower, Little Red encounters a bottle of “conjunction glue” with just the right kinds of words to help her. She gives the bottle a squeeze, but now finds that her sentences go on and on without saying anything important. All seems lost until “Suddenly” arrives.

“Suddenly,” she hears a throaty roar that begins to chase her. Little Red runs without stopping, throwing out any word she can grab from her basket until she can escape to the next page. Here, however, she discovers a “long, tangly tail” and decides to investigate. The tail winds all along the school corridors, passing the cafeteria, the music room, the art room, and the auditorium. It even meanders by the math room and the after school clubs room into the principal’s office.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-red-writing-wolf-3000-chases-little-red

Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Joan Holub, courtesy of chroniclebooks.com

Little Red knocks on the door. Inside, Principal Granny, her long tail tangled behind her, roars her greetings. Little Red is suspicious, but she continues to explain the growly voice she heard. In fact, she says, “It sounded kind of like yours.” “The betterrr to be hearrrd on the school interrrcom,” the principal states. Little Red also reports the tangly tail, to which the principal answers, “the betterrr to get charrrged up for my school duties when my batteries are rrrunning low. All at once Red notices the principal’s big sharp teeth. “The betterrr to chomp little pencils like you and grrrind them up!”

With that Little Red realizes that this isn’t Principal Granny but the “Wolf 3000: the grumpiest, growliest, grindingest pencil sharpener ever made!” The Wolf 3000 begins to chase Little Red around the office, and just when there seems no hope, in walks Mr. Woodcutter, the janitor—who immediately faints. There is only one thing left to do. Little Red grabs her last word and hurls it at the Wolf 3000. “KABLOOEY” goes the dynamite, reducing the Wolf 3000 to a pile of parts.

Principal Granny emerges from the rubble shortened but okay and declares Little Red a hero. Little Red rushes back to her classroom in time to hear the other pencils’ stories and to share her own brave adventure.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-red-writing-dynamite

Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Joan Holub, courtesy of chroniclebooks.com

Joan Holub’s delightfully clever tribute to writing draws on the Little Red Riding Hood story to get kids excited about using the various parts of speech that make writing so fun and reading so enjoyable. The metaphorical “story path” that Little Red traverses brings her into contact with characters that provide immediate understanding of the concepts. When Little Red squeezes the bottle of conjunction glue, out squirt the words so, but, and, although, yet, and or, which are incorporated into the illustrations on the page. Readers’ familiarity with the original fairy tale increases suspense in this fractured version. The Wolf 3000 electric pencil sharpener makes a perfect nemesis, and the fainting janitor leaves Little Red to sharpen her wits and defeat the beast. Dynamite—at least the word itself—truly is mightier than the sword.

Holub’s nibble talent with puns and wordplay elevates Little Red Writing from simply a book about the subject of grammar and writing to a captivating story kids will love to hear again and again.

Grammar has never looked as enticing as in Melissa Sweet’s vivacious illustrations of adorable Little Red on the story path to prove her bravery. Sweet’s pages, combining pencil drawings, watercolor, and collage, burst with animated typography, scraps of vivid red nouns, and expressive characters in a detailed and fully realized pencil school. Little Red’s final battle with the Wolf 3000 gives full range to Sweet’s rousing visual humor in a highly satisfying climax to the story.

For kids who love reading, writing, and a really good story, Little Red Writing would be a welcome addition to their bookshelves. Teachers will find the story enhances any unit on writing, grammar, and literature.

Ages 5 – 9

Chronicle Books, 2013 | ISBN 978-1452152097

You will find children’s books for all ages as well as fun videos, activities, and teachers’ resources on Joan Holub‘s website!

Discover books, things to make, and lots of fun on Melissa Sweet‘s website!

World Teachers Day Activity

CPB - Pencil Maze

Pencil It In Maze

 

Writing a story is like completing a maze – you must stay on the right path from the beginning to the end to write a satisfying tale. Find your way through intricacies of this printable Pencil It In Maze

Picture Book Review

 

 

September 20 – Get Ready Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established in 2006 by the American Public Health Association to encourage individuals, families, schools, businesses, and others to be prepared for any type of emergency. Having the right supplies on hand and proper training help to avert a larger crisis and can be a source of comfort and confidence. Take some time today to check your stock piles and preparedness plans and, if needed, enroll in a class like the heroes of today’s story!

The Three Ninja Pigs

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz | Illustrated by Dan Santat

 

The Big Bad Wolf has never encountered Three Little Pigs like these! When he comes into town huffing and puffing and blowing homes down, the sibling trio (two brothers and a sister) in this fractured fairy take matters into their own trotters and vow: “‘We’ve got to get rid of that bully!’” / “‘We’re tired of letting him rule.’” / “‘We must put an end / To this terrible trend.’” / “‘Let’s train at that new Ninja school.’” At the dojo, Pig One begins to learn aikido, but with a “straw-house” attitude, he drops out after only two weeks.

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Image copyright Dan Santat, courtesy of coreyrosenschwartz.com

Pig Two has a little more “stick”-to-itiveness with his Jujitsu training, and “The teacher said, ‘Excellent progress. / But Pig-san, you must study more.’ / Pig Two said, ‘No way. / Sayonara, Sensei! / I’m ready to settle a score.’” Thankfully, Pig Three has the steadfastness of a brick in her karate lessons and masters each move. “She balanced and blocked like an expert, / and practiced her lessons nonstop. / By the time she was through, / she could break boards in two / by performing a perfect pork chop!’” When she earns her black belt, she’s ready to rumble.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-ninja-pigs-retreat

Image copyright Dan Santat, courtesy of coreyrosenschwartz.com

When the wolf comes huffing and puffing to the straw house of Pig One, this little piggie can talk big but with a swing and a miss, he suddenly wishes he were more prepared. For Pig Two, things go…well…you know…. and the wolf chases the two brothers to their sister’s house. Here Pig Three stands waiting “…outside in her gi. / ‘I’m a certified weapon, / so watch where you’re steppin’. / You don’t want to start up with me!’” While she demonstrates her kicks and flips, the wolf stands strong, but when he witnesses her mighty ability to split bricks with one chop he scrams.

How do these intrepid pigs top that success? The brothers learn their lesson and—after going back to school—their ninja moves. After graduating these “Three pigs full of mojo / then ran their own dojo, / and life was forever wolf-free.’”  

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-three-ninja-pigs-wolf

Image copyright Dan Santat, courtesy of coreyrosenschwartz.com

Corey Rosen Schwartz has created a rowdy, rambunctious triple-pig threat in this uproarious rendering of the three little pigs tale. With perfect rhythmic limericks that are a joy to read aloud, Schwartz cleverly uses puns, funny dialogue, and one feisty piglet to chop the wolf down to size.

Dan Santat’s illustrations are full of angst, action, and attitude. Legs kick, hands chop, boards and bamboo fly as the three pigs and their nemesis wolf nearly leap from the page in their battles.

Ages 4 – 8

G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2012 | ISBN978-0399255144

Discover more about Corey Rosen Schwartz and her books plus fun activities and detailed teachers’ guides on her website!

Check out Dan Santat‘s site to learn about his books, view his artwork, and more!

While I take a few personal days over the next couple of weeks, I am republishing earlier posts updated with links, internal art, and book trailers.

Watch this kickin’ The Three Ninja Pigs book trailer!

Get Ready Day Activity

CPB - Pig Day pigs

Roly-Poly Pig and Piglets

 

Get ready to have fun making this cute and easy craft! Ham it up with your own pig and piglets who can keep you company on your desk, near your bed or anywhere it’s fun to play!

Supplies

  • 2 ½-inch wooden spoon, available from craft stores
  • 1-inch wooden spool, available from craft stores
  • Pink yarn, I used a wide-strand yarn
  • Pink fleece or felt
  • Pink craft paint
  • Pink 5/8-inch or 1-inch flat button with two holes
  • Pink 3/8-inch flat button with two holes
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black marker

CPB - Pig Day with spools (2)

Directions

  1. Cut triangular ears for the pigs – cut larger triangles for the big pig and smaller triangles for the babies. Leave a tab on the bottom of the ears to secure them with the yarn.
  2. Paint the spool with the pink paint
  3. Let spool dry
  4. When the spool is dry, glue the ears to the spool, letting the ears stick up over the rim of the spool.
  5. Wrap yarn in straight layers around spool until the body of the pig is a little bigger than the end of the spool, which will be the face
  6. Cut yarn off skein and glue the end to the body
  7. To make the nose, glue the button over the hole in the middle of the spool
  8. Mark the eyes and mouth with a marker
  9. To make the tail for the large pig, cut a 4-inch long piece of yarn. Tie a triple knot in the yarn (or a knot big enough to fill the hole in the spool). Then tie a single knot below the first knot. Insert the large knot into the spool’s hole at the back of the pig. Trim the yarn in front of the second knot as needed.
  10. To make the tail for the piglets, tie a single knot in the yarn and another single know below the first. Insert one of the single knots into the hole. Trim yarn as needed.

Picture Book Review