April 23 – World Book Day and World Book Night

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About the Holidays

Sponsored by UNESCO, World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day and International Day of the Book, encourages families and individuals to rediscover the joys of reading and promotes the availability of a wide range of books to all and in all languages. April 23 was chosen to celebrate books in honor of William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who all died on this date. The holiday offers an opportunity to highlight the power of books and to promote the United Nations’ vision of societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, and open and participatory for all citizens. Each year publishers, booksellers, and libraries choose a World Book Capitol for a one-year period to acknowledge the city’s commitment to promoting books and fostering reading. The World Book Capitol for 2021 is Tbilisi, Georgia. This year’s theme is “Share a Story.” For more information on World Book Day and to find a communication toolkit as well as other resources, visit the UNESCO website and The World Book Day website.

First established in the United Kingdom and Ireland but now a global event, World Book Night is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. While World Book Day focuses on promoting reading for and with children, World Book Night encourages adults to set aside time to read for pleasure as well. Reading for pleasure can have a enormous impact on one’s life, from learning new information to feeling more connected to the world to just relaxing and taking a healthy break from daily responsibilities. World Book Night was also conceived as a way to get more books into more hands, and as such is actively involved in giving away designated books to care homes, youth centers, colleges, prisons, public libraries, mental health groups and other charity partners who match books with new readers to reach those who may not have access to or the resources to buy books. To learn more about this initiative, visit the World Book Night website.

You can get involved too! Why not start today? With so many amazing books to discover, reading daily is a luxury worth indulging. For kids, there may be no cozier routine than snuggling up next to mom or dad or cuddling under the covers and getting lost in a wonderful story before falling asleep. And adults? You never really lose that comforting feeling of ending the day with a good book.

Thanks go to Lerner Books for sharing a copy of Where is the Dragon? for review consideration, all opinions on the book are my own.

Where is the Dragon?

By Leo Timmers

 

The king was having nightmares about a dragon he was sure was on the prowl, so he sent “his knights: One, Two and Three. ‘Save the realm! But mainly me,'” he ordered. The knights bravely went out into the dark forest armed only with…well…their armor and a candle, but they had a problem. It turned out that none of them had every seen a dragon before. But they each had assurances from the king as to how a dragon behaved and what it looked like. Knight Two knew (from the king) that forest animals ran away from a dragon. 

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Copyright Leo Timmers, 2021, courtesy of Gecko Press/Lerner Books.

Just as they came upon a suspicious-looking shape cloaked in the darkness, “Knight One [said], ‘Well, the king confided / their spikes are thick and double-sided.'” The mound in front of them appeared to have a head, a well-spiked body, and a pointy tale. Without trepidation, however, the smallest knight approached and held up his candle to find… a wagon overflowing with carrots and long-eared rabbits taking a snooze.

The three moved on, out of the forest and into an area of lush undergrowth. As they came to a truly frightening silhouette that looked ready to gobble them up, Knight Two alerted his friends that the king had warned him about a dragon’s teeth. While Knight One and Knight Two were fumbling in the dark on their way to slay this dragon, Knight Three stepped forward. “‘Ha ha, ho ho,'” he laughed. Their “dragon” wasn’t scary at all. 

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Copyright Leo Timmers, 2021, courtesy of Gecko Press/Lerner Books.

In a moment, the knights had gotten themselves into an awful fix when they began crossing a fallen tree that led right to a dragon’s nest. How did they know this was a real dragon? Knight One told them, “‘Well, the king declared / their necks are long, their nostrils flared.'” And, indeed, in front of them awaited the shadow of just such a beast. But as Knight Two took another bumbling trip, the intrepid Knight Three discovered in his dwindling candle’s light a rather peaceful, sleepy scene.

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Copyright Leo Timmers, 2021, courtesy of Gecko Press/Lerner Books.

Farther on another scare in the deep, dark night turned out to be just another snore. By this time the candle was burning low when they happened upon a rocky mound. There were no spikes, no sharp teeth, no neck or even head, and there was absolutely none of that “‘… scalding sizzling smelly breath'” the king had told them about. Knight Two had had enough. “‘Dragons? No such thing,'” he said. “‘Let’s all go home and tell the king.'” But just to make sure, Knight Three held up his sputtering candle. There was nothing there to frighten him, and he decided “‘the dragon’s just in the king’s head.'” But did he really get a good look?

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Copyright Leo Timmers, 2021, courtesy of Gecko Press/Lerner Books.

Leo Timmers puts a medieval spin on “things that go bump in the night” with his laugh-out-loud tale of three knights on a mission to rid the kingdom of a dragon that’s vexing the king. As they set out on a dark, but starry night, the knights have only the descriptions the king has provided to guide them. Accompanying each two-page spread in which the knights encounter ominous silhouettes are Timmers’ short and cunning rhyming couplets that lead the knights – and readers – to conclude that indeed a dragon lies ahead. 

But in the glow of the candle (just as when the bedroom light flips on) the dragon disappears, and in its place is a harmless – and hilarious – bedtime scene. Meanwhile, as Knight Three is uncovering the sleepers of the realm on the righthand page, on the left page bumbling Knight Two is engaged in slapstick trips, falls, and mishaps all to the detriment of Knight One. These increasingly  will keep kids laughing and waiting to see what happens next. Timmons’ pitch-perfect ending will enchant kids and anyone just looking for a good night’s sleep. 

Part Monty Python, part bedtime story, and entirely ingenious, Where is the Dragon? will become a quick favorite for fun, madcap and imagination-filled daytime or nighttime story times at home, in the classroom, and for public library collections.

Ages 4 – 7

Gecko Press / Lerner Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1776573110

To learn more about Leo Timmers, his books, and his art, visit his website.

World Book Day and World Book Night Activity

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I’ve Got the Reading Bug! Collection

 

When you buy a new book, you need new book bling to go with it! Here’s a printable book plate and bookmark, plus a want-to-read list to help you choose your next new book to buy! 

I’ve Got the Reading Bug! Books to Read List | I’ve Got the Reading Bug Bookmark | I’ve Got the Reading Bug Bookplate

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You can find Where is the Dragon? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | Indiebound

Picture Book Review

November 28 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

There’s still time this week to celebrate one of the best months of the year—Picture Book Month! If you’re in shopping mode, be sure to put plenty of picture books on your list for the kids in your life. You know what they say—and it’s really true: A book is a gift you can open again and again!

The Visitor

By Antje Damm

 

Elise sat alone in her gray house day after day and night after night because she was too afraid—of everything—to go out. To spend her time and because she liked a neat house, she cleaned it every day. Sometimes she opened a window to air it out. “Then one day something unbelievable happened.” A blue paper airplane came zipping in through the window.

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

She looked at it lying on the floor in front of her and decided it did not belong in her tidy house, so “she scooped it into the fire.” But as Elise tried to sleep that night, the plane flew here, there, and everywhere circling through her house—or did it? “She was too scared to sleep.” The next day, someone came to the door. Elise didn’t know who it could be and was not about to open the door, but the knocking continued.

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Finally, a bit perturbed, Elisa opened the door and stared at the boy standing there. “‘I’m here for my plane,’” he said. Then he urgently needed to use the bathroom. Elise was surprised to hear herself telling the boy he’d find the bathroom upstairs. As he came back downstairs, he spied a portrait on the wall and asked Elise who it was. She told him that it was her on the day of a special dance. “‘I wore my prettiest dress,’” she said. “‘Cool!’ said the boy and he looked around some more.”

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

He found a bookcase loaded with books and asked Elise to read him one. It had been “a long time since Elise had read to anyone,” but the boy was attentive and wanted to hear all the stories in the book. After that he wanted to play hide-and-seek. When the game was finished, the boy was hungry, so Elise gave him a slice of buttered bread. Then she told him it was probably time for him to go home. Elise found that she felt sad.

Before he left, the boy asked Elise what her name was and told her his. Emil said goodbye to Elise and told her he’d had fun. “‘Bye for now, Emil,’ she said.” That night Elise got out some blue paper and began folding. It took her many tries, and crumbled paper began to pile up at her feet. But at last she did it just right, and she smiled at the new paper airplane on her table.

The Visitor was translated from German by Sally-Ann Spencer.

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Antje Damm’s story, played out in stunning photographed 3D dioramas, is a triumph of light and color conquering shadow and isolation. As the story opens, Elise sits alone at her table, bowed by fear and the gloominess of her closed-up house. But when the blue airplane flies through the open window, things begin to change. A yellow glow appears outside the panes of glass, brightening the room and beginning to dispel the murk. The next morning the light is a fiery orange, and with the knock at the door, the light seeps underneath, seeming to want to come in. Will Elise let it?

When she opens the door to Emil, dressed in red and yellow, the light spreads across the floor. A red path follows Emil up the stairs while details of Elise’s home assume depth and definition. As Emil notices Elise’s youthful portrait, her apron and cheeks turn pink to mirror her picture. Similar to an Impressionist painting, the walls, floor, and furnishings take on a colorful, stippled beauty as Elise reads to Emil, and readers can see on the shelf above her bed toys left there long ago perhaps by her own children. The vivid intensity of the colors that linger after Emil leaves hints at the rich life Elise may once have had and may reenter thanks to Emil.

With mystical overtones that will delight children, The Visitor is a thought-provoking and uplifting tale of the difference one person can make. The unique mixed-media art makes this a captivating choice for home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Gecko Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1776571888

Picture Book Month Activity

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Follow the Story! Maze

 

Can you find your way through the story from beginning to “The End” in this printable Follow the Story! Maze?

Follow the Story! Maze | Follow the Story! Maze Solution

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You can find The Visitor at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 11 – It’s Positive Attitude Month

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About the Holiday

Things are good! Really, they are! Sometimes it’s kind of hard to think this way, but Positive Attitude Month encourages people to see the bright side of things. A positive attitude can give you more strength and resources to face the hard stuff while letting you enjoy the good stuff. Because there is good stuff out there just waiting for you—really!

Waiting for Goliath

By Antje Damm

 

Bear is patiently waiting at the bus top. He’s been there since the sun came up. It’s no bother because he’s expecting his best friend, Goliath. While Robin builds her nest, Bear tells her about Goliath. He’s stronger than Bear and smart too. “‘He can count to eighteen!’” Bear exclaims proudly. Nighttime comes, but Goliath doesn’t. Bear curls up on the bus stop bench and goes to sleep.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Waiting-for-Goliath-waiting-at-bus-stop

Copyright Antje Damm, 2017, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Another morning dawns and as Bear inspects a spider web and Robin’s babies peep, peep for food, Robin suggests some bad news: “‘Your Goliath isn’t coming.’” Bear is positive his friend will arrive, though. “‘He is definitely coming. You’ll see,’” Bear counters. Later, while Bear has left his post for a minute, the robins announce that someone has come. Bear has a foolproof sniff test to determine if it is Goliath. When the answer comes back that this creature does not smell nice, Bear growls, “‘Then it’s not Goliath.’”

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2017, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Finally, a bus arrives but no one gets off. Bear is starting to get lonely because the robins have all flown south for the winter. To keep himself occupied, Goliath sometimes dances or plays with the snowflakes that begin drifting down. Sometimes he even forgets what he’s there for. As winter settles in, Bear grows more and more tired. He lies down under the bench and goes to sleep. He awakes to warm air and sunshine.

Suddenly, “he hears a faint noise like a hand sliding slowly across paper. Goliath is coming!” A little snail slithers up full of apologies for being so late, but Bear is just happy to see him. He has big plans for the two of them. After so much time spent on the ground, they take to the swing at the park and soar.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Waiting-for-Goliath-dancing-in-snow

Copyright Antje Damm, 2017, courtesy of Gecko Press.

As an avid reader of Samuel Beckett’s work, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the title of Antje Damm’s new book. As in the play Waiting for Godot, readers of Waiting for Goliath wonder “who is the mysterious visitor?” Unlike Vladimir and Estragon, though, Bear does finally meet up with his friend—much to the delight and surprise of little readers.

Some expectations may be set when Bear describes his best friend as stronger than he is, very smart, and nice-smelling; there’s also the matter of his name. Put these all together and most kids may imagine a big, friendly giant of a buddy. On the other hand, time seems a bit wonky. It’s been a year since Bear first took a seat at the bus stop. What could be taking this enormous creature so long to get there? So maybe readers will adjust their guess. Just like Bear, kids are also waiting to discover who is coming.

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During that year, readers are treated to Damm’s very original collage-diorama photographs. With unending patience Bear, whose head, body, and legs seem articulated from separated bits of paper, sits on a red cardboard bench. The paper bus stop sign and trash can are attached to a thin wooden skewer. Cardboard grass springs from the ground, and the tree takes center stage through a year of seasons demonstrated by the robin’s building a nest, raising a family, flying away for the winter, and returning once more. Along the way, colors change, new creatures enter and leave, and Bear changes position. Goliath’s appearance comes as a cheerful surprise, and as the two go off to play together, readers will feel that the wait was definitely worth it.

Waiting for Goliath would be an adorable addition to children’s home libraries for happy story times and times when waiting gets…..long.

Ages 3 – 5

Gecko Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1776571413

Positive Attitude Month Activity

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Smile! It’s a Positively Fun Word Search Puzzle

 

Positivity makes you smile! And this puzzle is full of positivity! Can you find the twenty upbeat words in this printable Smile! It’s a Positively Fun Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review