April 1 – Reading is Funny Day and Interview with Author Lori Degman

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About the Holiday

Nothing’s better than hearing the giggles of a child reading a funny book! And thanks to today’s holiday, that sound can echo through your home all day long. It’s easy to celebrate too. Just grab your favorite funny books or find read alouds by your favorite authors and illustrators and settle in for a day of laughs. Or do a bit of both! And if you’re looking for a new book to add to your shelf, check into ordering today’s book for a fun trip around the country!

Travel Guide for Monsters

Written by Lori Degman | Illustrated by Dave Szalay

 

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to travel with monsters from coast to coast across America, then pack your bags and let’s get started! First stop is San Fransisco, California, where we hop a trolley for sightseeing. But maybe before we go on you should know: “While riding on a cable car, / Your monster should be cautious. / The ups and downs of Frisco hills / can make a monster nauseuous!” After taking in all the grandeur of the Bay Area, head down to Hollywood, where you and your monster can do some stargazing.

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Image copyright Dave Szalay, 2020, text copyright Lori Degman, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Traveling east, you can visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona and  take a tour of Wyoming. While there… “You’re likely to get thirsty when you / hike up in the mountains. / Make sure to warn your monster / that those geysers are not fountains.” South Dakota and Mount Rushmore are next on the itinerary then it’s on to Chicago for some “face time” at the ballpark. In Nashville, Tennessee, your monster will love to kick up his (cowboy booted) heels to some down-home fiddle music.

A swing through the south just isn’t complete without enjoying Florida’s amusement parks or a wild adventure: “Down south among the everglades, / your monster should wear waders / when playing ‘Marco Polo’ / with the crocodiles and gators.” If your monster likes swimming, he’ll love the beaches in Massachusetts—just watch his choice of snacks!

While on the East Coast, don’t forget to visit our nation’s capital in Washington DC and New York State, where your monster can get a bird’s eye view from the crown of Lady Liberty and make a splash at Niagara Falls. And when you finally get back home, you may have just one lingering question about your trip: “How will you explain your monster’s crazy souvenirs?”

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Image copyright Dave Szalay, 2020, text copyright Lori Degman, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Clever and funny, Lori Degman’s rhymed verses follow a high-interest itinerary across the country and will delight kids, who will very much wish they could join in the ultra-fun, little-bit-risky, and larger-than-life activities in each of the landmarks visited. These snapshots of America take in transportation, celebrity, grandeur, sports, music, and history and will spark an interest in learning more about each city and attraction.

Accompanying Degman’s story are Dave Szalay’s vivid depictions of each landmark, where some of the cutest—I mean most fearsome—monsters sightsee their way to hilarious result. Each image is framed with site-appropriate wallpaper, sporting a shield with the state’s name, a compass showing the state’s direction, and a little mode of transportation—from retro cars to trains to buses to airplanes. Szalay’s realistic portraits of each landmark will entice kids to look up the actual destination, and they’ll love picking out their favorite from among their whimsical travel buddies.

A laugh-out-loud and captivating travelogue for monster fans and monster fans of travel alike, Travel Guide for Monsters would be an often-asked-for addition to home, school, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2020 | ISBN 978-1534110373

Discover more about Lori Degman on her website.

To learn more about Dave Szalay, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Meet Lori Degman

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Today, I’m monstrously exited to be talking with Lori Degman about her book, traveling, and her special musical talent! My blog partner Jakki’s two sons also get in on the fun with a few questions of their own!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Kathy!

Jack would like to know: How did you get the idea for travel guide for monsters? 

Hi Jack! I actually got the original idea from another Jack – Colin Jack, the illustrator of my first book, 1 Zany Zoo. About eight years ago, Colin asked me if I could write a picture book about teaching monsters manners when traveling on public transportation. I tried, but I just couldn’t come up with anything I liked. About a year later I tried again and, instead of focusing on the type of transportation, I focused on location. I wrote the first stanza, “When traveling with monsters on a trip across the nation/this guide will give you tips to have a marvelous vacation”, then followed the same rhyme scheme and wrote couplets about different locations around the country.                                                 

Steve asks: Did you travel to places in your book? 

Hi Steve! I didn’t travel to any of the places to research them, but I’ve been to most of them on vacations in the past. I would love to go to each of them and talk to kids about the book at each place – maybe one of these days!                            

Steve and Jack were wondering: We really like the monsters. Do you know how Dave Szalay came up with them? Do you have a favorite monster?

I love the monsters too! I don’t know how Dave came up with them, so I went straight to the source and here is Dave’s answer: “I looked at the word history of monsters, mythology, legends, and folktales.  I read about the characteristics of monsters throughout history and then invented each monster based on what I learned.” 

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Dave Szalay chats about his monsters with Jack and Steve from his studio.

Me again – It’s really hard to pick a favorite monster because they’re all so great!  But, probably the monster in the Everglades is my favorite.  I especially love his waders. 

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Image copyright Dave Szalay, 2020, text copyright Lori Degman, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Hi Lori! Jack and Steve had some awesome questions, and I love your and Dave’s (thanks, Dave!) answers. I really enjoyed your clever rhymes and the monsters’ experiences. Could you take readers through a little bit of your process of writing this book?

Thanks so much, Kathy!  Once I established the rhyme scheme I was going to use and my plan to include different travel locations (as mentioned in question #1), I started listing places I’d been, like Mt. Rushmore, Statue of Liberty, Washington DC, and some places I’ve never been but want to visit in the future, like Niagara Falls and Cape Cod. Then I came up with ideas of some fun and silly things you’d tell your monster to do – or not to do – at these locations. Some of the locations went through several revisions with different tourist attractions. I think my hometown of Chicago had the most changes. First, I wrote about the elevated trains, then about the museums, and finally I wrote about Wrigley field – home of the Chicago Cubs. After writing the thirteen couplets, it was just a matter of getting the meter and rhyme just right.

You grew up and still live in Chicago. If you were going to take a trip, would you head north, south, east, or west? Why?

Within the United States, I’d like to take a road trip to all the states in the northeast. I’ve only spent time in New York City, Boston, and Washington DC, so I’d love to see all the other states up there. I’d probably go in the fall to see the changing leaves!

In your bio, you say that you love to write song parodies. How did you start doing them? Do you get to share these anywhere? Can you give readers a verse or two?

I wrote song parodies now and then, just for fun. But I started doing it a lot when I decided to write a musical for my long-time college friends and me. I wrote The Sound of MacMurray (our college) using the songs from The Sound of Music. Then I wrote a Christmas songbook for us, rewriting popular Christmas carols. When my friends and I turned 50, I wrote a song for each of them – and they wrote one for me. There are a lot of inside jokes in those songs, so I don’t think they’d be very funny to you. I did write a short song when my friend was diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis. It wasn’t serious or life threatening, otherwise I wouldn’t joke about it. But, when she told me the name of it, I knew I had to write a song about it! The song, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins fit perfectly. Here’s the song:                                                                                      “Hashimoto Thyroiditis, that’s her diagnosis / just a goiter on her neck so it’s a good prognosis / if she takes her medicine, that’s all the risk it poses / Hashimoto Thyroiditis, that’s her diagnosis.”

Just from reading your extensive 2020 event schedule, it looks like you love to meet with your readers. What do you like best about meeting with fans of your books?

As I’m writing this, I’m in my house for the 10th day in a row because of the Coronavirus! Because of that, my bookstore and school visits will most likely be canceled, which makes me really sad. I’m going to try to reschedule them for next school year. I was a teacher for 32 years and I’ve always loved children, so school visits are so much fun for me! I love motivating kids to read and write and use their imaginations.                                                                                               

Did your family take trips when you were a child? Do you remember one that made a special impression? Would you like to share a memory from a trip with your own kids?

Growing up, I had two sisters and one brother and my mom raised us by herself. She had to work a lot and we didn’t have much money, so we didn’t go on many trips. Sometimes we’d drive to our aunt and uncle’s cottage on a lake or to the Wisconsin Dells. The one big trip we took, when I was 9, was a driving trip to Washington DC and then down to Nashville to visit our cousins. That was before they had seat belts, so my three siblings and I squeezed into the back seat of our car the whole way. That was before cars had air-conditioning too, which made it a really long, hot drive.

The most exciting trip we took with my own kids was to London, England. Luckily for me, I won a trip for two there, including airfare and hotel, so we only had to buy the airplane tickets for our kids! Speaking of winning trips – I’ve also won trips to San Francisco and Hawaii! I’m pretty lucky I guess.

Traveling is always fun, but staycations are fun too. What’s one of your favorite tourist attractions in Chicago? What’s a favorite not-so-well-known spot?

I love the Art Institute of Chicago! It’s so huge, there’s always something new to see when you go there.  Plus, they have special exhibits all the time. All of the Chicago museums are really cool!

A fun not-so-well-known thing to do in Chicago is take an architectural boat tour. There are a couple of companies that will take you down the Chicago River and a guide will tell the history of the different buildings and their architects. It’s fun – but make sure to do it on a warm day!

What’s up next for you?

I don’t have any picture books under contract right now but I have several manuscripts out on submission, so hopefully that will change soon. In the meantime, I’m enjoying writing, doing school visits (once they’re open again) and spending time with family and friends!

Thanks, Lori! It’s been so fun chatting with you! Kids will have a blast traveling vicariously with your and Dave’s monsters!

You can connect with Lori on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Reading is Funny Day Activity

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Pack Your Bags for Fun! Board Game

 

If you love to travel, you know the first thing you have to do is pack your suitcase. With this printable game you can stuff your bag full of everything you’ll need for an awesome trip!

Supplies

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Directions

  1. Print one game board and set of playing cards for each player
  2. Print one playing die
  3. Players can color their suitcase game board if they’d like
  4. Cut out individual game cards and give a set to each player
  5. Cut out and assemble playing die, taping edges together
  6. Choose a player to go first. Play continues to the right.
  7. Players roll the die to place items on their backpack
  8. The first player to get all six items is the winner

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You can find Travel Guide for Monsters at these booksellers

Anderson’s Bookshop | Barbara’s Bookstore | Between the Lynes | Booked | The Book Stall | Amazon | IndieBound 

Picture Book Review

 

March 23 – National Cuddly Kittens Day

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*Tap Tap Tap* (Is this how my humans do it?) Meow! My name is Angus, and I am the picture book cat. I like sleeping, open windows, talking with my bird and squirrel friends, and above all books! For some reason, my whole family has been home all week! Which is purrfect for me because there are more people around to read me my favorite stories. According to my mom’s “catander” (that’s what that thing with all the squares is called, right?), today is National Cuddly Kittens Day! While she’s using that sticky roller on all of my favorite furniture, I’m going to share three of my favorite books about the most supurrlative animal in the world

About the Holiday

Today could be my very favorite holiday. Unless… is there a National Salmon Treats Day? No? Then today is my favorite holiday. We kittens (and cats – why should the kids get all the snuggles?) are cute and lovable, and just so, well…cuddly! How can you celebrate today with your kitten (or a cat!)? Be sure to give them plenty of scratches behind the ears and chin rubs and lots and lots of what I call “fluffins.” And when you sit down to relax don’t forget to leave some room between you and your laptop or book or knitting for your kitten (or cat!) to take a nap. Aaannd… don’t forget the salmon treats!

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Preview

“Are you in a tough spot? Has life got you down?” Perhaps you feel the need to be rescued by a superhero—you know the kind: strong, fast, and with an awesome costume. But maybe there’s an even better option for making your day brighter. What is it? It’s actually three things. Three soft, cuddly, BIG eyed “Emergency Kittens!” “Meet Mimi, Twee-Twee, and Adorbs! These three cuties make everything better!”

Angus’s Mewsings 

Of course they do! They are cats! This book is the cat’s pajamas! You can read my mom’s review here: Emergency Kittens

Ages 3 – 7

Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020 | ISBN 978-1984830081

Discover more about Jody Jensen Shaffer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Dave Mottram, his books, and his art, visit his website.

You can find Emergency Kittens! at these booksellers

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

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Preview

See Max crouching under the chair? He’s getting ready to do what he does best: attack! On the table sits a bowl of fish. “Max’s paws are made for pounces. / Max’s legs are built for trounces.” He springs…he leaps… “but hold on….” On the screen door crawls a lizard watched with curiosity by the dog. In a moment Max is there: “Max one. Dog none.”

Angus’s Mewsings

Hahahahaha! Chalk one up for cats! No dog can outwit a cat! This book is the cat’s meow! You can read my mom’s review here: Max…Attacks

Ages 4 – 8

Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1481451468

Discover more about Kathi Appelt and her books on her website.

To learn more about Penelope Dullaghan, her books, and her art, visit her website.

You can find Max… Attacks at these booksellers

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

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Preview

Lola loved cats, and while she had a room full of stuffed cats in all colors and sizes, she wanted a real kitten of her own. Her mother told her that “looking after a cat is a lot of work.” Lola wanted to learn more, so Mommy took her to the library to get a book about cats. Lola learned lots of interesting information about cats and how to take care of them.

Finally, everything was ready. Lola and Mommy went back to the shelter. The kitten was afraid to go into the carrier at first, but including her own blanket made her feel safe. At home, Lola watched her new kitten explore her corner and new things. Lola named her cat Makeda, “the name of an African queen.” Every day, Lola took “excellent care of Makeda.”

Lola’s friend Ty was excited to meet Makeda and even brought her a present. Makeda now feels at home—especially when she’s cuddling with Lola! At night Lola reads a story to Makeda before bedtime. She loves Makeda, and reading to her “is the best of all.”

Angus’s Mewsings

This story is mew-sic to my ears! I came from a shelter too, and I love books as much as Makeda! This book is the cat’s whiskers! Read my mom’s review here: Lola Gets a Cat

Ages 2 – 5

Charlesbridge, 2017 | ISBN 978-1580897365 (Hardcover) | ISBN 978-1580897365 (Paperback)

Discover more about Anna McQuinn and her books on her website.

To learn more about Rosalind Beardshaw, her books, and her art, visit her website.

You can find Lola Gets a Cat at these booksellers

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

Cuddly Kittens Day Activities

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A Little Ball of Kitten

 

This sweet little kitten is easy to make and can keep you company on your desk or shelf! Since every kitten is different, you can make yours to look just the way you want. Here’s how I made mine:

Supplies

  • Wooden ball with a flat bottom, available in craft stores and in different sizes
  • Craft paint in any color kitten you’d like (I used red and yellow and mixed it to make a mottled orange)
  • Craft paint in pink or white for the inner ear
  • Scrap of fleece for the ears. Fleece is easily shaped to the rounded ball and when painted is stiff enough to stand up on its own.
  • Thin, colored wire in several colors for the tail (string or twine, wrapped wire, fleece, stiff paper, and other materials could also be used)
  • Paint brush
  • Permanent marker for making the face
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden ball and let dry
  2. Paint the scrap of fleece to match the wooden ball, let dry
  3. Cut out small triangular shapes for the ears. Round the bottom of the ears slightly so they fit the shape of the ball
  4. If making a tail from several colors of thin wire, twist them together, leaving one end untwisted
  5. With the glue gun or strong glue attach the ears to the top of the head
  6. With the glue gun attach the tail to the back of the wooden ball in the center near the base
  7. With the marker, draw eyes, nose, and mouth for the face and semicircles near the bottom for the paws

Match the Kittens Puzzle

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These kittens all have a twin, but they got mixed up while playing! Can you find the pairs again in this printable Match the Kittens Puzzle?

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my post! Now…to watch a few cute cat videos before my nap.

Picture Book Review

 

March 18 – National Awkward Moments Day

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About the Holiday

We’ve all had them—those moments when we trip over our own feet, forget a name, wave to someone we don’t know—those moments when we wish we could disappear. Times like that are…well…awkward. So why do they get their own holiday? Well,  moments like that happen to everyone, they’re just part of being human. Today, celebrate those small embarrassments and even enjoy a laugh with the endearingly over-eager caterpillar in today’s book.

By Jakki Licare

The VERY Impatient Caterpillar

By Ross Burach

 

The Impatient Caterpillar is wondering why all the caterpillars are climbing up the tree. His friend tells him that they are going up to metamorphosize, but Impatient Caterpillar doesn’t know what that means. “Meta-WHAT-now?” he asks. His friend explains they are turning into butterflies. Caterpillar had no idea he could do that! He cannot wait to become a butterfly. 

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Image copyright Ross Burach, 2019, courtesy of Scholastic.

Hanging upside down side-by-side at the top of the tree, Impatient Caterpillar wants to know what comes next. His friend explains that they now need to build a chrysalis, and, in the blink of an eye, he’s completely encased in his chrysalis. Impatient Caterpillar is incredulous. “WHAAAT? How did you DO that? Is it a spin? Or more of a twirl?” Impatient Caterpillar struggles to build his chrysalis, but once he is encased, he wonders what he has to do next. His friend replies, “Just be patient and let nature take its course.” 

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Image copyright Ross Burach, 2019, courtesy of Scholastic.

Impatient Caterpillar is full of questions. Mainly, “Am I a butterfly yet?” All the other chrysalises tell them to be quiet because, after all, they are trying to metamorphosize. When Impatient Caterpillar learns that it takes two weeks to turn into a butterfly, he freaks out. What if he has to go bathroom? He looks at his watch, calls for a comic book, tries to order a pizza, and plays with a paddle ball. Looking at the calendar, he realizes that it’s still Day 1 and decides that he is going to break free. 

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Image copyright Ross Burach, 2019, courtesy of Scholastic.

He bursts out of his chrysalis and is convinced that he is a butterfly. Unfortunately, he is now only a rather dilapidated and awkward-looking caterpillar. He jumps off of the branch to fly and splats to the ground. He decides to try to metamorphosize again. Back in his chrysalis, Impatient Caterpillar gives himself a lot of pep talks, trying to convince himself that he can do this time. A squirrel watches curiously as he hears Impatient Caterpillar talking to himself.

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Image copyright Ross Burach, 2019, courtesy of Scholastic.

At last the Impatient Caterpillar seems to be getting the hang of it. He practices deep breathing and speaks positively to himself until on Day 7 he finally finds his inner chill. And at the end of the week…he emerges as a beautiful butterfly! He professes a new appreciation for patience. But…wait!…where is everybody going? His friend tells him they’re migrating. “Right. Right.,” this newly patient butterfly says. He takes off, ready for the long flight. Just one question: “ARE WE THERE YET?”

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Image copyright Ross Burach, 2019, courtesy of Scholastic.

 Ross Burach’s fun and silly story is told completely in dialogue with bright bold graphics. The VERY Impatient Caterpillar merges the importance of positive thinking and patience with the science of metamorphosis. The story gives great context clues as to what metamorphosis, a chrysalis, and migration are. This allows teachers and parents to open up conversations afterwards as to the definitions of these words. Children can point out dialogue like “Transform into butterflies” for metamorphosis or the visual of a chrysalis after the caterpillars climb the tree.

Not only does this story have a wonderful science element to it, but it also touches on the necessity of believing in yourself. The second time Impatient Caterpillar tries to metamorphosize, he doesn’t fully believe that he can be patient enough. Then, he starts talking positively to himself. “I can be patient,” he tells himself.  He takes deep breaths in and out to calm himself down. Burach even illustrates the Impatient Caterpillar meditating in his chrysalis. When the Impatient Caterpillar realizes he’s made it to day 7 he exclaims, “I’m doing it!” These are terrific elements to point out to children and discuss how we can encourage ourselves.

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As many children can relate, Burach’s lovable main character struggles with patience. The wonderful illustrations of the Impatient Caterpillar inside his chrysalis show him wide eyed, sweating, flipping calendar pages and staring at his watch. The flood of black around the chrysalis also emphasizes how alone the Impatient Caterpillar must feel. When the Impatient Caterpillar prematurely emerges from his chrysalis, Bruach physically shows the problems with impatience. Caterpillar is steaming, his antennae are warped, and he’s crazy-eyed. Burach’s perfect ending showing Impatient Caterpillar struggling on his migration journey shows that patience is something that has to be constantly practiced.

A fun read aloud for any story time, to encourage patience and mindfulness, and a welcome addition to science lessons for classrooms and homeschool, The VERY Impatient Caterpillar will take flight as a favorite on home, school, and public library bookshelves. 

Ages 4-8

Scholastic Press,  2019 | ISBN 978-1338289411 | ISBN 978-1338601138 (Spanish edition)

Discover more about Ross Burach and his books on his website.

National Awkward Moments Day Activity

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Chrysalis to Butterfly

 

Make your own chrysalis and watch your butterflies emerge! Color your own butterflies and fold them into their own chrysalises. Once placed in the water, the butterflies will transform.

Supplies

  • Printable Butterfly Template
  • Paper
  • Markers/Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Shallow pan filled with water 

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Directions

  1. Print the butterfly template
  2. Color butterflies
  3. Cut butterflies out. Be sure to snip in between the wings
  4. Gently fold butterflies. Do not fold hard or crease them, otherwise they will not unfold
  5. Place in the shallow pan in water. Butterflies will open up on their own!
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You can find The VERY Impatient Caterpillar at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

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March 11 – COVER REVEAL!

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From a New York Times bestselling author with over fifteen million books in print, the hilarious story of an injury-prone reindeer who saves Christmas:

Comet, the Unstoppable Reindeer

By Jim Benton

 

It’s the night before Christmas, and Comet is ready…until he’s injured in an unexpected elf incident and replaced by a rookie named Freddy.

Comet can’t believe his bad luck. Then he realizes something even worse—in all the confusion, Santa has left the toys behind and isn’t answering his phone. Injury and all, Comet sets out to deliver the presents, crisscrossing the globe from Japan and Egypt to France and Cleveland. After a run-in with a goose, a near miss with a minivan, and too many chimney crash landings to count, can Comet hobble his way into pulling off a Christmas miracle?

Ages 3 – 7 

Two Lions, 2020 | ISBN 978-1542043472

Comet, the Unstoppable Reindeer will be released on September 15. The book is now available to preorder.

About the Author

Jim Benton Photo

Photo by Laurie Tennent

Jim Benton is the award-winning creator of the New York Times bestselling series Dear Dumb Diary and Franny K. Stein as well as the popular It’s Happy Bunny brand. His books have sold more than fifteen million copies in twenty-five countries and have garnered numerous honors. Like Comet, Jim knows what it’s like to hobble around in a cast; however, he is still learning to fly. Find out more about him at www.jimbenton.com.

You can connect with Jim Benton on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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You can preorder Comet, the Unstoppable Reindeer on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2 – Read Across America Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday, established by the National Education Association in 1997, encourages children all across the country to celebrate reading and all of its joys and benefits. To commemorate the day, authors, illustrators, politicians, athletes, librarians, and families hold special reading events in schools, libraries, bookstores, and community centers. A love of reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures and begun early can be a powerful force for future success. Celebrate today by reading with a child or on your own. There are fabulous worlds and stories waiting to be discovered.

Nerp!

By Sarah Lynne Reul

 

If you want to serve up a giggle-feast for your kids, you only need to open Nerp! To have them gobbling up the big slice of silliness Sarah Lynne Reul has whipped up. Part reptile, part fish, and completely adorable, the family conjured up by Reul—a mom, a dad, a baby, and their pet—are just getting ready to enjoy dinner.

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Copyright Sarah Lynne Reul, 2020, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books

The baby has just helped Mom plop out their pet’s food into its dish and is pointing out how delicious that pink wiggly blob it. But the little family friend looks aghast and lets out a very decided “NERP.” Just then, though, all attention turns to Dad who proudly holds aloft the bowl of jelly-bean colored “Frizzle frazzle hotchy potch!” The baby gazes at his dad pleadingly while pointing at the bowl. “Hotchy-potch?” he asks. Then, giving the bowl the side-eye as if it might jump up and bite him, the tyke pushes it away with a decided “NERP.”

Another bowl appears, this one full of “Mushy gushy bloobarsh.” This bowl is even more ominous than the first, and the baby gasps. Their long-snouted pup, however, is licking its lips. Mom and Dad were apparently ready for these first rejections and have two more dishes on hand, but now Baby—his eyes closed—cannot even stand to sit at the table. “NERPITY NERPITY NERPITY NERP!” he says.

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Copyright Sarah Lynne Reul, 2020, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books

Perhaps Mom and Dad have a personal chef stashed away somewhere because six more scrumptious meals—one even holding its own fork—emerge from the kitchen to entice the little one to eat. But where is Baby? His chair’s empty and his bib discarded. And yet there is a very welcome “ssluuurrrrrrrpppppp” sound coming from somewhere. Mom and Dad are so delighted, happy, thrilled to hear this sound of happy scarfing that they drop all of those carefully prepared and plated meals and rush to find out where it’s coming from.

But Whhhaaaaatttt!!!?? do they see? Their precious tot is down on all fours guzzling…pet food. Oh, well, shrugs Mom as Baby burps, but Dad is none too happy as he scrapes all of their hard work onto an enormous plate for a very happy pup who lets out a decided “YERP!” And with full bellies these two lay back with a “Yerpetty yerpetty yerpy yerp.”

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Copyright Sarah Lynne Reul, 2020, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books

Clever mashups of foodie words, tasty adjectives, and nonsense words that are fun to say make reading Nerp! aloud––and with verve––a joy.  Combining this entertaining dialogue with charming mixed-media illustrations set in a diorama made of cardboard, Sarah Lynne Reul creates a wholly original story that will keep children and adults laughing all the way through. Reul addresses that age-old food fight between finicky kids and frantic caregivers with hilarious dishes and facial expressions that perfectly reflect the emotions on both sides. Her pitch-perfect ending will delight kids and have adults nodding in appreciation.

Perfect for both reluctant and adventurous eaters as well as for all book lovers, Nerp! belongs on the reading menu at home, school, and public libraries.

Ages 3 – 7

Sterling Children’s Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1454934028

To learn more about Sarah Lynne Reul, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Read Across America Day Activity

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Books to Love, Books to Read Book Bag

 

True book lovers can’t go anywhere without a book (or two or three) to read along the way. With this easy craft you can turn a cloth bag into a kid-size book bag!

Supplies

  • Printable Templates: Books to Read Template | Books to Love Template or iron-on letters found at craft stores
  • Small cloth bag, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the bag that sheet sets now come in
  • Cloth trim or strong ribbon, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the cloth handles from shopping bags provided from some clothing stores
  • Scraps of different colored and patterned cloth. Or use quilting squares, available at craft and sewing stores
  • Pen or pencil for tracing letters onto cloth
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Thread (optional)
  • Needle (optional)

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Directions

  1. Print the sayings and cut out the letters
  2. Trace letters onto different kinds of cloth
  3. Cut out cloth letters
  4. Iron cloth bag if necessary
  5. Attach words “Books to Read” to one side of bag with fabric glue
  6. Attach words “Books to Love” to other side of bag with fabric glue
  7. Cut cloth trim or ribbon to desired length to create handles
  8. Glue (or sew) handles onto the inside edge of bag

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You can find Nerp! at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

February 13 – World Radio Day

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About the Holiday

The radio has provided entertainment, news, comfort, and information and has united people both near and far ever since Guglielmo Marconi invented  it in 1895. Today, radio continues to be an important part of people’s lives around the world. February 13 was established as World Radio Day “to celebrate radio as a medium, improve international cooperation among broadcasters, and to encourage both major networks and community radio to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality across the airwaves.” This year UNESCO calls on radio stations to uphold diversity, both in their newsroom and on the airwaves. According to UNESCO, this initiative encompasses three main sub-themes:

  • Advocating for pluralism in radio, including a mix of public, private and community broadcasters;
  • Encouraging representation in the newsroom, with teams comprised of diverse society groups;
  • Promoting a diversity of editorial content and program types reflecting the variety of the audiences.

To learn more about World Radio Day and find a Celebration Kit to download, visit the UNESCO World Radio Day website.

A Fox Found a Box

By Ged Adamson

 

Fox was diving over and over into the fluffy snow looking for food. But one head-first leap wasn’t so soft—“Ouch!” Fox discovered an unusual-looking object under the snow and pulled it out. Fox and the other animals gathered around to study it. Finally, Owl said, “‘I think it’s a box.’” The box had a “stick on top that moved,” and curious “round things” on the front. Fox tried turning one.

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2019, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Suddenly, sound filled Fox’s den. “‘The box is singing,’” chirped the birds. The animals began to move along with the music. “It felt nice.” Every day the animals listened to the box. The music was always different. Sometimes the animals listened quietly; sometimes they danced. At night the music wafted through the forest.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-fox-found-a-box-listening

Copyright Ged Adamson, 2019, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

But one morning the box stayed silent. No matter what the animals did, the box refused to sing. The animals missed their box. But then Fox heard a “drip! drop! drip! drop!” He felt his ears twitch and his tail swish the way they did to the music from the box. The other animals began to notice the sound of the wind, the river, and the “chitter chatter of geese.” Even the snow made a beautiful sound when they walked in it.

And that wasn’t all they noticed. Smells tickled their noses and the drifting snow tasted delicious. There was always a gorgeous view. Now, every night the animals went to sleep to the music of the forest. “It felt nice.”

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2019, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

There’s a quiet magic to this tale that is as enchanting as the first snow of winter. Ged Adamson’s simple entreaty for people to look on their surroundings with new eyes and appreciate all they see, hear, smell, taste, and experience also touches on the joys of the unexpected and on the melancholy of and recovery from loss. Through it all these friends—who exude the charm, kindness, and thoughtfulness of all of Adamson’s characters—relish their time together, sharing whatever comes. Adamson’s adorable forest animals, rendered in a smart, fresh color palette, will make readers of all ages smile as they revel in new-found emotions while gathered around the radio and, later, when rediscovering their familiar woodland home.

A charming layered story perfect for read alouds on its own or in combination with various styles of music for listening and movement story times, A Fox Found a Box would be a favorite on home, classroom, or public library bookshelves

Ages 3 – 7

Schwartz & Wade, 2019 | ISBN 978-1984830531

To learn more about Ged Adamson, his books, and his art, visit his website.

World Radio Day Activity

CPB - Radio Man box radios from side

Box Radio Desk Organizer

 

With a recycled box and the provided printable templates  you can make a desk organizer that looks like a radio with this fun craft!

Supplies

  • Cardboard box – Use an empty cube-shaped tissue box, pasta box, or any small box
  • Wooden chopstick, stick, or straw
  • Printable Radio Face Template
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glue – a hot-glue gun works well on the cardboard; regular glue for the buttons and tape for the station tuner window
  • Paint (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Prepare the box:
  • Choose a box to be your radio. In the pictures I used a cube-shaped tissue box and a penne pasta box with a cellophane window in it.
  • If you are using a box without an opening in the top, cut the top or bottom flaps off of one end of the box, depending on where you want the station tuner window to go.
  1. Paint the box:
  • You can paint the printed front, back and sides of the box.
  • OR if you want a plain box to use “as-is” or to paint: take the box apart at the seams and turn it “inside out.”
  • If you are using a pasta box with a window in it, tape the stations tuner template to the cellophane window before gluing the seams
  • Glue the original seam and flaps (a hot-glue gun works well).
  • Paint. Let dry
  1. Cut out the radio dials, speaker, and stations tuner window and attach to box
  2. To make the antenna, wrap the chopstick, stick, or straw in a strip of aluminum foil
  3. Attach the antenna to your box:
  • For pasta boxes tape the antenna to the inside corner of the box
  • For cube tissue boxes, make a hole in the right hand corner and push antenna in
  1. Use your Radio Desk Organizer to hold pencils, rulers, bookmarks, anything!

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You can find A Fox Found a Box at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

February 6 – It’s Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week and Interview with Author Sally Nicholls

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About the Holiday

If you’re a fan of children’s authors and illustrators, then this week is one you’ll want to celebrate. All week long, authors and illustrators visit bookstores, schools, and other venues to share their love of children’s literature and get kids and adults excited about reading and writing. Some of these events include storytelling, writing workshops, readings, and presentations. To find out more about the Children’s Authors Network and discover classroom resources to use throughout the year, visit the Children’s Authors Network website.

The Button Book

Written by Sally Nicholls | Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin

 

A squirrel comes across a red button on the forest floor. He nudges it with a stick and then gives it a good press just to see what will happen. Ha! The button’s lid opens and a little horn rises on a pole. “Beep!” it says. A dog and a bird appear from behind a tree and a bush to find out what the noise is all about. Now the three of them find an orange button. The squirrel gives it a push. “It’s a clapping button! Everybody clap!”

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Image copyright Bethan Woollvin, 2020, text copyright Sally Nicholls, 2020. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

When the dog, the bird, and the squirrel find a blue button in the forest, they wonder how they’ll ever press it. This button is so big all three could stand on it and there would still be room. Luckily, an elephant is passing by. This blue button is “a singing button!” Two more animals wander by to listen to the trio sing. Down the road, the five friends find a green button that makes everyone giggle—well, almost everyone.

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Image copyright Bethan Woollvin, 2020, text copyright Sally Nicholls, 2020. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

But the yellow button is one everyone likes. “It’s a bouncing button!” Wow! Everyone’s bouncing and tumbling—right off the page. Time to settle down to some cuddles with the pink button. Ahhh. Maybe this would be a good time to stop pressing buttons. Well…there is a purple button right over there. Everyone’s a little unsure—should they press it or not?

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Image copyright Bethan Woollvin, 2020, text copyright Sally Nicholls, 2020. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

No! Stop! “Ha ha! Hee hee! That tickles! “Please, press the pink button, quick!” Oh no! Not the green button again! “Have you learned any manners yet?” Oh, good. This is more like it––the blue button! Yay! Let’s sing and play some instruments. The red button wants a little attention again too! Hey, look! There’s a new white button on the wall. What does that one do? Wait! It’s dark now. What are we supposed to…. Oh! “Goodnight, everyone.”

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Image copyright Bethan Woollvin, 2020, text copyright Sally Nicholls, 2020. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

Sally Nicholls’ fresh take on interactive picture books will have kids in stitches as they beep and clap, sing and dance, jump and hug, and do all the moves while eagerly wanting to see which button they get to press next. Nicholls’ prompts are irresistibly enticing and become funnier and more personal with every page turn. Her cyclical storyline gives readers the chance to revisit their favorite buttons while leading to the surprising, but just-right ending (or is it really the end?). Along with all of this fun, kids are also introduced to various colors, shapes, sizes and spatial relationships. There are plenty of opportunities for kids to count and talk about different types of buttons as well.

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Image copyright Bethan Woollvin, 2020, text copyright Sally Nicholls, 2020. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

Young readers will be enchanted with Bethan Woollvin’s curious, bubbly, talented, fun-loving kids…I mean…characters as they discover button after button on pages that mirror each button’s color. As if by magic, the squirrel, dog, bird, and other friends also change color as they press and respond to every button, inviting readers to follow along. While kids will egg on the animals to press all the other buttons, when they come to the white switch on the wall, children may very well let out a plaintive Noooooo…! But Woollvin has them covered here too. A little exploration of the nighttime bedroom will reward readers with a “Wake Up!” button so they can start all over again.

If you’re looking for a lively read aloud to spark interactive story times that will be asked for again and again, you’ll want to add The Button Book to your home, classroom, or public library collection.

Ages 3 – 7

Tundra Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-0735267152

Discover more about Sally Nicholls and her books on her website.

To learn more about Bethan Woollvin, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Meet Sally Nicholls

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I’m thrilled to have this chance to talk to Sally Nicholls today about her adorable and fun picture book, its journey, and what she’s looking forward to in sharing it with readers.

You burst into the book world with your debut middle grade novel Ways to Live Forever, which won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and was made into a movie in 2010. Since then you’ve published many more novels, including your latest middle-grade, A Chase in Time. The Button Book is your first picture book. What inspired you to write this story?

Reading to my baby! He loved books, but until he was about eighteen months, he didn’t like any that were just story. He wanted books he could interact with. I used to go to the library and look for anything with a button or a flap or touchy-feely bits. We read a lot of picture books, and I was fascinated by which ones worked and which ones didn’t – why exactly were Fox’s Socks and Where’s Spot? so successful but other books weren’t?

I decided I’d like to have a go at writing one myself. I know paper engineering and fur and so forth is expensive for publishers, and realistically that wasn’t my area of expertise anyway. So I set myself the challenge to write a book a baby would enjoy in the same interactive way, but only using words.

I love how active and funny The Button Book is! Kids are definitely going to be giggling, up on their feet, and playing along. It also has a wonderful cyclical storyline. How did you choose what the buttons do and infuse your story with so much reader interaction?

The Button Book is basically all the things my baby loved the most. If I wanted to make him laugh, I would pretty much just blow raspberries at him or tickle him or get him to clap. So that part was very easy.

The cyclical storyline came from watching programmes like The Teletubbies which really play on repetition. And also having my own baby who liked to say “Again!” Of course, the joy of The Button Book, which I hadn’t really realised until I read it with my second child, is that the child can have as much ‘again’ as they want just by pressing the button.

Bethan Woollvin’s adorable illustrations really invite camaraderie and play. What was your reaction to seeing her illustrations? Do you have a favorite spread and if so, what do you love about it?

I love Bethan’s work. My British publisher asked if I’d like to work with her and it was an instant yes. I’m not a very visual thinker, so I didn’t really have any expectations for how the book would look when it was illustrated. It’s been so exciting to see it take shape.

I think my favourite spread is probably the cover. It looks so colourful and inviting and unusual.

How has the experience of publishing a picture book differed from publishing your novels? Was there any part of the process that surprised you?

How long it took! I was sent finished artwork about eighteen months before the book was published. Printing picture books is so expensive that publishers need to get as many co-editions as possible to reduce the cost. So there’s a very long lead time.

What’s the best part about being an author for children? What are you most looking forward to as you promote The Button Book and share it with readers?

Books matter so much to young children. I’ve seen how much they matter to my family, and one of the most joyful things about The Button Book is how much my second baby loves it. (My eldest likes it too, but he’s a bit old for it now. Also, my baby has no idea that his mum wrote the book, which makes his love even more special.) So that, and also hearing from readers who have been touched by my books in particular ways, perhaps if the storyline resonates with them, or helps them through a difficult time, or just helps them learn to read!

Do you have any anecdote from a book event that you’d like to share?

I took The Button Book in to share with my eldest son’s class, and I got the children to help me make up a story. It was Halloween, so the children said they wanted a story about a vampire who likes flowers. One little boy objected (I think because he wanted his own idea to be picked) which my son took as a misogynistic slight. “Boys can like flowers!” he told him. I felt very proud.

What’s up next for you?

I’m currently finishing off a YA novel about a teen mother whose baby is being raised as her youngest brother. It’s a romance and a family story, and it’s set in a Yorkshire village in Christmas 1919, so there’s a ball, and a young man in an army greatcoat, and lots of chilblains. I don’t know if that’s going to find an American publisher though.

My next picture book is called Who Makes a Forest? It’s an ecological story about the power of small things to come together to make great changes.

What is your favorite holiday? Why is it your favorite?

This sounds weird, but I love the dead days between Christmas and New Year. All the stress of Christmas is over, everyone is off work and school, families are together, and it’s understood that your job is just to snuggle up by the fire and eat leftover turkey and Christmas cake and mince pies.

Thanks, Sally! It’s been wonderful chatting with you! I wish you all the best with The Button Book and all of your books and am looking forward to seeing Who Makes a Forest? when it’s released.

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You can find The Button Book at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review