October 1 – International Coffee Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-undercover-one-of-these-things-is-almost-like-the-others-cover

About the Holiday

Is there anything better than sitting down with a steaming cup of coffee for a little break during the day? Today’s holiday lets people all over the world do just that. Whether you like your coffee strong and hot, with lots of milk, or flavored with tastes of the season, there are versions of this delicious drink just for you. With an ancient and storied history, coffee is one food that unites us all. To celebrate why not grab a cup of joe for yourself, stir up a foamy hot chocolate for your kids, and sit down with a good book – like today’s brain teaser!

Undercover: One of These Things Is Almost Like the Others

By Bastien Contraire

 

Undercover agents complete successful missions by blending in with their surroundings and the people they encounter, but’s impossible for them to actually become the people they are investigating. In the same vein Undercover: One of These Things Is Almost Like the Others cleverly inserts a closely shaped item onto a two page spread that contains a family of objects (for instance a soccer ball among fruit).

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-undercover-one-of-these-things-is-almost-like-the-others-beetles

Image copyright Bastien Contraire, courtesy of phaidon.com

The pink, green, and brown stenciled illustrations boldly placed on a white background offer stimulating visuals while also making the task of discovering the interloper surprisingly tricky as out perceptions and even preconceived notions are tested. Many of the match-ups provide not only a challenge but sly humor as well, riffing on the shapes, purpose, relationship, and even history of the items on the page. 

Picking out the imposter is only the beginning of the fun readers can have with Undercover. Each page can start a discussion of how the odd item is different and how it is similar to the others; the similar objects can be categorized into smaller sets; industrious kids may like to design their own pages giving the “almost” image some companions; and wordsmiths may want to invent stories involving the groupings and how they came to be.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-undercover-one-of-these-things-is-almost-like-the-others-ice-cream

Image copyright Bastien Contraire, courtesy of phaidon.com

Fans of “I Spy” types of books and games will love testing their knowledge and observational skills against the pod of whales, city modes of transportation, insects and fish, sea-worthy craft, various types of food, office equipment, and a host of birds and animals in this 64-page wordless picture book. Perfect for classrooms and home bookshelves, Undercover: One of These Things is Almost Like the Others is sure to be asked for again and again on any day when fun, quiet entertainment is just what’s called for.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-undercover-one-of-these-things-is-almost-like-the-others-dogs

Image copyright Bastien Contraire, courtesy of phaidon.com

Bastien Contraire’s stylized stencil-print illustrations of long-antennae beetles; flat and spiny fish; friendly dinos; ice cream treats; farm, forest and antlered animals; musical instruments; and more will delight kids and spur them to discover the names of each. The rounded edges, sleek lines, and delineated details of the images may even inspire budding artists to try their own hand at stenciling.

Ages 4 and up

Phaidon Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0714872506

International Coffee Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ceramic-mug-craft

Mug Masterpiece

 

Somehow drinks taste better in a mug you’ve decorated yourself! With this easy craft you can design a mug for your hot chocolate, tea, juice, or any favorite drink!

Supplies

  • Ceramic mug, available at craft stores
  • Paint included with mug decorating kit
  • OR
  • Bakeable ceramic markers
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Design and decorate your mug
  2. Follow the directions on the mug kit to bake on the paint OR
  3. Follow the directions of the ceramic markers to finish your mug

 

 

August 5 – It’s National Peach Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-each-peach-pear-plum-cover

About the Holiday

Is there anything as delicious as a perfectly ripe peach? Native to China and classified with the almond, the peach is peachy in pies, tarts, fruit salads, and just on its own. To celebrate today pick some peaches from a local farm, farmer’s market, or grocery store and enjoy!

Each Peach Pear Plum

By Janet and Allan Ahlberg

 

This perennial children’s favorite “I spy” nursery rhyme book is a perfect read any time, but especially during the summer when it can be tucked away in a travel bag or picnic basket and enjoyed on the go. After the first introduction of “Each peach pear plum / I spy Tom Thumb,” in which readers are invited to find Tom who is happily reading high in a peach tree nearly hidden by leaves and fruit, every page offers another double challenge.

Building on the discovery in the preceding page, kids are given a hint as to the current whereabouts of the previous character and are also urged to find another nursery rhyme or literary favorite: “Tom Thumb in the cupboard / I spy Mother Hubbard” followed by “Mother Hubbard down the cellar / I spy Cinderella.”  This structure creates anticipation in even the youngest readers as they begin to recognize the pattern and wonder who is coming next.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-each-peach-pear-plum-interior-art-mother-hubbard

Copyright Janet and Allan Ahlberg, 1999, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers

Besides Tom Thumb, Old Mother Hubbard, and Cinderella, the Three Bears, Baby Bunting, Little Bo-Peep, Jack and Jill, the Wicked Witch, Robin Hood, and a deliciously plump Plum Pie are hidden in the book. What makes Each Peach Pear Plum a classic is the Ahlberg’s artistic magic, which is on gorgeous display in every illustration. The vivid, fine-line drawings spare no details in bringing the short text fully to life.

Humor abounds, especially in the depiction of the “hidden” character or characters, whose only appearance is an arm dusting a shelf, faces at a window, feet sticking out of tall grass, a camouflaged archer, and more. And perhaps the clumsy baby bear could use a bit of assistance! Kids will love pointing out the birds and bunnies, dog, cat, and other animals that also follow from page to page.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-each-peach-pear-plum-interior-art-picnic

Copyright Janet and Allan Ahlberg, 1999, courtesy Viking Books for Young Readers

Each Peach Pear Plum is also a wonderful introduction to the literature alluded to and will entice kids to hear all the stories contained in this forever favorite. Each Peach Pear Plum makes a fantastic gift for new babies or young readers and belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Ages Birth – 5 and up

Viking Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 1999 | ISBN 978-0670882786 (Board Book Edition)

It’s National Peach Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-picnic-find-the-differences

Peachy Picnic Find the Differences Puzzle

 

These two friends are enjoying a picnic and took two selfies. Can you spot the 12 differences between the two pictures in this printable Peachy Picnic Find the Differences Puzzle?