December 7 – Letter Writing Day


About the Holiday

With all the letter writing going on during December by young wishers, it should be no surprise that a letter-writing day be included in this month’s calendar. Today’s holiday celebrates all forms of personal communication written by hand and remembers the correspondence of the past that has given us such insight into our favorite poets, novelists, historical figures, and more. Sure email might be faster, but there’s a certain luxury in taking the time to write your thoughts and an unexplainable excitement in holding a heartfelt letter in your hands. The punctuation marks in today’s reviewed book not only help correspondents write more dramatically, but they remind us that we all have unique things to say!

Exclamation Mark

Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal | Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld


! “stood out from the very beginning.” When he was standing in a row of ……, it didn’t matter if he was in the middle or at the end—he still stuck out. The only time he wasn’t so noticeable was when he laid down to go to sleep. Sometimes he twisted himself into coils and did somersaults to be like the others, but nothing worked. “He just wasn’t like everyone else. Period.” This left him feeling “confused, flummoxed, and deflated.”


Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, text copyright Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Courtesy of Scholastic Press

He was just about to run away from all his problems when he met ?. ? rushed right up to him and wanted to know everything. “Who are you?…What’s your favorite color? Do you like frogs?…Do you wanna race to the corner? Is there an echo in here? Is there an echo in here?…Why do you look so surprised?….” The list went on and on.


Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, text copyright Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Courtesy of Scholastic Press

“STOP!” ! shouted. The sound stunned him. ? smiled and wanted him to do it again. ! didn’t know if he could, so he tried a small “Hi!” “That felt right, so he tried something bigger. Howdy!” And then he said, “Wow!” After that there was no stopping him: “You’re it!…Home run!…Yum!…Look out!…Thanks!…Boo!…Go!”

He rushed off to show everyone what he could do. The …… were delighted and “there was much exclaiming.” Now feeling happy and confident, ! “went off to make his mark.”


Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, text copyright Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Courtesy of Scholastic Press

Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s clever story of an exclamation point searching for self expression is as moving as it is original. Kids will recognize his feelings of sticking out in a crowd and uncertainty of purpose and applaude when ? comes on the scene to befriend !. Readers will giggle knowingly at the barrage of questions, and feel emboldened themselves as ! finds his voice and his own unique contribution.

Tom Lichtenheld’s adorable punctuation marks hanging out on kid-ruled paper demonstrate all the expression and expressions of this well-crafted story. With simple dot eyes and small streak mouths, Lichtenheld animates the various emotions of the periods, exclamation mark, and question mark as they discover !’s special talent with individuality for each. The unbridled exuberance of ?‘s and !’s meeting makes this a terrific book about friendship as well.

! deftly points out “What would we do without exclamation points?” Likewise it asks, “What would we do without each one of us?” The positive message, creatively and humorously presented, makes this book a terrific addition to any child’s library.

Scholastic Press, 2013 | ISBN 978-054543679

You’ll find more about Amy Krouse Rosenthal, her books for children and adults, videos, other projects, and so much more on her website!

Discover a portfolio of books by Tom Lichtenheld as well as fun book-related activities and resources for teachers on his website!

!!!! for this ! book trailer!

National Letter Writing Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pencil-riding-kids-find-the-differencesLetter-Writing Kids Find the Differences Puzzle


Sometimes writing a letter is a flight of fancy through the thoughts and stories you want to tell someone else. Can you find the 12 differences in this printable Letter-Writing Kids Find the Differences Puzzle?

Picture Book Review 

August 14 – It’s Family Fun Month


About the Holiday

August is a perfect time to have fun with the family! The days are long and warm, and there are so many activities to discover. Get away from the heat at a pool, the beach, or on the cool shade of a forest path. Explore your adventurous side while camping or traveling to an unfamiliar town, or increase your knowledge by visiting a science, art, history, or other museum. Before school starts up for another year, get out there and have fun!

Rosie the Raven

By Helga Bansch | Translated by Shelley Tanaka


In a nest high in a tree, a little pink egg among the blue speckled ones hatches a little girl. As soon as all five babies are out of their shells, the hatchling says “Mama and Papa took us under their wings. It was nice and warm there.” The babies are hungry and the little girl, following the example of her brothers and sisters, opens her mouth wide to enjoy the “worms, flies, maggots, and snails.”


Image copyright Helga Bansch, courtesy of

As they grow, the little ones “slept, had cawing contests and goofed around.” Because the little girl is always cold, her papa got her a red dress and hat. “‘Our little Rosie,’” Mama called me,” the girl says. Although Rosie and her nest mates are a happy family, Rosie says that “every day others would come and stare at us” as well as offer unsolicited advice: “‘It needs to exercise its wings” or, because they considered Rosie ugly without feathers, “Rub it with birch leaves. That will make its feathers grow.”

Under the critical gaze of these outsiders, Rosie looks at herself and notices for the first time that she is different than her Mama and Papa, her brothers and sisters. Her siblings are already learning how to fly, their caws are wild and resonant, and their feathers are fluffy and soft. In comparison, when Rosie flaps nothing happens, her voice sounds “pitiful,” and she has no fluff.


Image copyright Helga Bansch, courtesy of

Rosie “so wanted to be like them” that she beats her “wings over and over.” She caws until she is hoarse and rubs herself with birch leaves until her skin glows green. Soon she decides that “all this was just silly.” “‘I’m just different. And if the others talk about me, what do I care,’” she thinks. Besides, she learns that her “kind of wings are quite useful for other things.”

When Rosie’s siblings fly away from the nest after several weeks, the nest seems quiet. As the weeks progress and “the air began to smell like autumn, it was time to set out for the south.” Rosie’s parents practice flying with Rosie on their back until she can ride safely. Finally the day comes when they make the trip, and they find a new home in a tree that is perfect for Rosie to climb. Now it is her job to gather food for the family—which will soon include four new babies.

In her new home Rosie meets a frog who is going to teach her to swim. After their first meeting, the frog asks, “‘So, what are you really?’” “‘I am Rosie the Raven!’” Rosie squawks loudly. Then she goes home and climbs up to her nest in the tree, looking forward to tomorrow.


Image copyright Helga Bansch, courtesy of

Helga Bansch’s Rosie the Raven, bathed in tones of beige and black and punctuated with the red of Rosie’s cap and dress, is a quiet, but powerful book of what it means to be different and who defines that difference. The story of the Raven family is all the more eloquent and compelling for its being told through straight narration and not as a fairy tale or fable. The moment when Rosie looks at herself through others’ eyes, but quickly rejects the notion that her identity as a Raven is based on her having wings or feathers as well as her decision to stay with Mama and Papa affirms the idea that the true self is found within.

Bansch’s little Ravens are endearing as they frolic in the nest under the watchful and loving eyes of Mama and Papa. Rosie exudes a strong sense of confidence and happiness that readers will respond to. Bansch’s pages are a mix of panels, collages, and beautiful two-page spreads that give the book a distinctive look and feel. Fields and mountains are created from maps and bits of printed material in a variety of languages that emphasizes the book’s theme. Rosie the Raven could easily become a child’s favorite for bedtime or quiet story time and would be a wonderful addition to home as well as school libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

annick press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1554518340 (Austrian edition Die Rabenrosa: 978-3702658748)

To view more books and artwork by Helga Bansch, visit her website!

Check out more books for children and young adults at annick press!

Family Fun Day Activity


Home is Where Your Heart Is Coloring Pages

Apartments Coloring Page

Bungalow Coloring Page