November 21 – National Entrepreneurs’ Day

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About the Holiday

Instituted in 2010, today’s holiday celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in so many people and that helps advance knowledge and technology, solve problems, and make life better. The third Tuesday of November has been set aside to honor those thinkers and inventors of the past as well as to encourage those now working to see their ideas come to fruition. With their supple minds and unique way of looking at the world, children are natural entrepreneurs, as today’s book shows!

Norton and Alpha

By Kristyna Litten

 

Norton was a very particular kind of collector. He loved finding the kinds of things most people threw away. “Battered wheels, rusty cogs, broken springs…and best of all were the things Norton didn’t have a name for.” Nearly everywhere he went, Norton found useful things. He took them all home and “made the most amazing inventions.”

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Copyright Kristyna Litten, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

One day Norton found a little springy thing that he added “to his latest project.” It was the perfect final touch, and Norton named his invention Alpha. Alpha accompanied Norton on all of his hunts, following “his little robot nose down unknown paths.” He was small enough to get into all those places Norton couldn’t reach—ones where amazing items lurked.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-norton-and-alpha-collecting-things

Copyright Kristyna Litten, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

One day “Alpha’s nose felt slightly odd. It tickled and tingled and led him to something very unusual.” Norton had no idea what it was, but he took it along home. In his workshop he tested it in all of his usual ways, but this object didn’t react in any way familiar. In fact, the longer Norton had it, the less useful it appeared to be until Norton finally threw it out the window. As it fell it scattered bits of itself all over the ground.

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Copyright Kristyna Litten, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

As Norton and Alpha cleaned up, “they found a little round something their mysterious discovery had left behind.” Norton placed it in a jar just in case. The next day rain kept Norton and Alpha indoors, and the next day after that it was too hot to go out. Friday turned out to be just right, so Norton “oiled their joints and got everything ready for a long day’s collecting.”

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Copyright Kristyna Litten, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

When they opened the doors they were greeted by the most beautiful, colorful sight. Norton and Alpha ran and played in the field and collected samples of all “the blue, pink, and orange things.” At home Norton didn’t experiment on them or even try to figure out what they were. Instead, he just used them to decorate his shelves, pipes, boxes, and bins because they “made him smile.”

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Copyright Kristyna Litten, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Kristyna Litten’s inventive story of a little robot who loves to tinker and collect odd objects and his constant companion, Alpha, will charm children who are always intrigued by the unknown and ready to incorporate found objects into their world. The idea that industrious efforts can coexist with the simple enjoyment of the earth’s beauty may inspire kids and adults to also appreciate those special “found moments” that can bring much happiness to life.

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Copyright Kristyna Litten, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Litten’s Norton and Alpha are adorable friends, inviting little readers into their lab, where kids will love lingering over the gears, dials, machines, and shelves stacked with recognizable springs, tacks, nails, washers, hooks, hinges and other items. Readers will “Ooh!” and “Ahh!” when Norton and Alpha open their doors—accomplished through a marvelous double gate-fold spread—and the once-bleak landscape has been transformed into a gorgeous field by the flowers Norton has helped to grow. Children will also enjoy following what happens to the little seed Norton has saved as it is watered by an undetected leak in a nearby bottle and germinated on that very hot day.

With its cute illustrations and inspiring story, Norton and Alpha would be a much-asked-for book on any child’s home bookshelf and a terrific lead-in to inventive classroom playtimes or units.

Ages 4 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1454924999

Discover more about Kristyna Litten, her art, and her books on her blog.

National Entrepreneur’s Day Activity

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Inventor’s Box

 

For young inventors or tinkerers, having bits and pieces and some tools to work with all stored in one place encourages creative thinking. Filling the drawers of a tool case, a tool box, or a tackle box with items like springs, brads, wheels, hinges, plastic piping, pieces of wood, glue, tape, and simple tools can spark a child’s imagination. Take your child along to the craft or hardware store and choose items together!

Picture Book Review

April 1—International Pillow Fight Day

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About the Holiday

Pillow fights are fluffy fun that’s more about laughing than combat. Once only enjoyed by siblings, at sleepovers, and to delay bedtime, pillow fights have become the stuff (stuffing?) of mass swatfests worldwide. So grab your pillow, swing with all your might, and let the feathers fly!

SnoozeFest

Written by Samantha Berger | Illustrated by Kristyna Litten

 

Snuggleford Cuddlebun is the sleepiest sloth in Snoozeville. “Now that sloth can sleep, for a month at a go. / The few time she rises, she moves in slo-mo.” But there is one annual event that sets her heart—and her feet—racing enough to leave her cozy bed—SnoozeFest. “This is the place where the best sleepers go / to snore their way through this naptacular show.” So Snuggleford packs up her her jammies and teddy, her pillow and book and joins the other great sleepers on the bus that will take them to the NuzzleDome.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

As Snuggleford looks for the best place to camp, she sees that she’s in good company. The wildcats, wombats, koala bears, brown bats, squirrels, and armadillos are also setting up tents, laying down sleeping bags, and lounging in hammocks—which is Snuggleford’s favorite too. After finding her spot “she strolls through the stands / for posters and T-shirts / and swag from the bands.” Soon it’s time for the show to begin with the P. J. Parade, where sleepwear from such designers as Diane von FirstInBed and Louis Futon are on full display.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

“Then all the big spotlights dim down in the Dome, / and everyone turns on their night-light from home.” The first band to perform is the “Chamomile Rage” and although the crowd is half asleep by the middle of the first song, “the snoozers yawn deeply, yet still clap for more. / The second act’s also a guaranteed snore.” Then “a poet named Burrows recites a haiku / and imitates rain with his didgeridoo.”  More acts take the stage—the Nocturnal Nesters and the Quiet Quartet, Tranquility Trio and the Drowsy Duet. Yes, “These are the best bands for deep relaxation, / followed by Sweet Dreams and Deep Hiber-Nation.”

For Snuggleford Cuddlebun the concert is all she could want. In fact, “Several days later the SnoozeFest is done. / And who’s still asleep? Why it’s Miss Cuddlebun.” She folds up her things, tosses away her trash, and rides the bus back home. There she climbs into bed and shuts her eyes and dreams of next year’s SnoozeFest.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

Samantha Berger’s SnoozeFest is one of the cutest, most original bedtime books around. With wit and charm Berger makes full use of the festival setting and experience. Her inspired rhymes, adorable band names, and atmosphere that combines just the right amount of excitement and slumber-inducing lilt, will delight kids of all ages and adults as well. From Snoozeville to the NuzzleDome to a full verse of blanket nicknames, Berger has come up with the “wumphiest, coziest, comfiest” words to send little ones off to dreamland.

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Image copyright Kristyn Litten. courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

Krisyna Litten’s illustrations, designed with a vintage-yet-modern air and color palette, are the perfect accompaniment to Berger’s story. Anyone would love to join Litten’s sweet Snuggleford and the other “great sleepers” at SnoozeFest. Snuggleford’s endearing slothy smile and the joyful camaraderie of the other festival goers invite kids to explore every page. The crowd consists of loveable moles, koalas, raccoons, bears, foxes, porcupines, and more adult and baby animals enjoying the show.  Two-page spreads of the darkened festival grounds lit by nightlights and starlight are gorgeous, peaceful landscapes of blues and gold that set a sleepy tone for little readers.

SnoozeFest would be a very welcome addition to any child’s bookshelf for story times and bed times, and would make a perfect gift.

Ages 3 – 7

Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2015 | ISBN 978-0803740464

You’ll have plenty of fun discovering lots of books, Nickelodeon videos, and more creative stuff by Samantha Berger on her website!

You can catch up with Krisyna Litten on her blog!

You won’t want to snooze through this book trailer!

International Pillow Fight Day Activity

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Perfect Pillow Case

 

Decorating your own pillow case gives you distinction during any pillow fight—and guarantees sweet dreams while sleeping too!

Supplies

  • White, or single-color pillow case
  • Fabric markers
  • Cardboard or newspaper

Directions

  1. Iron or smooth out the pillow case
  2. Insert cardboard or newspapers inside the pillow case to keep markers from bleeding through
  3. Design and color your pillow case with the markers

Picture Book Review