January 23 – National Pie Day

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About the Holiday

National Pie day is perfect for…well…pie! Whether you love fruity pies or meat pies, pies with lattice tops or crumble crusts this day is for you! There’s only one true way to celebrate—make or buy your favorite kind of pie and enjoy! 

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems

Written by J. Patrick Lewis | Illustrated by Michael Slack

 

There’s something about poetry with its iambic pentameters, feet, meter, sonnets, couplets, and more countable qualities that just seems to lend itself to math. J. Patrick Lewis must have thought so too because he penned a clever volume of poems inspired by well-known verses. First up is Edgar Allan Poe’s Apple Pie, which is inspired by “The Raven” and begins: “Once upon a midnight rotten, / Cold, and rainy, I’d forgotten / All about the apple pie / Still cooling from the hour before.” But now, even though there is a “knocking, knocking…” at the door, the narrator takes up a knife and slices the night with a cutting question, only to hear the stranger’s mysterious clue “‘Never four!’”

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Image copyright Michael Slack, text copyright J. Patrick Lewis. Courtesty slackart.com

All the narrator of Emily Dickenson’s Telephone Book, inspired by “My Life Closed Twice Before its Close,” wants to do after napping is to find a certain phone number in her directory, but where is it? She knew where it was before she went to bed—in fact its “two opposing pages / that added up to 113— / Were smudged around the edges—” but now she’s so confused…. Can you help?

Those who think that “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” has no link to underwear possibly are not aware of Robert Frost’s Boxer Shorts, in which the lilt and the rhythm of the original are perfectly matched in a priceless, pricey puzzle that ends “My tightie whities look so sad. / My tightie whities look so sad.” How can you resist?

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Image copyright Michael Slack, text copyright J. Patrick Lewis. Courtesty slackart.com

You may know about William Carlos Williams’s red wheelbarrow and where it stood, but what if that handy implement was replaced by a… “fifteen-inch square pizza” that is missing “nineteen and a half pieces”?! Well, there may not be any rainwater glaze, but it sure does make for a delicious arithmetic conundrum in William Carlos Williams’s Pizza.

You’re eating up these poems, aren’t you? Well, next come three poems in which termites, sharks, and a “hippo-po-tah-tum” do a bit of nibbling of their own. The fun multiplies in Ogden Nash’s Buggy Rugs, where 313 little wood chompers hide; in John Ciardi’s Shark Dentist, in which you’ll want to brace yourself for the ending; and in Shel Silverstein’s Hippo-po-tah-tum, which is fractionally frightening.

These seven poems are added to seven more, plus two pages full of “prose about the poets,” to equal one smart, tantalizing poetic brainteaser of a book!

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Image copyright Michael Slack, text copyright J. Patrick Lewis. Courtesty slackart.com

Patrick Lewis, who served as the US Children’s Poet Lauriat from 2011 to 2013, has honored 16 of the world’s most beloved poets the way kids love best—with humor. Adapting the original poem’s rhythm, rhyme scheme, and length with a dash of the ridiculous and a dose of numerical heft, Lewis has created poems that will have kids giggling while they ponder the answers to the lyrical math problems the verses pose. While arithmetic aficionados will gobble these poems up, there’s plenty for language arts lovers to sink their teeth into too. Each witty poem just begs to be compared to the original, which would make for a fun afternoon at home or lesson in the classroom. Admit it—aren’t you just the tiniest bit curious what Edward Lear’s “There was an Old Man with a Beard” has to do with an 80-foot hotdog?

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Image copyright Michael Slack Lewis, courtesty slackart.com

Michael Slack gets things off and running on the first spread, where a sharp-taloned blackbird stands over a knife that’s plunged into the center of a pie. While readers of Walt Whitman’s Web-Covered Shoe may wonder exactly how long the boot has been untouched, they’ll be more distracted by the number of eyes on two very fierce-looking spiders. And there may be nothing more diverting than the potbellied cowboy wearing only his tightie whities as he waits for his snowflake, flame, spaceship, and other uniquely decorated boxers to dry. Slack illustrates each poem with distinctive, vibrant images that ramp up the humor and give every page an individual look.

Answers to the math problems proposed are included with every poem, and brief biographies accompanied by tiny portraits, reveal information about the poets represented and their work.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie is a fantastic way to get kids interested in math and poetry. The brain ticklers, as well as the wonderful wordplay and illustrations, make this a book that should be on classroom shelves and would be welcome in home libraries too.

Ages 6 – 9

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2015 (paperback) | ISBN 978-0544456129

To learn more about J. Patrick Lewis, his books, and resources for kids and teachers, visit his website!

View a gallery of books, illustration, and other art by Michael Slack on his website!

National Pie Day Activity

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Mixed Up Cherry Pies Puzzle

 

Each winner of a poetry contest were supposed to get two identical pies, but they got mixed up! Can you find the matching pies in this printable Mixed Up Cherry Pies Puzzle and save the day?

Picture Book Review

January 18 – Thesaurus Day

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate that most marvelous, stupendous, spectacular, cool, awe-inspiring, remarkableand—one from my early youth—groovy book, the thesaurus! Without its incredible cross-referenced lists of synonyms and antonyms, the world would be much more boring, dull, lackluster, monotonous place. Today, spice up your speech and writing with the perfect word to express all the nuances of life!

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Written by Jen Bryant | Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

 

While just a young child, Peter, along with his mother, his uncle, and his baby sister Annette, travel to their new home following the death of his father. It would not be his first move, and in the absence of long-time friends, Peter found companionship in books. When he was eight years old, he began writing his own book titled: Peter, Mark, Roget. His Book. But this was not a book of stories or even one story; it was a book of lists. The first list was divided in two. On one side were the Latin words he knew; on the other were their definitions.

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Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Jen Bryant. Courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Peter’s mother hovered and worried over her son, and he always told her he was “fine.” “Although, to be honest, Peter thought, fine wasn’t quite the right word.” As the years went by, Peter added lists to his book, prompting his mother to complain about his constant “scribbling.” But Peter looked at his lists differently. “Words, Peter learned, were powerful things. And when he put them in long, neat rows, he felt as if the world itself clicked into order.”

As a teenager Peter was shy, preferring to wander the London gardens alone, “making lists of all the plants and insects,” as in one of his favorite science books by Linnaeus. His “mother didn’t approve, and Peter told her not to worry—but “perhaps worry wasn’t quite the right word. What was the right word? Peter began a new list: Worry, fret, grieve, despair, intrude, badger, annoy, plague, provoke, harass. Enough to drive one mad. How wonderful it felt to find just the right word.”

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Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Jen Bryant. Courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

An idea crept into Peter’s mind for a book where “all the ideas in the world could be found in one place,” and people could “find the best word, the one that really fit.” When Peter was 14 he entered medical school in Edinburgh, Scotland. Upon graduation at 19, his uncle told him that patients would be wary of a doctor so young. To gain a bit of experience and maturity, Peter became a tutor to two teenage boys.

At last Peter set up his medical practice in Manchester, England, where he took care of the factory workers, who “were poor and often sick.” At night Peter worked on his book of lists, and in 1805 he declared it finished. “It had about one hundred pages, one thousand ideas, and listed more than fifteen thousand words!” Eventually, Peter moved back to London where he joined science societies and attended lectures. “Before long, he was asked to give lectures too,” and once-shy Peter astonished his audiences with his knowledge of math, magnetism, and other scientific subjects. He even invented a portable chess set.

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Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Jen Bryant. Courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

When Peter was 45 years old, he married Mary Hobson, and they had two children, Kate and John. As he grew older, he visited fewer patients, but he continued to take walks and work on his lists. While some other writers had published their own word lists to help people “to speak and to write more politely,” Kate and John “thought their father’s book was much better. Peter agreed.” For three years he rewrote his book. “He made it larger, more organized, and easier to use. Long ago Peter had discovered the power of words. Now he believed that everyone should have this power—everyone should be able to find the right word whenever they needed it.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-right-word-roget-lecturing

Image copyright Melissa Sweet, text copyright Jen Bryant. Courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

“In 1852, Roget published his Thesaurus, a word that means ‘treasure house’ in Greek.” It was an instant best seller, and Peter became a popular author. But he never stopped making lists.

Following the text, a timeline of principal events in Peter’s life as well as world events allow readers to better understand the historical period in which Peter worked. Extensive Author’s and Illustrator’ Notes also expand on Roget’s biography, and resources for further reading and research are included.

Jen Bryant’s biography of a brilliant boy who grew up to give the world its most fascinating and comprehensive collection of word lists, is a spritely telling of Roget’s life and revelation into his personality, which was perfectly suited to his scientific and written accomplishments. Children will appreciate Roget’s reactions to his mother’s worries as well as the message in his well-rounded pursuit of science and writing. Through Bryant’s captivating and lyrical storytelling, children will be inspired by Roget’s journey from shy child to much-accomplished adult.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-right-roget-at-home

Image copyright Melissa Sweet, courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Melissa Sweet beguiles readers with her mixed media, collage, and watercolor illustrations that are as jam-packed with ideas, images, portraits, and typography as Roget’s thesaurus is full of words. In the early pages describing Peter’s childhood, the pages contain simple framed pictures of Roget and his family. As he grows, however, his lists of words are transformed into vibrant artwork that jostles for position from corner to corner of the pages. In the midst of these, delicate watercolors portray Peter as he strolls through a garden, takes his young charges to Paris, treats his patients, lectures, marries, and finally publishes his thesaurus. A special mention must be made of the typography, which at times in the text runs down the center of the page in one- or two-word lines, mirroring Roget’s love of lists, and in the illustrations presents the myriad synonyms in a mixture of colorful block letters, fine print, and calligraphy.

For bibliophiles, wordsmiths, scientists, and history buffs, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is just the right book for home libraries.

Ages 6 – 18

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2014 | ISBN 978-0802853851

Discover more about Jen Bryant and her books as well as news, contests, and events, visit her website!

Learn more about Melissa Sweet and her books and have fun with the downloadable activities you’ll find on her website!

Watch this The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus book trailer!

Thesaurus Day Activity

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Word Words Word Search Puzzle

 

When you’re looking for just the right word, where do you go? To the thesaurus of course! Can you find the 25 synonyms for “Word” in this printable Word Words Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

November 22 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

Picture Book Month is an international literacy inititive put together by a group of authors and illustrators to raise awareness of the importance of print picture books. Througout the world libraries, schools, booksellers, authors, illustrators, and those who love picture books celebrate the wonder of this art form enjoyed by children and adults. The complexity of picture books is astounding. They contain some of the most beautiful art and compelling stories being created today. To learn more about the importance of the picture book visit Picture Book Month: A Celebration! to find daily posts by authors, illustrators, and experts in the field as well as fun activities!

The Whisper

By Pamela Zagarenski

 

A little girl loves stories and the magical realms they can take her to. One day while waiting for school to be dismissed, she spies a book on a shelf. Her teacher allows her to take it home with her, and the little girl happily runs off with it when the clock strikes 3:00. On the way home, she doesn’t notice that all the letters are escaping from the book or that a wily fox is catching them in a net.

At home she secludes herself in her room, excited to read the mysterious book. She turns the pages, awed by the beautiful pictures. But by the time she has finished, she has tears in her eyes. “Where were the words? Where were the stories?” The girl flips through the book again, but this time she hears a small whisper: “Dear little girl, don’t be disappointed. You can imagine the words. You can imagine the stories.”

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Copyright Pamela Zagarenski, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The whisper seems so knowing that the girl does at it suggests. She turns to the first page where a blue bear followed by a beekeeper walks under a honeycomb sun toward a brown bear. The girl stares at the picture and thinks of a title: Blue Bear’s Visit. Her story begins: “Blue Bear arrived on the first day of spring. He promised…”

Warming to the idea of creating stories, the girl examines the second picture. She notices the same white rabbit that was in the first picture. In the foreground a “magnificent ox” is listening to a man whispering into its large, soft ear. The Secret, the little girl titles this story, which starts: “Mr. Ox, you must please promise not to tell anyone, but we need your help. Last week…”

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Copyright Pamela Zagarenski, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

With the third picture the words tumble out more easily, forming sentences that give life to the massive white elephant, regal lion, and that rabbit again who are traveling the sea in a long, open boat. The Quest, she calls it. In Tigers Prayer, preparations are being made: tea is brewing, a clown with a pointed hat plays his accordion, a windhorse jumps through hoops, and the rabbit rides a golden ring as a lion hears what Tiger has to say. A Birthday Party comes next, and it seems Pan has planned a very secret party. An owl perches in the crook of a tree asking for the password with a “Hoo, Who?” which is answered quickly because the vanilla cake with raspberry filling and vanilla cream frosting holding 6 candles must be delivered.

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Copyright Pamela Zagarenski, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Magical Cloak sees the little girl’s imagination truly take flight as she decides the man in the “elaborate coat” is a wizard or magician whose bubbles come to life once released from the blower. Enormous whales now fill the harbor. They are beautiful, but something must be done….Next, hurry to meet the owl! He is picking up passengers at midnight. But what does the golden key in his beak open? Only the story The Golden Key locked in the little girl’s mind will tell.

Hours go by as the little girl creates tales for each picture in the book. As the night grows late, she sleeps, carried into slumber on dreams woven from the pictures and stories she imagined. When she wakes up, the girl wishes to spend more time with her new friends, but it’s time for school so she gathers up the book and hurries away.

On the path to school she meets a fox who is carrying a bag. “Excuse me, little girl,” says the fox. “I believe I have the words to your book.” The fox then explains how he caught the words as they spilled from the pages the day before. The fox gives her his parcel, but asks for a favor. The girl is happy to oblige and lets the fox stand on her shoulders to reach a bunch of grapes dangling from a nearby vine.

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Copyright Pamela Zagarenski, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The girl rushes into school and apologizes for being late. She relates the story of the fox and the words and the magical night she has spent making up tales for the pictures in the book. “I have so many stories to tell you,” says the girl to her teacher. “‘I can’t want to hear,’” the teacher replies with a smile.”

Opening a book by Pamela Zagarenski is to fall into an alternate realm of such beauty and imagination that you forget the real world exists.  Her paintings are composed of rich, regal hues swirling with images and designs that overlap and float to create the kind of experience only the deepest, most complex dreams allow. The characters and details follow page to page uniting the pictures and, subtly, the stories the little girl discovers in them: The teapot, once introduced, waits under a tree on the next page and rides the waves of the whale-filled sea in the next. The bees and the rabbit are constant companions on each spread, and the animals will fill the reader with awe.

The little girl’s imagined stories are tantalizing with just the right mix of the mysterious and the tangible to entice readers to add more. The frame of the Aesop Fable The Fox and the Grapes is inspired and could lead to a conversation about how “life is what you make it.”

The Whisper is a book readers will want to linger over and dip into again and again, and would be especially fun on those days when there’s “nothing” to do. It makes a beautiful gift for any occasion and would be a welcome addition to any home library.

Ages 4 – 9 (this book would also appeal to adults)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015 | ISBN 978-0544416864

Picture Book Month Activity

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I Have the Reading Bug Book Plate

 

Do you want to let everyone know which books are yours? Or just declare your love of books? Then display this printable I Have the Reading Bug Book Plate in your books. on your wall, or in your locker!

Picture Book Review

November 15 – I Love to Write Day

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About the Holiday

I Love to Write Day was created by Delaware-based author John Riddle in 2002. He wanted to share his passion for writing with others and encourage them to pick up a pen or sit down at the computer and compose a poem, a short story, a journal entry, or whatever kind of written expression stirs their hearts. It’s fitting that today’s holiday comes in the middle of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, when novelists and would-be novelists strive to begin and finish a complete novel (well, at least a first draft) in one month. If you hold ambitions to write, why not start today? As today’s book shows, you’ll be part of a very honored, long-standing tradition!

I Am a Story

By Dan Yaccarino

 

Sometimes it seems that from nothing and out of nowhere a story comes. And yet storytelling also seems to be an inborn trait, passed down from generation to generation and discovered in daydreams, alternate realities, those “what if?” moments. In Dan Yaccarino’s book, a story relates its history, beginning with our oldest ancestors. “I am a story,” the narrator states. “I was told around a campfire. Then painted on cave walls.” The story travels over years and across miles, changing the way it is told but not its impact.

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Image copyright Dan Yaccarino, courtesy of harpercollins.com

Men inscribed words on papyrus; women used woodblocks, brushes, and ink to bring them to life. Tales were stitched into legend on beautiful tapestries that brightened dank castle walls, and they were transcribed in gilded lettering “into big books to illuminate minds.” Then a man discovered how to print the story so many people could read it, which led to the story being “acted out onstage.”

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Image copyright Dan Yaccarino, courtesy of harpercollins.com

Stories were bound into books and families began to collect them, creating “vast private libraries.” Then public libraries opened, and now stories are available for everyone—even in places so remote that the books are brought on donkeys, by camel, or even atop elephants. There are tiny libraries—not much bigger than a birdhouse; vending machines that dispense stories; and old telephone booths that have been transformed with shelves of books.

The story reveals its power to make “people frightened, excited, sad, and happy.” Some have felt and still feel that the story is dangerous, so they have “censored, banned, and burned” it. But the story “did not die.” Millions of people all over the world are inspired by the story every day. “I can go with you everywhere,” the story says, “and will live forever. I am a story.”

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Image copyright Dan Yaccarino, courtesy of harpercollins.com

Bibliophiles young and old will love the simply told and expressively illustrated timeline of the story from early oral traditions until today. Between the first page where ancient peoples interpreted the constellations and the last where a family of today tells stories around a campfire under the starry sky, the various forms that stories take are described with vivid, full-bleed pages of people toiling over manuscripts, inventing methods of mass production, and building collections all to ensure that the words continue no matter what changes occur.

Kids will love lingering over the details on each page, and every page could lead to a fun afternoon of discovering more about each stage in the story’s development. For teachers and homeschoolers I Am a Story is a wonderful jumping off book for an English or History unit, and it makes a beautiful addition to any library.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062411068

You know Dan Yaccarino from his TV shows The Backyardigans, Oswald and others as well as his many, many books. You can learn more about him and his work on his website!

Enjoy this I Am a Story book trailer!

I Love to Write Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-history-of-the-story-bookmark

The History of the Story Bookmark

 

From cave paintings and hieroglyphics to the printing press and the computer, people have ensured that their thoughts were not forgotten. Here’s a printable The History of the Story Bookmark plus a blank one for you to fill in. Use them to mark your favorite stories!

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review

October 21 – Count Your Buttons Day

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About the Holiday

First designed in Germany in the 13th century, buttonholes revolutionized clothing, bags, and other objects that required closing and inspired a new art form. Designers and manufacturers took buttons to heart, making them not only functional but beautiful. Created from iridescent shells, sparkling glass, bone, and other materials, these little canvases were infused with paintings, intricate carvings, astonishing color, and more eye-catching features. Today, buttons still lend distinction and personality to outfits for all ages.

Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes

Written by Alice Schertle | Illustrated by Petra Mathers

 

There may be no more outward demonstration of someone’s personality than the clothes they wear. In Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes kids’ closets become the muse for Alice Schertle’s perky and humorous poems told from the unique perspective of shoelaces, t-shirts, pajamas, hats, and more garrulous garments.

In Bob’s Bicycle Helmet, this protective piece of equipment introduces itself: “Bob’s on his bike / and I’m on Bob. / I’m Bob’s helmet. / I’m on the job.” And even though “Bob skins his elbow. / Bob scrapes his knee. / Bob doesn’t hurt his head— / Bob’s got me.”

In Jennifer’s Shoes her new blue pair “…are learning the ways / of Jennifer’s world: / the way that Jennifer’s toes are curled, / the softness of carpet, / the steepness of stair, / the curve of the rung /  under Jennifer’s chair, / the hole in the heel / of Jennifer’s socks… / We are Jennifer’s shoes, we came home in a box.”

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Image copyright Petra Mathers, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Before bedtime Joshua’s Jammies are quite adamant about who they belong to: “We are the jammies that Joshua wears, / not jammies for penguins, / not jammies for bears, / not jammies for tigers with knots in their tails, / not jammies for whales…. / We don’t fit iguanas, / we’re not for the gnu, / we won’t suit the llamas / (they never wear blue)….”

Poor Tanya’s Old T-Shirt just doesn’t understand: “I live in a bucket shoved under the stair. / They call me a dust rag! / I don’t think it’s fair. / I’m still the same size as when I was new. / “I didn’t shrink— / it was Tanya who GREW…. / You’ll never, not ever / hear anyone say, / ‘She’s gotten too big, she’s just in the way, / let’s dust the piano with Tanya today.’”

While Rick’s Wool Sweater reveals that Rick wears a t-shirt underneath to be “warm on the OUTside / soft on the IN,”  it also takes a bit of pride in its particular talent: “To tell the truth it tickles me / to be a little prickly, / especially around his neck / and under his chin.”

Other poems reveal the inner thoughts of Bertie’s Shoelaces, Violet’s Hiking Hat, Harvey’s Golashes, Emily’s Undies, Wanda’s Swimsuit, Jack’s Soccer Jersey, Jamelia’s Dress-up Clothes, and a Hand-me-down Sweatshirt.

Just in time for Halloween Clyde’s Costume a gingham sheet is pleased to see that it makes a most distinguished ghost after being taken from the guest room bed and given eyes: “Now I’m ghastly and ghoulish and ghostly, / a will-o’-the-wispy fright. / Pardon my pride, but with Clyde inside, I’m the hit of Halloween night.”

Of course, we can’t forget that today is dedicated to buttons and to celebrate, Bill’s Blue Jacket is thrilled to be lifted off the hook: “Arm in the left sleeve, / arm in the right. / Button up! Button up! Button up / TIGHT! / Snap! Goes the collar / under Bill’s chin. / Everybody holler, / BILL’S ALL IN! / Everybody clap your hands, / everybody shout, / Bill’s got his jacket on, / LET’S GO OUT!

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Image copyright Petra Mathers, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Alice Schertle brings a joyful buoyancy to the rhythms of her innovative poems, making each as distinctive as the article of clothing and the person who wears it. Her insights are surprising and will give kids a new perspective on their world and the secret life of the clothes they present to it.

Petra Mathers’ exuberant and adorable pigs, moles, alligators, mice, dogs, one cool-dude otter, and one fuzzy-headed ostrich lend the perfect touch of humor and setting to depict the stars of Schertle’s poems. Harvey the pig exuberantly kicks up mud, Emily happily watches her vibrant and fancy undies flap on the breezy clothesline, a drowsy Joshua in his blue jammies says goodnight to his toys, and Tanya’s old pink t-shirt remembers better days while hanging on the edge of her green bucket. Mathers’ beautiful watercolors also portray a cloudy-day ocean, trick-or-treaters heading out at dusk, a refreshingly cold pool, and other landscapes.

Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes makes a fun story-time read, a great companion at the laundromat, or an entertaining pre- or post-clothes-shopping pick-me-up.

Ages 4 – 7

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015 | ISBN 978-0544022690

Count Your Buttons Day Activity

CPB - Button Coat

Pin the Button on the Coat Game

 

Pin the Button on the Coat is a fun game you can make yourself and play anytime! It’s great for a button-themed party or on any day that you’re holed up and wanting something to do! The game is played like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” and the object is to get the buttons lined up as close to the center of the coat as possible. Have fun!

Supplies

  • Fleece or felt of your choice of several favorite colors, 2 pieces of 8 ½” x 11” to make the coat and smaller pieces or scraps to make buttons
  • Fabric glue
  • Scissors
  • Black marker
  • Clothes hanger
  • Clothes pins

CPB - Button Coat II

Directions

  1. Cut out a coat shape from the fleece
  2. Cut out a collar from a different color fleece (optional)
  3. With the fabric glue, attach the sleeves to the edge of the coat, and the collar to the top of the coat.
  4. Let dry
  5. Cut circles to represent buttons from the other colors of fleece or felt, as many as you need
  6. With the marker make dots to represent holes in the “buttons”
  7. When the glue on the coat is dry, attach it to the clothes hanger with the clothespins
  8. Have fun playing!

Picture Book Review

 

October 13 – It’s National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

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 About the Holiday

National Popcorn Poppin’ Month has been celebrated in October for more than 30 years and was made official in 1999 by then Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. With its salty crunchiness and that enticing Pop Pop Pop rhythm, this snack is a favorite the world over. Its history goes back to the Aztecs and beyond. Early explorers of the 1500s wrote about native peoples roasting corn until it popped and described it as looking like a “white flower.” It was eaten and also strung for decoration.

Most people now eat popcorn with salt and butter, but can you imagine having it with milk? Way before Corn Flakes and Cheerios came on the scene people ate popcorn as cereal! And popcorn really became popular during the Great Depression, when it was one of the only treats people could afford. Why not pop up a batch and  read today’s reviewed  picture book. For more interesting popcorn facts and recipes visit www.popcorn.org.

The Popcorn Astronauts and Other Biteable Rhymes

Written by Deborah Ruddell | Illustrated by Joan Rankin

 

Each season has its much-anticipated delicacies and each food its particular fans. Winter offers hot drinks and cinnamony goodies; Spring ushers in fresh, juicy fruit; Summer requires icy-cold, refreshing treats; and Autumn settles in with warm, comforting meals and snacks. Year-round there are foods to delight the tummy and—in this fun collection of poems—the imagination. So let’s snuggle up on the couch and welcome The Arrival of the Popcorn Astronauts:

“The daring popcorn astronauts / are brave beyond compare— / they scramble into puffy suits / and hurtle through the air. / And when they land, we say hooray / and crowd around the spot / to salt the little astronauts / and eat them while they’re hot.”

Or perhaps those universally loved “Dazzlers of the Dinner Plate” and “Lunchroom Legends” that get their own tribute in Stand and Cheer for MAC and CHEESE! is just what you have in mind. When Winter drapes its icy blanket over the world, a special kind of steaming hot chocolate can always be found at The Cocoa Cabana where “On an ice-skating pond in the state of Montana, / there’s a little red tent called the Cocoa Cabana. Calling all skaters, the big and the small! / Marshmallow Peppermint Cocoa for all!

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Image copyright Joan Rankin, text copyright Deborah Ruddell. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Spring invites The Strawberry Queen and “You’ll know her the minute she enters the room / by the first little whiff of her spring time perfume / and her elegant suit—which is beaded and red— / and the leafy green crown on the top of her head. / Remember to bow and address her as Ma’am, but don’t say a word about strawberry jam.”

Thirsty? Then perhaps you would like A Smoothie Supreme with its very distinctive ingredients: “A whisper of pickle / is what I detect. / with glimmers of turnip / I didn’t expect”… “The mudpuddle splashes / are really delish, / and the finishing touch is that nubbin of fish!” Or maybe you’d like to learn How a Poet Orders a Shake, which goes in part: “‘A frosty cup of moonlight, please,’ / the poet murmurs, low. ‘As mushy as a mittenful / of slightly melted snow…’”

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Image copyright Joan Rankin, text copyright Deborah Ruddell. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Imaginative verses also transform a slice of watermelon into a lake complete with “a little fleet of small black boats”, introduce peaches with their “…sunset of beautiful colors / on the flannelpajamaty skin”, follow the Voyage of the Great Baked Potato Canoes that “…oozed with steam and sour cream. / They were loaded with bacon and chives. / But silverware was everywhere— / and they barely escaped with their lives”, and wonder about who will eat The Last Brownie, which is “As hard and square and rugged as a brownie made of stone.”

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Image copyright Joan Rankin, text copyright Deborah Ruddell. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Deborah Ruddell has included so many more wonderfully delicious, fresh, and surprising poems with clever takes on the foods that flavor our days. The rhymes flow with a sweet, easy rhythm and are as fun to say as they are to hear.

Joan Rankin’s vivid watercolor illustrations bring each poem to life with adorable characters, humorous details, and plenty of action. Her “healthy” gingerbread house set among a broccoli forest is a beautiful departure from the well-known original, a dapper Dracula swoops down on an unsuspecting sleeper, a mouse wields an axe over a crusty brownie, and impressionistic trees hold ripe apples. Kids will love lingering over the pages as they listen to each poem to capture every nuance.

The Popcorn Astronauts and Other Biteable Rhymes makes a fun take-along book for picnics, trips to the farmers market or orchard, and playground—or anywhere that a quick nibble of food would taste better with a “Biteable Rhyme.”

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster, New York, 2015 | ISBN 978-1442465558

Discover more books by Deborah Ruddell plus fun activity guides on her website!

National Popcorn Poppin’ Month Activity

CPB - popcorn1

Popcorn Blast-Off Game

 

The popcorn is flying! Can you catch it? This is a fun game to celebrate this most delicious month! And if you keep the popcorn socks, it will make a great quick activity for those times when you want to get up and move but just don’t know what to do.

Supplies

  • 6 pairs of girls socks – white
  • A large bag of cotton balls
  • Towel or small blanket

Directions

  1. Stuff the socks with a large handful of cotton balls (about 25)
  2. Knot the sock as you would a balloon and fold down the remaining ankle cuff
  3. Squish the sock to move the cotton balls until your sock looks like a piece of popcorn
  4. Players hold each end of the towel or side of the blanket so it sags
  5. Place popcorn in the middle of the towel or blanket
  6. On the count of 3, players pull tight on the towel or blanket
  7. Try to catch as many flying popcorn pieces in the towel or blanket as you can

Picture Book Review

October 10 – World Porridge Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday celebrates the history and origins of porridge, a food enjoyed around the world and Scotland’s national dish. Since 1996 the Scottish Highland Village of Carrbridge has hosted the World Porridge Making Championship, where culinary types from around the globe compete for the Golden Spurtle trophy and the honor of being named “World Porridge Making Champion.” In 2009 the championship event joined with Mary’s Meals, a charity based in Argyll Scotland that provides nutritional aid to children in developing countries. To celebrate today, why not mix up a batch of warm, delicious porridge. However you make it, a bowlful is just right!

Goldilocks and Just One Bear

By Leigh Hodgkinson

 

“Once upon a time there was this bear. One minute, he was strolling in the woods, all happy-go-lucky….The next minute, he didn’t have a crumb-of-a-clue where he was.” Somehow he, along with his tightly gripped spoon, had found his way to the big city. The bear didn’t like it: the lights were too bright, the streets were too noisy, and the bear’s legs had become too wobbly. He looked around at the “Wolf’s Clothing Boutique,” the “Three Little Piggies’ Bank, the “Gingerbread” stand, the “Glass Slippers” shoe store, and “The Ugly Sisters’ Beauty Parlor and decided to get away from it all. He took the elevator to the top floor of Snooty Towers, where he found a quiet place for a rest.

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Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

After “all that whooshy traveling,” the bear found that he was a mite hungry—hungry for porridge. He grabbed the first bowl he saw. “THIS porridge is too soggy,” he decided, slurping the water from the fish bowl. On the floor he found another bowl. “THIS porridge is too crunchy,” he said, spooning up a few cat nibbles. Next he tried the contents of a plate. “THIS porridge is a bit on the DRY side, but it’s better than nothing,” reasoned the bear.

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Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

Nice and full, the bear went in search of a place to rest. He sat on something too “ouchy,” something too “noisy,” and something that exploded in a million Styrofoam beads but was “just right.” The short respite was nice, but not enough for such a tired bear. He sought out a place to take a proper nap. The bathtub was “too frothy”; the fancy bed was “too pink”; but the bed with the leaf-print comforter was “just right.”

While he slept the bear dreamed of his cozy house in the woods until he was unceremoniously wakened by a very, very loud “‘SOMEBODY has been eating from my fishbowl!’”; a very loud “‘Somebody has been eating my dear little Pumpkin’s kitty nibbles!’”; and a not-as-loud, but just-as-disturbing “‘And somebody has been eating my toast. And they’ve eaten it all up!’”

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Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

The bear hid under the covers as the “daddy person” discovered his squished cactus, the “mommy person” comforted the cat, and the “little person” joyfully tossed Styrofoam peanuts in the air. It was only a matter of time before the daddy person laid eyes on the splashed about tub, the mommy person found her messy bed, and the little person pointed out the bear sleeping in her bed right that minute.

The bear took a look at the mommy person and thought she looked “slightly familiar.” At the same time the mommy person thought that three strikes in one house rang a bell. “‘Baby Bear?’” the mommy said. “‘Goldilocks?’” the bear gasped. Really, the reunion had been too long in coming! Goldilocks cooked up a big batch of porridge and the bear gobbled it down, because…well…you know! While the bear was glad to see that Goldilocks was “living so happily ever after,” he was just as glad to return home to the woods.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-goldilocks-and-just-one-bear-bed

Image and text copyright Leigh Hodgkinson, courtesy of nosycrow.com

Leigh Hodgkinson’s tale of Little Bear all grown up is a hilarious turn-about-is-fair-play take on the original Goldilocks story. The bear, out of his depth in the big city, makes a sweet and sympathetic character even as kids laugh at his misguided experiments in Goldilocks’ penthouse apartment. Hodgkinson’s story is full of wonderful, expressive language set off in animated type that enhances the look of the stylish pages.

Hodgkinson’s vibrant and airy mixed-media illustrations are visually stimulating—alive with the glitz and glamour of the city—and underscore the woodsy bear’s apprehension in his new surroundings. The signs and billboards along the busy thoroughfare allow Hodgkinson to include nods towards other favorite fairy tales, and the prints hanging on the wall of the Snooty Towers apartment hint at the identification of its owner.

Goldilocks and Just One Bear is a fun and funny fractured fairy tale, and one that kids will ask to have read over and over.

Ages 3 – 8

Nosy Crow Books, 2012 | ISBN 978-0763661724

Discover more about Leigh Hodgkinson and her books on her website Wonky Button!

World Porridge Day Activity

bear-maze

It’s Just Right! Maze

 

Sometimes a bear—or a person—will go to any lengths for a bowl of porridge. Can you find your way through this printable bear-shaped It’s Just Right Maze?

Picture Book Review