August 6 – It’s Get Ready for Kindergarten Month

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About the Holiday

Starting Kindergarten is a major milestone in any child’s life and ushers in exciting growth in knowledge, friendships, and experiences. But children don’t all perceive and process the world in the same way. Being sensitive to individual differences and talking about issues as they arise are just two of the ways that kids can making navigating school or any new experience easier. Sharing picture books like today’s book can help too! 

Thanks go out to Blue Slip Media and Two Lions for sending me a copy of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. I’m happy to be teaming with Blue Slip Media in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten

Written by Laura Purdie Salas | Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

 

Clover Kitty had just the life she liked. She was able to sit quietly by herself “knitting mittens. Nibbling kibble. Catnapping on a warm floor.” Sometimes she thought about having a friend, “but mostly, life was purrrrrfect.” One day, though, her mother reminded her that it was the first day of kittygarten. Images of mayhem and messes popped into Clover Kitty’s mind. She was not ready for that.

Before she knew it, however, “Clover found herself cowering in Ms. Snappytail’s classroom” amid loud noises, blaring colors, and the glaring sun. Then she felt a tap on the shoulder. She flinched at the touch. A kitty introduced himself as Oliver and smiled at her. Just then Ms. Snappytail flicked the lights on and off and rang a bell to get the class’s attention. Clover closed her eyes and covered her ears. She cringed at having to sit in a crowded circle to hear a story.

“At recess, Oliver came over and asked softly, ‘Do. you want to seesaw with me?'” But before she could answer, Clover was swept up in a “squealing tornado” of kitties playing tag. Her “heart sank.” Lunchtime was just as chaotic, and when Oliver offered her a box of juice, she clawed at it until it sprang a leak. All Clover wanted was a nap.

When nap time came, though, she could only smell Ms. Snappytail’s perfume, and the scratchiness of her mat kept her awake. “School felt nine lives long. Maybe ten.” When the class had to line up and parade through the hallways with costumes on, Clover finally broke down in a tantrum and ran out the door. By the time she got home, she was soaked from a passing rain shower.

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Image copyright Hiroe Nakata, 2020, text copyright Laura Purdie Salas, 2020. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Her mother dried Clover off and snuggled with her on the sofa until she fell asleep. The next day, Clover felt sick and Mama let her stay home from school. In the afternoon, Oliver stopped by to say that the class missed her. Mama assured him that Clover would be back the next day, but on Wednesday Clover said she still felt sick. 

After school, Oliver visited again, but when Mama let him in to say hi to Clover, she was nowhere to be found. When Oliver left, Clover felt relieved, but “a hollow twinge twanged in her chest.” Thursday came and Clover was feeling better, but not well enough to go back to school. She sat on the seesaw in her back yard and thought that maybe it would be fun to play with a friend.

On Friday, Clover was ready to return to kittygarten. But today she brought along some “survival gear.” For the glaring lights, she wore sunglasses; to muffle the noise, she brought earmuffs; and to enjoy circle time and nap time, she had her own rug. During the day, she took turns between playing and having alone time. At lunch she concentrated on her meal, and at nap time she slept close – but not too close – to Oliver.

While the day “wasn’t purrrrrect,” Clover came home with stories for Mama. She went to school all the next week and found that kittygarten got easier every day, especially with the help of her new friend Oliver. Kittygarten can still be like riding the seesaw, but now there are definitely more ups than downs.

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Image copyright Hiroe Nakata, 2020, text copyright Laura Purdie Salas, 2020. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Linda Purdie Salas perfectly captures the emotions and fears of a sensory-sensitive child through Clover’s thoughts, actions, and experiences. Her descriptive language (that also includes kid-favorite puns) and direct vocabulary serve two important purposes. First, they allow children for whom light, sound, touch, and other sensory experiences are intensified to see themselves portrayed with understanding. Second, they give other kids a glimpse into how their sensory-sensitive friends and classmates perceive the world around them. Through Oliver, Salas models the gentle and caring behavior that makes a day easier and inclusive for sensory-sensitive kids. Salas’s depiction of Clover’s grabbing the juice box, crying during nap time, and tantrum that precipitates her flight from school provide readers with examples of the feeling of a loss of control that many sensory-sensitive or hesitant kids experience in certain situations. Clover’s return to kindergarten with gear that will help her navigate her day, gives all children an opportunity to discuss issues that may bother them as well as how they might help make their classroom or other area a welcoming and pleasant place where everyone can reap the benefits of friendship and learning.

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Image copyright Hiroe Nakata, 2020, text copyright Laura Purdie Salas, 2020. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Hiroe Nakata’s watercolor illustrations introduce readers to Clover’s world and how she perceives it through clear visual cues. Upon opening the cover, children are invited into Clover’s bedroom, which is rendered in pastel pinks, yellows, and blues. She is happy to be knitting with just a favorite toy for companionship. When Clover gets to her classroom, however, Nakata uses a brighter color palette and harsh tones of yellow to represent how Cover experiences sunlight and the typical colors found in elementary school classrooms. This first portrayal of Clover’s classroom also portrays tumbling blocks, a struggle between two kids over a toy, a messy art table, and even a bulletin board packed with topsy-turvy numbers. Clover sits in the center of the room, tightly curled, demonstrating her wish for calm and quiet. Subsequent pages give readers many opportunities to point out things that add to the chaos for someone who is sensory-sensitive. For example, the teacher wears a bell on her tail and kittens rush at her on the playground and in the lunch room, invading her personal space. In contrast, Clover’s room contains strings of pompoms or felt hangings instead of bells or chimes and her clothes are hung neatly in her closet. As Clover returns to school, kids will be interested to point out the glasses, mittens, and other items from home that help.

An important book to add to home, classroom, and public library collections, Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten promotes mindful consideration of the images, sounds, smells, and activities that can become overwhelming not only for sensory-sensitive people but for us all. With a charming protagonist and caring friend, the story will inspire better understanding and kindness that benefits children in the classroom and beyond.

Ages 3 – 7

Two Lions, 2020 | ISBN 978-1542042468

Discover more about Laura Purdie Salas and her books on her website.

You can learn more about Hiroe Nakata and view a portfolio of her books on the MB Artists website.

Take a look at the Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten book trailer!

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Two Lions and Blue Slip Media in a giveaway of:

One (1) copy of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten, written by Laura Purdie Salas | illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

To enter:

This giveaway is open from August 6 through August 13 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on August 14.

Prizing provided by Two Lions

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts 

Get Ready for Kindergarten Month Activity

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Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten Activity Sheets

 

You can find six free printable Clover Kitty Activity Sheets that are fun ways to celebrate school, friendship, and learning on Laura Purdie Salas’s website here:

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten Activity Sheets

You can order a signed and personalized copy of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten from Red Balloon Bookshop!

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You can find Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from 

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

 

August 2 – It’s Water Quality Month

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About the Holiday

Water Quality is a crucial world-wide issue. In fact, 2015 closed out a decade-long United Nations initiative “Water for Life” to promote awareness of the importance of water quality as it relates to sanitation, geography, human rights, urbanization, and sustainability. The Audobon Society emphasizes the interconnectedness of all water systems and urges people to be mindful of the dangers that can lurk in runoff from construction, forestry, factories, agriculture, and personal yards as it combines in rivers, lakes, or the ocean. To observe this month be conscious of what is in your water. Limit the use of anti-bacterial soaps that contain a certain pesticide harmful to marine life, don’t flush unused medications, choose nontoxic household cleaners, avoid using fertilizers and pesticides, and clean up leaks from cars and other machinery. Protecting our water sources protects us.

Water Can Be…

Written by Laura Purdie Salas | Illustrated by Violeta Dabija

 

“Water is water— / it’s puddle, pond, sea. / When springtime comes splashing, / the water flows free.” So begins an inventive journey through the ways that water enriches our lives. With four-word rhyming couplets Laura Purdie Salas illuminates specific moments or circumstances to reveal water’s important role from season to season. From filling ponds, lakes, oceans, and even puddles to roaring down hillsides to floating in misty fogs and forming snowflakes, water sustains us and makes the world a more beautiful place.

During spring and summer when ponds nurture new life and rain puddles reflect, “Water can be…a tadpole hatcher / Picture catcher.” In hot weather water refreshes as a “Thirst quencher / Kid drencher.” And the seas, at times calm and at others roiling, can be both “Home maker / Ship breaker.”

As the air cools in autumn, water can be found in alternate forms. It squirts from fountains for the “school drink-er” and hardens to ice for a “Bruise shrinker.” A river’s winding trail becomes a “Salmon highway / Eagle flyway.” Winter brings water in a more solid form. Whipped by wind snow swirls as a “Storm creator” or gently sticks to surfaces as a “Decorator.” Outside, both animals and people enjoy the frozen precipitation. Snow serves as a “Woodchuck warmer / Snowman former.”

On the final pages as ice sculptors carve castles and dragons, moon beams and rabbits, Laura Purdie Salas encourages readers: “Water is water— / it’s ice, snow, and sea. / Now go and discover / what else it can be.”

Fascinating facts concerning the subject of each rhyme, a glossary, and a bibliography for further reading follow the text. Laura Purdie Salas donates a portion of the royalties from Water Can Be… to WaterAid, an international non-profit organization that transforms lives by improving and providing access to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation.

Laura Purdie Salas always surprises with her selection of examples and clever rhymes leading readers to more fully appreciate the world around them. Water doesn’t just flow, it feeds, speeds, cloaks and soaks, it decorates and bejewels, fluffs and snuffs. After reading Sala’s poetic tribute, readers will never experience water the same way and will be on the lookout for how they can interpret water’s gifts.

Violeta Dabija has created gorgeous, ethereal interpretations of each two-word rhyme. The nourishing blues and aquas of the sea, gauzy whites of fog and clouds, and brilliant whites of snow and ice are subtly crosshatched giving each illustration depth and movement. While the words on each page are short, kids will want to spend a long time taking in the beauty of Dabija’s paintings.

Ages 3 – 8

Millbrook Press, Lerner Books, 2014 | ISBN 978-1467705912

Check out the book trailer for Water Can Be…. It really makes a splash!

There’s so much to see and do on Laura Purdie Salas’s website!

View more beautiful art by Violeta Dabija on her website!

Water Quality Month Activity

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Angel Fish Coloring Page

 

Clean water is important for all fish to survive! You can make the ocean sparkling clear by adding a bit of glitter to your printable Angel Fish Coloring Page!