May 6 – Join Hands Day

Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was instituted to foster better communication between the older and younger generations and to recognize the ways that all people, no matter what their age, can help each other. Many communities use this day to begin a dialogue between their elderly and their youth, getting young people involved in visiting care centers and older adults helping out at schools and other youth programs. Another great way to celebrate is for grandparents and grandkids to spend the day together!

Rainbow Stew

By Cathryn Falwell

 

Grandpa’s making pancakes for his three favorite kids—his granddaughter and two grandsons. The kids are excited to be visiting their grandpa where they can play outside all day long. On this particular day, however, rain spatters the windows, and the kids are disappointed: “Whimper, sigh, / cloudy sky, / is it too wet to play? / We don’t want to stay inside / because of rain today.” But their grandpa knows just what to do! “Let’s go and find some colors for my famous Rainbow Stew!” he suggests.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rainbow-stew-picking-vegetables

Image copyright Cathryn Falwell, courtesy of rainbowstewbook.com

Out to the garden they run in their raincoats and hats. “Splish, splash, / puddle dash, / We bounce right out the door. / We’re off to find some red and green, / some yellow, orange, and more. / Grandpa shows us how to move / Between each garden row. / Lifting up the drippy leaves, /  we see what colors grow.” They collect green spinach, kale, and zucchini; yellow peppers, purple cabbage and eggplant, red radishes and tomatoes; brown potatoes; and orange carrots. After some muddy fun among the plants, the kids go inside, get dried off, and begin to prepare their colorful stew.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rainbow-stew-playing-between-the-rows

Image copyright Catherine Falwell, courtesy of rainbowstewbook.com

Peel, slice / chop and dice, / colors fill the pot. / Stir in herbs and water / and then wait till it gets hot.” While the pot simmers on the stove, Grandpa and the kids snuggle on the couch with favorite books, reading together until the stew has simmered to perfection. The family then sits down to a homemade, colorful, delicious lunch of Rainbow Stew. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rainbow-stew-playing-cooking-together

Image copyright Cathryn Falwell, courtesy of rainbowstewbook.com

Cathryn Falwell’s Rainbow Stew is a wonderful book to share with young children on many levels, offering opportunities for learning as well as playing. Introducing colors through familiar and delicious vegetables can get kids excited about gardening, cooking, even going to the grocery store. The rhyming verses each begin with an energetic couplet that kids will enjoy repeating or acting out. The bright colors of Grandpa’s house mirror the vividness of the garden vegetables, and young readers may enjoy matching the vegetables to items in the kitchen, living room, and more. 

Children will identify with the disappointment of the three siblings when they learn it’s too wet to spend the day outside as well as their glee at squishing in the mud. The close bond between the kids and their grandfather as they cook and read together is a strong anchor for this story and promotes early literacy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rainbow-stew-reading-together

Image copyright Cathryn Falwell, courtesy of rainbowstewbook.com

A recipe for Rainbow Stew follows the story. Reading Rainbow Stew, preparing the delicious dish, and doing the puzzle below makes for a fun rainy – or sunny – day!

Ages 4 – 7

Lee & Low Books, 2013 | ISBN 978-1600608476

Learn more about Cathryn Falwell and her books and art on her website!

To discover more about Rainbow Stew as well as activities to accompany the book, head over to rainbowstewbook.com!

Join Hands Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-UN-day-puzzle

Give Me Your Hand Interchangeable Puzzle

 

In this printable Give Me Your Hand! Puzzle, everyone is welcomed with a handshake. Offering friendship to all, the interchangeable pieces can be mixed and matched as the animals become buddies with one another. 

Supplies

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-UN-day-puzzle

Copyright Conor Carroll, courtesy of celebratepicturebooks.com

Directions

  1. Print the puzzle: to make the puzzle sturdier: Print on heavy stock paper or glue the page to poster board
  2. Color the pictures with colored pencils or crayons
  3. Cut the pieces apart
  4. Switch the pieces around to make many alternate pictures
celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-UN-day-puzzle

Copyright Conor Carroll, courtesy of celebratepicturebooks.com

Picture Book Review

January 25 – A Room of One’s Own Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-my-very-own-room-cover

About the Holiday

Everyone needs a little space of their own—a place to think, read, write, or just say Ahhhh… after a long day. In today’s world of Man Caves and Women’s Sheds, designing a spot where you can get away and spend some rejuvenating alone time doing a particular hobby or just doing nothing is becoming easier and more accepted. Kids need their own spaces too—a personal place surrounded by the things they love.

My Very Own Room / Mi propio cuartito

Written by / Escrito por Amada Irma Pérez | Illustrated by / Ilustrado por Maya Christina Gonzalez

 

One morning a little girl woke up in a bed overrun with brothers. Victor’s elbow was poking her in the ribs, and Mario was curled up on the pillow with his leg across her face. In the next bed slept the girl’s three other brothers. The girl had had enough—after all she was nearly 9 years old. After years of sharing a room with her five brothers, “more than anything in the whole world [she] wanted a room of [her] own,” but space in her tiny house was hard to come by. What’s more, besides the eight immediate family members, sometimes friends and relatives from Mexico came to stay. It could be fun, but there was no privacy.

To get away she sometimes crept out early in the morning and climbed “the crooked ladder that leaned against the elm tree” in her backyard. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her brothers, she just needed a place of her own. She looked around the house for a space that would be just right. She peeked behind the flour-sack curtain that divided the living room from the storage closet. It seemed perfect! She imagined it with her “own bed, table, and lamp—a place where she could read the books she loved, write in her diary, and dream.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-my-very-own-room-mixing-paint

Image copyright Maya Christina Gonzalez, courtesy of Lee & Low Books

While the storage nook seemed the solution, the girl’s mother shook her head. The space was already assigned to her aunt’s sewing machine, her uncle’s garden tools, furniture, and old clothes—the things needed for others to make a better life in America. But then her mother saw the tears in her daughter’s eyes and decided that perhaps the things in the storage space could find a new home on the back porch with blankets and a tarp to protect them from the weather.

With a hug and a kiss, the little girl thanked her mother, and they and the five boys began rearranging the house. Finally, all that was left behind the flour-sack curtain were a few cans of leftover paint. There was blue, white, and pink, but not enough of any one color to paint the room. Suddenly, the girl had an idea. She and her brothers mixed the three together and made…magenta! Tío Pancho offered a spare bed and after measuring the room and then the bed with a piece of yellow yarn, the little girl discovered that the bed would indeed fit. An upended wooden crate became a nightstand. But what about a lamp?

Mamá brought out her box of Blue Chip stamps that she’d been collecting for years. The stamps were awarded with gas and food purchases. When they were stuck into booklets and used at special stores, the stamps were as good as money. The girl and her brothers “licked and licked and pasted and pasted.” When they were finished, they all went to the stamp store. As soon as she stepped into the store, the girl spied the lamp she wanted. “It was as dainty as a beautiful ballerina, made of white ceramic glass with a shade that had ruffles around the top and bottom.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-my-very-own-room-books

Image copyright Maya Christina Gonzalez, courtesy of Lee & Low Books

Back home she carefully set the lamp on her bedside table, but “something was still missing, the most important thing…Books!” The next day the little girl brought home six books from the library—six was her “lucky number because there were six children” in her family. That night, the little girl nestled into her new room, turned on the light and began to read. When her two youngest brothers peered in through the curtain, she invited them in, and as they snuggled on her bed, she read them a story. At the end they said goodnight, and her brothers returned to their own room. Lying back against her pillow, the girl felt “like the luckiest, happiest little girl in the whole world” because each person in her family had worked to make her wish come true. She drifted off into peaceful sleep under a “blanket of books” in her very own room.

Amada Irma Pérez’s touching story from her own childhood is a delightful reminder for readers of the strong bonds of family love that puts other’s needs ahead of one’s own. The family’s commitment to each other is found not only in their willingness to help rearrange the house to accommodate a maturing daughter and sibling, but in the collection and storage of goods that will contribute to a better life for friends and relatives. Children familiar with reward points will be fascinated to learn about their predecessor “blue chip stamps.” The straightforward storytelling is infused with the kinds of hopes and suspense that resonate with kids, and the tender, quiet ending leaves readers with a lingering feeling of comfort and happiness.

Maya Christina Gonzalez fills the pages of My Very Own Room with joyous vibrancy and empathy that emphasizes the family’s connection. Soft edges and swirling patterns create a comforting environment, while elements, such as the long piece of yellow yarn, underscore the familial ties. While the little girl finds solace in the backyard elm tree and hunts for a space to call her own, her mother looks on with understanding, which leads to depictions of mother and daughter that are particularly moving. With warmth and welcome, each page invites readers into the family home to share a transitional event in their life.

The text is presented in both English and Spanish on each page, and is followed by a brief biographical note, including photographs, by Amada Irma Pérez.

It’s heartening to read a story in which siblings are so immediately supportive of each other. The gentle pace and upbeat tenor of My Very Own Room makes it a wonderful choice for quiet family story times or group school or library readings.

Ages 5 – 10

Lee & Low Books, 2008 | ISBN 978-0892392230

Learn more about Amada Irma Pérez and her books on her website!

Discover a gallery of book illustration and fine art by Maya Christina Gonzalez plus resources for educators on her website!

A Room of One’s Own Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bedroom-coloring-page

Decorate Your Room Coloring Page

 

If you had a room to fix up just the way you’d like, how would it look? Here’s a printable Decorate Your Room Coloring Page for you to enjoy. Put your own knick-knacks on the shelf and your things on the nightstand by the bed. Then give your room a color scheme – and move in!

Picture Book Review

April 3 – National Find a Rainbow Day

Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

It’s not often someone wishes you a rainy day. Today, though, I’m doing just that because you can’t see a rainbow without a little of the wet stuff. This early spring month was chosen for this special day because, as we all know, April showers bring May flowers. Those same April showers lead to beautiful rainbows—even double rainbows sometimes! So, I hope you have a bad (weather) day and good luck finding a rainbow today! By the way—what do May flowers bring? Right! Pilgrims!

Rainbow Stew

By Cathryn Falwell

 

Grandpa’s making pancakes for his three favorite kids, and his granddaughter and two grandsons are excited to be visiting where they can play outside all day. Through the window the kids see that it’s a rainy day. Does this mean they’ll have to stay inside? Their grandpa knows just what to do! “Let’s go and find some colors for my famous Rainbow Stew!” he says.

Out to the garden they run in their raincoats and hats. They collect green spinach, kale, and zucchini; yellow peppers, purple cabbage and eggplant, red radishes and tomatoes; brown potatoes; and orange carrots. After some muddy fun between the garden rows, the kids go inside, get dried off, and begin to cook.

They peel and chop the vegetables, fill a pot with water, add herbs and the good things that they’ve picked then settle in to wait. While the pot simmers on the stove, the family snuggles on the couch with favorite books. Just in time for lunch, the delicious stew is ready.

Cathryn Falwell’s Rainbow Stew is a wonderful book to share with young children on many levels. The bright colors of Grandpa’s house mirror the vividness of the garden vegetables in his stew, which could be made into a matching game for extra fun. The rhyming verses—each begun with an energetic couplet that would be fun for kids to repeat or act out—draw listeners into the story. Introducing colors through familiar and delicious vegetables can get kids excited about gardening, cooking, even going to the grocery store.

Children will identify with the disappointment of the three siblings when they learn it’s too wet to spend the day outside as well as their glee at squishing in the mud. The close bond between the kids and their grandfather as they cook and read together is a strong anchor for this story.

A recipe for Rainbow Stew follows the story. Combined with the craft below, the book and recipe could make for a fun rainy-day get-together!

Ages 4 – 7

Lee & Low Books, 2013 | ISBN 978-1600608476

National Find a Rainbow Day Activity

CPB - Rainbow Crayon Art 3

Crayon Rainbow Art

 

With this cool project you can create an art piece that’s as colorful as a rainbow and as unique as you are! Adult help is needed for children.

Supplies

  • Box of 24 crayons
  • White foam board or thick poster board, 8 inches by 17 inches
  • A small piece of corrugated cardboard, about 5 inches by 5 inches (a piece of the foam board can also be used for this step)
  • A small piece of poster board, about 5 inches by 5 inches
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife (optional)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hair dryer
  • Old sheets or towels, newspapers, a large box, or a trifold display board

CPB - Rainbow Crayon Art 2

CPB - Rainbow Crayon Art 1 (2)

Directions

  1. Remove the various red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet hued crayons from the box of crayons
  2. Strip the paper from the crayons by slicing the paper with the x-acto knife, or removing it by hand
  3. Line them up in order at the top of the white foam board
  4. Glue the crayons with their tips facing down to the board with the hot glue gun
  5. Cut an umbrella or other shape of your choice from the poster board
  6. Trace the umbrella or other shape onto the corrugated cardboard or a piece of the foam board and cut out
  7. Glue the poster board shape onto the corrugated cardboard, let dry
  8. Glue the umbrella or other shape to the foam board, about 4 ½ inches below the crayons
  9. Set up a space to melt the crayons. The wax will fly, so protect the floor and walls by placing the art piece in a large box or hanging newspapers, old sheets or towels on the walls and placing newspapers on the floor. A trifold display board and newspapers works well.
  10. Stand the art piece upright with the crayons at the top
  11. With the hot setting of the hair dryer, blow air at the crayons until they start to melt
  12. Move the hair dryer gently back and forth across the line of crayons from a distance of about 6 to 12 inches away. The closer you are to the crayons, the more they will splatter
  13. The crayons will begin to melt and drip downward
  14. You can experiment with aiming the hair dryer straight on or at an angle to mix colors
  15. Wax that drips onto the umbrella or other shape can be chipped off after it dries or wiped off to create a “watercolor” effect on the shape
  16. Once the hair dryer is turned off, the wax cools and dries quickly
  17. Hang or display your art!