September 23 – Autumn Equinox

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About the Holiday

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, fall has arrived! If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, welcome to spring! Today, daytime and nighttime will be equal, ushering in a changing of the seasons. For some that means cooler weather, shorter days, and a slowing down in nature which leads to our being able to see the brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges in the leaves of certain trees. The phenomenon featured in today’s book. For others nature is just awakening, with all the beauty warm weather and new growth bring. Wherever you live, enjoy the activities and events the change in season brings!

Leaf Jumpers

Written by Carole Gerber | Illustrated by Leslie Evans

 

One of the marvels of autumn is watching the trees change their summer clothes for colorful cool-weather dress. In their classic, Leaf Jumpers, Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans teach young readers how to identify eight of nature’s beauties by the shape and fall color of their leaves. On a crisp afternoon, two children (and their dog) watch “a soft wind shake the trees. It lifts the leaves and sets them free.” As the leaves flutter down, the kids race to catch them in the air as they call out their names.

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Image copyright Leslie Evans, 2004, text copyright Carole Gerber, 2004. Courtesy of Charlesbridge.

First come maple leaves “bright and vivid as a match.” Joining them, “the sugar maple’s leaves are orange, like pumpkins in a pumpkin patch.” The boy compares his hands to a white oak leaf and seeing birch leaves on the ground thinks they are as oval and sunny as an egg. Their dog likes hiding among the fringy yellow-green willow leaves, while the girl gently holds a ginkgo’s “wavy golden leaf” that’s “shaped just like a little fan.”

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Image copyright Leslie Evans, 2004, text copyright Carole Gerber, 2004. Courtesy of Charlesbridge.

High up in the sycamore a squirrel crouches on a branch, camouflaged in the dense foliage. The boy and girl wave to it, and their dog, all attention, is ready for a chase. The kids pick up leaves by the handful and toss them into the air, dancing underneath. As the leaves land, the boy and girl giggle. “Leaf hats settle on our heads.” The girl grabs a rake and begins gathering the leaves, and when they are mounded deep, the three leap into the beckoning “pile of colors.”

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Image copyright Leslie Evans, 2004, text copyright Carole Gerber, 2004. Courtesy of Charlesbridge.

With lyrical verses, Gerber invites kids to enjoy the fun that comes when the vibrant fall leaves blanket the ground. Her sprightly descriptions are just right for teaching even the youngest readers to recognize trees by the intricate details of their leaves. Smooth or jagged, thin or wide, red, orange, or yellow, each leaf has a story to tell. Gerber’s also compares the color or the shape of each leaf to something children are familiar with, helps them to remember and distinguish each type of leaf. But, of course, Gerber understands that for little ones, autumn leaves mean just one thing, and she celebrates kids’ excitement and creativity in her final pages, where the leaves become enticing playmates.

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In her vivid illustrations, Leslie Evans spotlights each type of leaf while also infusing her pages with that giddy exhilaration that cooler weather and falling leaves creates in kids. The antics of the children’s brown-and-white dog adds humor as it hides in the willow leaves, anticipates a squirrel race, and frolics with the kids in the soft, welcoming pile. Touches of red, blue, violet and tan in the children’s clothing set off the dazzling leaves, producing a warm and cozy effect you’ll love snuggling up with.

Now in a board book edition, Leaf Jumpers makes a perfect book to have on hand at home to take along on fall trips to farmers markets and parks or on strolls around the block. It’s also a great book to share as leaves begin changing color and tumbling down and before those fun leaf-raking sessions. Leaf Jumpers is a wonderful resource for classrooms and libraries to include in their collections as well.

Ages 3 – 7

Charlesbridge, 2017 | ISBN 978-1580897822 (Board Book, 2017) | ISBN 978-1570914980 (Paperback, 2006)

Discover more about Carole Gerber and her books on her website.

To learn more about Leslie Evans, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Autumn Equinox Activity

CPB - Cinnamon Apples (2)

Cinnamon Apples

 

Warm apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar is one of the most delectable treats of autumn. Here’s an easy recipe for making this delicious dessert or side dish.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of apples, Macintosh or Granny Smith apples are good choices
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

CPB - Cinnamon Apples ingredients (2)

Directions

  1. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon
  2. Peel and core 2 large apples
  3. Thinly slice apples
  4. Combine apples and cinnamon sugar/brown sugar mixture
  5. Stir until well combined
  6. Drizzle with lemon juice and stir again
  7. Cook apples on the stove at medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired texture

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You can find Leaf Jumpers at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

May 10 – Mother Ocean Day

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About the Holiday

The brain child of the South Florida Kayak Fishing Club and enacted in 2013, Mother Ocean Day promotes awareness of the beauty and wonder of the world’s oceans. Teeming with rare and surprising creatures and plants, the ocean remains one of Earth’s most amazing mysteries. Today, take time to enjoy all the ocean has to offer—go to the beach and walk, snorkel, swim, or fish—or if you’re more of a landlubber read a book about our Mother Ocean.

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems

Written by Leslie Bulion | Illustrated by Leslie Evans

 

With a jaunty exhortation to “Dive In!” Leslie Bulion invites readers to “…visit a habitat shallow and deep. / and boiling hot, where acids seep, / and frigid and pressured and mountainy-steep, / Come explore the sea! Seventeen species of “odd critters, enormous and tiny…hunters and foragers, hiders and peekers” are described in clever, informative verse.

The Coconut Octopus is a wily creature: “This octopus walks backwards on two arms, / And wraps the other six around its top. / It ambles free of predatory harms, / And thus avoids becoming shark-chewed slop.” The symbiotic relationship between the Leopard Sea Cucumber and the Emperor Shrimp is told in alternating lines of blue and red.

“I inch along.”

“We hitch a ride. / We tour the seafloor country side.”

“I’m ship,”

We’re crew. / We swab the decks / By eating scummy algae specks.”

I’m camouflaged / in leopard spots.

While not the swiftest / Of the yachts, / A top-notch spot to meet a mate.”

When threatened I eviscerate.

To spew my guts / Is quite a chore, / And it takes weeks / To grow some more. / But I keep predators away.

We live to crew / Another day.

The unexplained habit of the convict fish, which “eats” its young every night just to spit them out again, is described in “Fish Food,” and readers can dig their teeth into another meal-related relationship between the reef shark and the cleaner wrasse in “Healthy Eating.” In “Dental Health” readers learn that narwhal’s tusks are much more than defense mechanisms. Instead, each tooth “contains ten million nerves to sense / environmental evidence.” And what’s more—“…when we see them crossing spars / and jousting underneath the stars, / one’s tusk above and one’s beneath, / it’s not a fight; their brushing teeth.”

“Crabby Camouflage” has never been so elaborate or decorative as that concocted by the jeweled anemone crab, and “Dolphin Fashion” reveals an ingenious way to protect a tender snout: “A bottlenose counseled her daughter: / Put this sponge on your beak underwater. / You can scare out more fish, / Poke sharp stones as you wish, / And your skin’ll stay smooth like it oughter.”

Snapping shrimp, epaulette sharks, the violet snail, sea spiders, krill, the broody squid, sipohonophores, erenna, larvaceans, osedax, and the remotely operated vehicles that give us a view of the ocean floor are also celebrated in this fun poetry collection.

Each poem is followed by scientific information about the subject of the verse.

Leslie Bulion piques readers’ interest in these fascinating ocean creatures with her smart, witty rhymes that reveal little-known facts.

Leslie Evans, with her printmaker’s eye, illustrates the deep blue pages with stylized depictions of the fish and animals that populate the sea, allowing readers to visualize the quirks and adaptations written about.

Ages 6 and up

Peachtree Publishers, 2011 | ISBN 978-1561455652

Gardening for Wildlife Month Activity

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Spoon Flowers

The rounded scoop and long “stem” of plastic ice-cream spoons make a perfect base for pretty wildflowers. You can use the printable petal template or make petals of your own design to fill your vase with color

Supplies

  • Printable Petal Template
  • 3 – 4 plastic ice-cream spoons, these are available in different colors at party supply stores or you can paint them the color you’d like
  • Multi-purpose paint in colors of your choice, if you are painting the spoons
  • Heavy craft paper in your favorite flower colors
  • Green ribbon
  • Ribbon, hairbands, weaving loom bands, or colored wire
  • Glue gun or strong glue
  • Paintbrush 
  • Scissors
  • Beans, sand, pebbles, or glass or plastic beads to fill the vase

Directions

  1. Print or trace the petals onto colored paper. The number of petals you need for each flower will depend on the size of the spoon
  2. Cut out the petals
  3. With the glue gun or strong glue, attach the petals to the spoon, gluing the end of the petals around the inside edge of the spoon, Let dry
  4. Wrap the handle of the spoon with the green ribbon and glue in place
  5. Fill the vase ¾ full with beans, sand, pebbles, or beads
  6. Decorate the rim of the bottle with the ribbon, bands, or wire
  7. Push the flower stems into the vase and arrange