October 17 – National Pasta Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday celebrates one of the world’s favorite foods. With over 600 different shapes and sizes, pasta offers a wealth of recipe choices, from fancy to plain to that can’t-live-without Mac n’ Cheese. Pasta—the Italian word for dough—has been part of people’s diets since ancient times and was introduced to America by Thomas Jefferson in 1789, when he brought the first pasta machine and a supply of macaroni back home from a trip to France. There’s only one way to enjoy this special culinary event—so get the pot boiling or head out to your fav Italian restaurant and eat up!

The Great Pasta Escape

Written by Miranda Paul | Illustrated by Javier Joaquin

 

The pasta was fresh. Oh! I don’t mean that way—I’m just sayin’ they were new to the world. They? Well, yeah—you’ll see. The pasta was…recently made at the factory, and they knew their place. Each type “stuck to their own kind” in their own boxes, and they never talked to one another or the people who worked the machines or the lines. “They didn’t mix, move, or mingle. They were very good noodles.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-great-pasta-escape-beginning

Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

They went from shelf to shipping carton thinking of the super places they would end up. For instance, the wagon wheel imagined a home on the range with some cool boots, a ten-gallon hat, and a horse. But one day a piece of fettuccine overheard two workers talking about lunch. One was going to have pasta salad and one had brought leftover Pho.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-great-pasta-escape-factory-workers

Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Fettucine immediately called a meeting and expressed his fears (“Aaaaah! They’re going to EAT us!”), but the rest of the pasta thought this scenario was ridiculous. “‘Why would the humans make us, only to get rid of us?’” reasoned Bow Tie. Raman was getting tied up in knots, while Mac was trying to cool things down.

The Rotini gang believed Fettucine, though, and pointed everyone’s gaze in the direction of the directions on their boxes. All the pasta were aghast. Fettucine began crying, “‘Just cover me in Alfredo sauce now.’” While Ramen snarked, “‘You mean Afraid-o sauce.” Bow Tie tried the civilized approach to calm the situation, and chill Mac brought a more laid-back vibe to the scene.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-great-pasta-escape-western-scene

Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

They needed a plan, though. Fettucine suggested hiding; Bow Tie voted for a peaceful sit-in; and Ramen wanted a more forceful opposition. But Mac reminded them to meditate on that “super place we’ve been hearing and dreaming about.’” Rotini was all for action, though, and in a moment had drawn up a schematic that might work if they sacrificed the Ravioli. This idea did not sit well with the Ravioli or the Tortellini. Emotions began to boil over, and a fight broke out on the factory floor.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-great-pasta-escape-different-types-of-pasta

Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

All seemed lost until…an angel appeared with an ingenious proposal. Everyone stopped wrestling to watch the presentation she’d “cooked up.” It looked good. Spaghetti wrote some signs, and the rest of the pasta hung them in plain sight. The sign on the door announced that the factory was closed. The pasta machines were all “out of order,” and the cartons were all labeled to be shipped to “Super Awesome Island, Paradise.” Then the fettucine, the bow ties, the ramen, the spaghetti, the rotini, the ravioli, and all the rest went back to their own boxes and waited…until they found themselves “on vacation in a very super place.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-great-pasta-escape-on-shelves

Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Miranda Paul dishes up a funny, dough-lightful story that will keep readers laughing while they noodle on the ideas of teamwork and friendship. Paul sprinkles plenty of puns throughout the pages while also stirring in more subtle humor based on each type of pasta’s shape or use in common recipes. The elbow macaroni is hip and calm befitting its use in Chili Mac, the bow tie is formal and mannerly, and it should come as no surprise that the rotini, with his spiral body, should come up with the most convoluted plan. When Angel Hair appears and unites the pasta in a successful bid to replace one “super” place with another, readers will see that by mixing it up and working together they can accomplish super things.

In his bold, colorful illustrations, Javier Joaquin provides each type of pasta with a distinct and expressive personality that readers will respond to. As the boxes of pasta sit on the factory shelf, waiting to be loaded into cartons, observant kids will see the heroes of the story hanging out in their respective packages. The vibrant dreams of each pasta stand in stark contrast to the sterile factory environment, spurring readers to cheer when their clever plan to escape comes true.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499804805

Discover more about Miranda Paul and her books on her website.

View a portfolio of illustration and graphic design work by Javier Joaquin on his website.

National Pasta Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-noodle-puzzle

Noodle On This! Puzzle

 

Four pasta dishes are on the stove. Can you find which type of pasta goes to each container in this printable Noodle On This! Puzzle?

Picture Book Review

September 20 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

Do you ever walk into a bookstore or library and wish you could read all the new books on the shelves? Me too! This month’s holiday encourages readers to get out there (or in there!) and search for some new books to take home and read, read, read!

Small

By Gina Perry

 

A little—and I mean little—girl is out and about in the big—and I mean big—city. All around her are buildings, people, and trees that seem to emphasize her smallness. Standing next to the “wide street. Tall buildings,” she thinks, “I look small.” Compared to the “noisy cars. Speeding bikes,” she even walks small.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-small-gina-perry-city

Copyright Gina Perry, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

While buying and eating lunch, the little girl is surrounded by more examples of how tiny she really is. Even the ducks at the pond appear bigger than she is with their oversized QUACK! QUACK! Yes, says the girl as she abandons her “huge food” to the gobbling ducks, “I am small.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-small-gina-perry-hot-dog

Copyright Gina Perry, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

But…in the park she spies a tall slide and with determination climbs the high ladder. At the top and with a Whoosh!, she suddenly says, “I feel big because I can fly.” Down on the blacktop with her colorful chalk, she becomes an artist capable of expressing her big dreams. On the basketball court, she barely comes up to the teenagers’ knees, but, still, the ball she throws rises to the net. “I play big because I am fierce,” she explains.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-small-gina-perry-drawing

Copyright Gina Perry, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

When she’s happy, the little girl’s voice rings through the air, and her bravery allows her to swing through it too. She brings her mom flowers because her heart overflows with love, and when she’s just tall enough to ride the Ferris wheel, she soars over the city because she is “BIG!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-small-gina-perry-love

Copyright Gina Perry, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Gina Perry zeroes in on what it means to be a child surrounded by bigness in her profound and encouraging book that shows young readers that size is not only measured in outward ways, but in the intensity of one’s heart, dreams, personality, and self-confidence. Through visual juxtapositions that kids will recognize and appreciate, Perry demonstrates the various meanings of “small” and “big” that influence a child’s thinking and feelings. When the little girl approaches the slide, however, her perspective changes, allowing her and readers to soar. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-small-gina-perry-basketball

Copyright Gina Perry, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Perry’s distinctive illustrations are full of humor and a very welcome cast of diverse characters. Children will love lingering over each page to talk about the ideas of big and small, long and short, wide and tall and the less-concrete ideas of “bigness” of thought and action. Kids will also like following the yellow butterfly that keeps the little girl company from spread to spread.

Small is a wonderful book to give as a gift or to add to home libraries. It also makes a great discussion starter in classrooms, which are full of children in various stages of growth.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499804010

Discover more about Gina Perry, her books and her art on her website!

Read a New Book Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mouse-with-books-coloring-page

A Taaalll Stack of Books Coloring Page

 

One new book is great, but a whole stack of new books? Fantastic! Have fun coloring this printable Taaalll Stack of Books Coloring Page and then enjoy reading a new book!

Picture Book Review

September 19 – It’s Self-Care Awareness Month

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About the Holiday

We hear a lot about caring for and taking care of others, but caring for yourself is important too. Making sure you are happy and healthy physically and emotionally goes a long way in determining your quality of life and how you can relate to others. Taking care of yourself comes in many forms. Eating well, getting enough exercise, finding time to relax and have fun, and even saying “no” instead of always “yes” are just a few of the ways that you can ensure you’re looking out for yourself. Today, take a pledge to be good to yourself—not just one day a year, but every day.

The Curious Cares of Bears

Written by Douglas Florian | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 

If you’re out in the woods and you come upon bears, you might find that they have some “curious cares.” During spring, bears are careful when “climbing up trees and stealing the honey from beehives of bees.” After being well fed, bears like to run and play and stop along the way to smell the flowers. For cub brothers and sisters some teasing and wrestling fill out the day.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-honey

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Summer brings new cares, such as “swimming inside of a creek, playing jump rope or perhaps hide-and-seek.” Vacation time means visits from family far and near, including bear hugs, delicious feasts, and dancing till dawn. Bears are also fond of exploring the mountains by hiking and biking, and on hot, hazy days they relax in the lake, drying off later with “great big bear shakes.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-swimming

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

In autumn, bear cares become cozy and warm as they play in leaf piles and sing campfire songs. When the winter chill comes, they hibernate in their dens, “where deeply they sleep till the springtime and then…they slowly emerge as the frozen grounds thaw and start to explore the wide world with awe.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-smelling flowers

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Douglas Florian guides little ones through a year of shenanigans and contentment with a group of bears that are more carefree than careful. These adorable bears know how to take care of themselves and enjoy being together—just like children do. Florian’s gentle rhymes will charm readers and remind them of the good times they have throughout the year.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-cares

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Sonia Sánchez’s sweet bear families know how to spend a year, taking care to appreciate every moment. From the precarious maneuvers to reach honey on a thin, bendy sapling to tumbling and splashing in a creek, to dancing in a conga line, these bears understand how to have a good time. Little readers will giggle at the shower of water droplets (and a few ants) that spray from a bear drying off and snuggle closer as the bears gather around a glowing campfire. As the bears emerge from their winter sleep, children will also be ready to look at their world with awe.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499804621

Self-Care Awareness Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kinetic-sand-craft

Relaxation Sand

 

Sometimes you just need to zone out and relax, but it’s hard to ignore all the sights and sounds around you and the thoughts that swirl through your mind. Playing with this kinetic sand can help you take it easy and let the world slip away like the sand slipping through your fingers.

Supplies

  • 1 cup of play sand
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap
  • About ¾ cup of water—or as much as needed
  • Bin or large bowl
  • Small bowl

Directions

The amount of water you use will depend on the consistency of the sand

  1. In a bin or bowl, combine the sand and cornstarch and mix well
  2. In the small bowl combine the dish soap and water and stir until the water is bubbly
  3. Slowly pour some of the water/dish soap mixture into the sand/cornstarch mixture and mix well.
  4. Continue mixing, adding a little water at a time until the desired consistency is reached

Picture Book Review

September 14 – Live Creative Day

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About the Holiday

Today, let your inner artist out! There are as many ways to be creative as there are people—that’s what makes today such a special event! Everyone sees, hears, and experiences the world in a different way. How do you? Grab the creative tool or instrument of your choice and let your friends, family, and even strangers see the creative genius inside you!

Crocodali

By Lucy Volpin

 

You open the book, expecting to be welcomed with open arms by the characters inside. Instead, who do you meet but a very busy crocodile. With not a little braggadocio he reveals that he is “Crocodali, the most talented painter in the whole wide world.” It seems you’ve stumbled into his studio, and he’s setting up to create a new masterpiece, leaving him no time to stop for a chat or even to give you an autograph.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-in-the-studio

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

But after he’s given you the brush off, so to speak, he suddenly needs your help. Crocodali just can’t get the canvas to sit straight on the easel. He asks if you wouldn’t mind tilting the book just a little to the right. Oh, no! Now it needs to go a little to the left. Can you tilt it back just a wee bit? Oh dear! Now the canvas and the easel have toppled over! Even the paint cans tipped on their sides, and some blue and yellow has splashed onto the clean, white canvas.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tilt

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Well! Crocodali is a little miffed! He wants you to just go on reading and leave the cleaning up to him. Wait, wait, wait! Did you turn the page? (Isn’t that part of reading, though?) Now the canvas is completely on its side and there are some splotches of red on it too. Crocodali is in a huff because now he’ll have to start all over. But he takes a second look and in the next moment has had a change of heart. Now he thinks “that looks quite nice. Maybe you’re onto something.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tilt-the-other-way

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

He even invites you to “give the book a shake and see what happens.” What happens is that the paints, brushes, canvas, and even Crocodali himself are now rattling around the pages all topsy-turvy. When things settle down, the room and the great artist are covered in paint. Crocodali sets the painting back on the easel and steps back to take a look. Hmmmm…. He likes it! But maybe it’s upside down? He’s going to turn it over and add a few more details.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tipped-over

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With a very dexterous tail and his right hand, he dabs on purple, brushes on yellow and red, and is then ready to “mix it all up.” Here’s where you come in again. Can you give the canvas a good rub? Wow! The painting looks amazing! Crocodali exclaims, “It’s a masterpiece! I really am the greatest painter in the world.” He’s the greatest painter in the world? Who did all the work? Whatever…. The painting now needs to dry, and Crocodali wants you to blow on it to speed up the process.

One…two…three…Blow! Huh! You have some power! You blew all the paint off the canvas and onto the wall! It looks incredible, through—and leaves the canvas blank to start all over again!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-on-its-side

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Kids will love Lucy Volpin’s feisty, boastful crocodile who comes to see that even mishaps can spark creativity. The giggles will begin on the first page as Crocodali (an inspired character and name) strolls into the studio sporting a Salvador Dali mustache and dismissing readers away with a wave of his hand. As children begin interacting with the pages, they’ll look forward to what comes next. Large images of the canvas allow children to really see the effects of their actions, and the two-page “shaken” spread is a delight of mayhem and color.

Kids will also enjoy turning the book around to see the various perspectives of the painting they’re creating throughout the story. Volpin gives readers lots of opportunities to discuss art, color, painting, and even teamwork, making Crocodali a joyful and inviting introduction to the creative process.

Crocodali would be a lively, playful opening to arts and crafts sessions in schools, libraries, and at home. For art lovers or energetic kids who like interaction with their reading, Crocodali is a wonderful choice.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499806335

Live Creative Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-supply-jar-craft

Make Your Own Creative Supply Jars

 

When inspiration hits, you want to have all of your supplies close at hand! With this easy craft you can use your creativity to make a one-of-a-kind jar to keep all of your favorite things neat, tidy, and within reach! These make great gifts for friends too!

Supplies

  • A wide-mouth plastic jar, such as a peanut butter jar
  • Paint or markers for plastic
  • Multi-surface chalkboard paint (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk (optional)

Directions

  1. Design your jar
  2. If you are planning to use chalkboard paint, paint that section first
  3. Paint or decorate with markers
  4. Let dry
  5. Fill with your art of other creative supplies

Picture Book Review

June 27 – It’s Effective Communications Month

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About the Holiday

Sure, body language can say a lot, but effectively expressing yourself in words and writing helps decrease misunderstandings, misinterpretations, hurt feelings, and conflict. Learning to handle important relationships and work obligations with thoughtful care, consideration, and empathy can take patience and practice. This month people are invited to work on their communications skills to enhance their life with family, friends, co-workers, and others.

The Bear Who Stared

By Duncan Beedie

 

Bear loves to stare…and stare…and stare. One morning he emerges from his den to find a family of ladybugs having a picnic breakfast. He can’t help but gaze at them intently. “‘What are you staring at?’” the daddy ladybug demands before he and his family pack up to find a more private leaf. Bear continues on his way. In a bit he climbs a tree and stares at a bird feeding her chicks. “‘Can I help you?’” the mother bird asks, but Bear remains silent. The chicks don’t like Bear interfering with their meal, so the mother bird angrily tells him to “‘sshhhooooo!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bear-who-stared-interior-art-ladybugs

Copyright Duncan Beedie, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At the bottom of the tree Bear spies a badger hole and sticks his head inside. The badger, particularly irritated at Bear’s badgering stare while he is shaving, bites poor bear on the nose. Sore and dejected, Bear wanders through the forest to a large pond. He sits down on a log to ponder his situation. He doesn’t mean to be annoying, he’s “just curious but too shy to say anything.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bear-who-stared-ladybugs-yelling

Copyright Duncan Beedie, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

A little frog floating on a lily pad in the middle of the pond pipes up, “‘I’ve seen that look before.’” Bear stares at the frog and the frog stares back. “‘Not much fun being stared at, is it?’” he says. Bear confesses that he just doesn’t know what to say to anyone. Just then Bear catches a glimpse of another bear staring back at him from the mossy water of the pond. This bear looks exactly like Bear, except that he is green and wavy. Suddenly, the green bear smiles. “‘You see?’” says the frog. “‘Sometimes a smile is all you need.’” The frog dives off his lily pad into the pond, and the green bear disappears too.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bear-who-stared-interior-art-staring

Copyright Duncan Beedie, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The next day Bear leaves his den and discovers the ladybug family breakfasting again. As soon as they spot Bear, they begin to gather their things. “‘Hello!’” Bear says with a big smile on his face. The ladybugs are surprised and happy. “‘Oh, hello!’” replies the dad, smiling back. With renewed confidence Bear wanders into the forest. He smiles at the birds and smiles at the badger, and they smile at him in return. Bear makes a lot of new friends that day. And there’s even that friend down at the pond who likes to stare as much as he does!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bear-who-stared-frog

Copyright Duncan Beedie, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Duncan Beedie highlights the awkward feeling many kids—and even adults—often feel in social situations. Nothing pops immediately to mind to say and yet there’s a desire for connection. As Bear discovers, staring is not the answer—so what is? In The Bear Who Stared, Beedie offers a simple, but universal solution through an engaging and humorous story. Bear, sporting a bemused expression that aptly depicts his predicament, is such an endearing character that readers will wish they could give him a hug as he suffers slights from the woodland creatures.

The full-bleed, oversized pages put readers at eye level with bear and his subjects, and the very up-close look into Bear’s staring eyes will make kids laugh. The green, rust, and blue palette on matte paper is bold, but muted, giving the pages an organic, environmental feel that is perfect to carry the story.

The Bear Who Stared is a funny story time read with a heart that kids will ask for again and again.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499802856

Check out more of Duncan Beedie’s illustration and animation work on his website!

Take a good looong look at this The Bear Who Stared book trailer!

Effective Communications Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bear-craft

Expressive Bear Craft

 

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say or how to express your emotions and thoughts. With this easy-to-make felt (or paper) set, you can give the bear different emotions and talk about them, make up stories to go with each facial expression, or play a fun game. Below, you’ll find a couple of ideas!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print templates
  2. Cut bear head from light felt or fleece
  3. Cut eyes from white felt or fleece
  4. Cut nose and inner ears from dark brown felt or fleece
  5. Cut pupils from black felt or fleece
  6. Glue pupils onto white eyes

Alternately: Color and play with the paper set

To Play a Game

Roll the die to collect parts of the bear’s face. The first player to create a full face is the winner.

  • Die dots correspond to:
  • 1—one eyebrow
  • 2—second eyebrow
  • 3—one eye
  • 4—second eye
  • 5—nose
  • 6—inner ears

For a Fun Story Time

Give the bear different faces and make up stories of why he looks that way!

Picture Book Review

June 18 – Father’s Day

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About the Holiday

While celebrations of Mother’s Day caught on very quickly after the first ceremony in 1908, proclaiming Father’s Day as a national institution took a little longer. On July 19, 1910 the governor of Washington State held the first Father’s Day event. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson, trying to attract attention to the holiday with a little technology, unfurled a flag in Spokane, Washington by pushing a button in Washington DC. This clever ploy, however, did not convince the men of the time, who scoffed at a holiday dedicated to fathers as somehow too “domesticated” and “unmanly.” During World War II celebrating Father’s Day began to be seen as a way to honor American troops and to help the war effort. The holiday then entered the mainstream, but it wasn’t until 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation, that Father’s Day became a federal holiday.

The Best Part of Daddy’s Day

By Claire Alexander

 

Little Bertie is proud to introduce his daddy to readers. His dad is a builder who drives diggers and trucks every day. Today he’s going to be in a crane high up in the sky working on a tall tower. “When I’m big,” Bertie says, “I want to be a builder just like him….” But right now Bertie’s dad is dropping him off at school. “‘Have a good day, Bertie!’” he says as he gives his son a hug.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-breakfast

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With the BRRRIIING of the bell, Bertie runs into class, where he’s in for a surprise. “‘Today we’re going to be builders,’” his teacher tells her class, and Bertie knows it’s going to be a great day! First the teacher reads “an exciting story about a digger” then Bertie paints a picture of a crane like his daddy’s. But just as he’s finishing it, a classmate with paint on his shoes tracks green footprints across the paper.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-school

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At lunchtime Bertie trips over his shoelace and spills his lunch. His great day is having some bumps along the way, and Bertie wishes he could see his daddy. Bertie knows just what to do. He runs to the playground and climbs “up, up, UP…to the top of the jungle gym.” Bertie is so high up he “can see the top of Daddy’s tower!” Bertie can even see someone driving the crane and knows it must be his dad.

After lunch the class constructs an enormous tower. Bertie pretends to be a small crane, while his teacher, in her high-heeled shoes, is a big crane, able to place boxes higher and higher. The building they make is amazing! As the day progresses it begins to rain, but when Bertie’s dad picks him up he gives Bertie his hat to keep his ears dry. Bertie is excited to tell his dad about building the tower—it was the best part of his day, he says.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-going-into-school

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At home Bertie tells his dad “the not so good parts” of his day—about his spoiled painting and about tripping and falling. “‘I bet things like that never happen to you, Daddy,’” Bertie says. “‘Well, actually…they do sometimes!’” Bertie’s dad answers, and he tells his son about the bumps in his day—how someone walked across his new, wet cement floor and that he also tripped and fell over an untied shoelace, just like Bertie. But then, his dad says, he went back up in the crane and “‘finished my tower, and I think I saw you, Bertie, on the jungle gym!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-running-home

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of clairealexander.com

“‘It WAS me, Daddy!” Bertie exclaims. Then he asks his dad “if the best part of his day was finishing the tower.” His dad looks at his son snuggled on his lap and answers, “‘Actually, the best part of my day is right now, being here with you, Bertie.” Bertie agrees. “‘I think this is the best part of my day, too.”

Claire Alexander hits all the right notes in her heartfelt tribute to loving father-son relationships. Perfectly paced toward an emotional surprise twist, Alexander’s story is sweet and satisfying. The open communication between father and son adds poignancy, and the truth that while kids are inspired by their parents, parents are equally inspired by their kids may amaze children and will bring a lump to parents’ throats. This father and son aren’t just building towers, they’re building a life-long bond.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-bath

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of clairealexander.com

Alexander’s vivid, cheerful watercolor illustrations glow with the enthusiasm and love that Bertie and his dad feel for each other. Large two-page spreads invite kids into Bertie and his dad’s world as they eat breakfast together in the tidy kitchen, say goodbye outside the school gate, and read together in their comfy, overstuffed chair. Kids will love the view of Bertie’s playground with the gleaming glass tower and red crane rising above it and the sweeping vista of the city as seen by Bertie’s dad from atop the crane. A vertical spread of the tall tower Bertie’s class builds adds a fun element to the story and emphasizes the tower’s height for young children. 

The Best Part of Daddy’s Day  is an excellent addition to a child’s bookshelf and makes a wonderful gift. It will quickly become a favorite for bedtime or story time.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499801965

To see more of adorable books for children by Claire Alexander visit her website!

Father’s Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-building-blocks-craft

I Love Dad Building Blocks

 

This craft will stack up to be a favorite with kids! With wooden blocks and a little chalkboard paint, it’s easy to make unique building materials. They’re great for gifts, decorating, party favors, or when you just have a little time to play!

Supplies

  • Wooden blocks in various sizes, available from craft stores
  • Chalkboard paint in various colors
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk in various colors

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden blocks with the chalkboard paint, let dry
  2. Write words or draw pictures on the blocks
  3. Have fun!

Picture Book Review

June 15 – Smile Power Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-cover

About the Holiday

We smile at people all day long, don’t we? I mean there’s 🙂  😀  🙂  😉  and so many more! But how about the real kind? Giving a warm smile to a friend, a stranger, or—especially—someone who looks as if they need one, makes everyone feel better! Today, be happy and welcome all with a smile!

Welcome

By Barroux

 

A polar bear is sitting on the edge of an ice floe enjoying some relaxing time with his friends when he hears an ominous noise. “CRACK! The ice breaks! ‘We’re drifting away!’” his friends cry. In no time at all the three polar bears are adrift in the middle of the sea in need of a new home. They float and float, but “the water goes on forever!” To pass the time the friends play games: “‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with W…’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-polar-bears-relaxing

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

Perhaps days go by. The bears ride out a storm with dark skies and huge waves that threaten to sink them. It’s scary and the trio wants “to find a new home right now!” At last, their ice floe—smaller now—approaches a sandy shore. “Land! We’re saved,” cheer the polar bears. They ask the cows on the beach if they can live there, but the cows take exception. The bears are “too furry…too tall…and too bear-ish.” And with a “Sorry!” the cows turn the weary travelers away.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-ice-breaks-away

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

Once again on their own, the bears have no choice but to let the current steer them. With standing room for only one on their icy raft, they near another beach where a single panda relaxes on pillows in the midst of expansive land. “Yes! This could be our new home,” the polar bears shout. The panda ponders the situation for only a moment before stating, “‘…you are too many. Look around, there’s just not enough room! You can’t live here.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-polar-bears-meet-cows

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

As the polar bears continue on their journey, their “little ice boat has almost melted,” and they are running out of time. They bob next to a tall sea wall. “‘Help us!’” they plead. Behind the wall two giraffes lounge on the beach, too lazy to investigate the noise they hear. The ice floe has melted to a thin disk. The bears are hanging on and about to give up hope when they find an empty island. They jump to shore just in the nick of time and begin enjoying their new home.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-welcome-barroux-polar-bears-adrift

Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

It’s not long before a dinghy floats into view with three monkeys on board. “‘Excuse me, we’re looking for a new home. Can you help us please?’” they ask. The polar bears stop their game of badminton and step forward. “‘Hmmm,’” they think. “‘You are…

Welcome!’”

With vibrant blue, full-bleed pages as wide open as the sea itself and three endearing long-nosed polar bears, Barroux has crafted a poignant tale with depth and far-reaching applications for readers of all ages. Inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis, Welcome stands on its own as an uplifting story of friendship and inclusiveness, but also offers an excellent means for beginning a discussion on the world events that children see and have questions about. Employing a bear’s first person point of view and incorporating a child-centric perspective on travel—from the humor of the I Spy game to the perseverance of the bears—Barroux sets just the right tone for his audience.

With sparse text and repetition of the bears’ simple request, the subject matter is handled with sensitivity, not fright, which allows children to understand that the theme of the story is relevant on many levels. Whether the “traveler” comes from near or far, is a classmate, teammate or neighbor, or is even the reader or someone else feeling adrift in a certain situation, children will see that all deserve welcome.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499804447

You can view a gallery of illustration work for children, adults, and more by Barroux on his website!

Smile Power Day Activity

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

Give Me Your Hand! 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