February 1 – World Read Aloud Day

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About the Holiday

Sponsored by global non-profit LitWorld and Scholastic, World Read Aloud Day encourages reading aloud to children not only today but every day. Reading aloud to children from birth is one of the best ways to promote language development, improve literacy, and enjoy bonding time together. Millions of people celebrate today’s holiday all across the United States and in more than one hundred countries around the world. Special events are held in schools, libraries, bookstores, homes, and communities, and authors and illustrators hold readings and visit classrooms. To learn more about World Read Aloud Day  and to find stickers, bookmarks, posters, and a reading crown to decorate, visit LitWorld.

Read the Book, Lemmings!

Written by Ame Dyckman | Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

 

On the whale ship S. S. Cliff, first mate Foxy quietly reads a book about lemmings. “‘Huh!’ he said. ‘Says here, lemmings don’t jump off cliffs.’” But even though Foxy emphasizes the word “don’t” the lemmings sitting on the railing only hear the word “jump.” “‘Jump? I’ll jump!’ said a lemming. ‘Me too!’ said a second. ‘Ditto!’ said a third.” And with a long Geronamoooooo! the three lemmings jumped overboard.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read-the-book-lemmings-geronimo

Image copyright Zachariah Ohora, 2017, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2017. Courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Polar Bear Captain PB, engrossed in his newspaper, had just one thing to say. “‘Huh…I guess they didn’t read the book.’” Foxy looked over the side and heard the first lemming shout out “‘Wet! Very wet!’” “‘Me too!’ called the second. ‘Ditto!’ called the third” With a sigh, Foxy took Captain PB’s bucket (with a stern warning not to let the lemmings eat his fish) and hauled the lemmings out of the sea.

On deck, Foxy gave each lemming a name and a hat “so he could scold them properly.” The first jumper was, appropriately, named Jumper; the second was called Me Too; and the third was named Ditto. Foxy held up the book about lemmings and said, “‘Read the book, lemmings!’” The lemmings seemed surprised by what they saw, and Foxy was glad they understood. But did they? Not so much. As soon as Foxy mentioned the word “jump,” it was “Geronimoooo” all over again.

Captain PB was pretty sure they hadn’t read the book. “‘Help! I need help!’ called Jumper. ‘Me too!’ called Me Too. ‘Ditto!’ called Ditto.” Captain PB handed over his bucket with the now lemming-flavored fish, and Foxy once more retrieved Jumper, Me Too, and Ditto from the ocean. He gave them a harsh talking to and was just about to say the fateful word again when he stopped himself and told them to just read the book themselves.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read-the-book-lemmings-foxy

Image copyright Zachariah Ohora, 2017, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2017. Courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

“‘Ahhhhh!’” said the lemmings as they went off with the book. Captain PB was impressed. “‘Good thing you didn’t say jump,’” he told Foxy. Six ears perked up, and….” Geronimooooo!” The three lemmings were sinking fast, so Foxy did what any good first mate would. “Cannonball!” he yelled as he dove into the water. Foxy rescued the lemmings and flopped back on deck.

“‘Saved! I’m saved!’ said Jumper. ‘Me too!’ said Me Too. Ditto opened his mouth. ‘I love you!’” Foxy blinked and said “‘Thank you.’” Still, he wanted to know why the lemmings hadn’t read the book. “‘Can’t! Can’t read!’ said Jumper. ‘Me neither,’ said Me Too. ‘I can burp the alphabet,’ said Ditto.” Captain PB thought this was a good start.

For the rest of the day, Foxy practiced reading with the lemmings until they had it down: “Lemmings… don’t jump…off cliffs.” Foxy was satisfied and went back to reading his book. But the captain could not find his newspaper until…. The paper airplane zoomed by with three lemmings on board, shouting, “‘We fly!.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-read-the-book-lemmings-saved

Image copyright Zachariah Ohora, 2017, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2017. Courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Ame Dyckman’s laugh-out-loud story is pure genius, filled with personality and characters that make Read the Book, Lemmings! a perfect book for dramatic and spirited read-aloud story times. The sweet, reactive lemmings offer plenty of hilarity and opportunities for kids to chime in, while Foxy and Captain PB are terrific foils for the frolicking lemmings and their foibles. The nod to literacy is given a light touch that is sure to resonate with young readers, and which in the end reveals a truth worth repeating: with the ability to read, anyone can soar.

Zachariah Ohora’s little balls of fluff are as adorable as they come. Who can fault them for having so much fun following their instincts as they jump overboard with a gusty “Geronimoooo!”? Clever details, such as a whale as a fishing trawler and the life ring sporting the name S. S. Cliff, are inspired. Readers will love the graphic novel elements that make it easy to follow the dialog and the expressive characters who, as Ditto reveals, love each other.

Read the Book, Lemmings! is highly recommended and would be an often-asked-for addition to home, classroom, and library shelves. The book would also make a much-appreciated gift.

Ages 5 – 8

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0316343480

Discover more about Ame Dyckman and her books on her website.

Learn more about Zachariah Ohora and his books and view a portfolio of his work on his website.

Jump right into watching this Read the Book, Lemmings! book trailer

World Read Aloud Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-chocolate-chip-mug-cookie-from-genius-kitchen

Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

 

There’s really only one activity that is just right for today! So, why not make some hot chocolate or a chocolate chip mug cookie and settle in for a night of reading together? Here’s a recipe for a delicious mug cookie from geniuskitchen.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk (2% works well)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 (or more) tablespoons of dark chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate, the amount used may depend on the size of the chips)

Directions

  1. Place butter and milk in a mug and microwave for 30 seconds or until butter melts
  2. Stir in brown sugar
  3. Stir in vanilla and salt
  4. Add flour and stir until smooth
  5. Stir in 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
  6. Add more chocolate chips on top if desired
  7. Bake in microwave oven on High for about 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, depending on the consistency you like
  8. Can top with ice cream, if desired.

Picture Book Review

December 26 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

Do you have new books to read? Yeah, me too! Today, why not avoid the crush of shoppers at the mall and settle in with a good book. Sometimes all you want to hear is the crinkle of pages turning and the sound featured in today’s book!

The Sound of Silence

Written by Katrina Goldsaito | Illustrated by Julia Kuo

 

Early on a rainy morning, little Yoshio opened his door and ventured out. “The sounds of the city swirled all around him—Tokyo was like a symphony hall!” As he made his way through the crowded streets, he listened to his footsteps in the puddles and the rain on his umbrella. Suddenly, above all the other noises, Yoshio heard a Koto player carefully tuning her instrument. The sound was “high then low, squeaky and vibrating—amazing!” When the Koto player began a song, “the notes were twangy and twinkling; they tickled Yoshio’s ears!” Yoshio told the old woman that he had never heard a sound like that. The koto player’s laugh was like the tinkling chimes in his mother’s garden.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-sound-of-silence-rain

Image copyright Julia Kuo, 2016, text copyright Katrina Goldsaito, 2016. Courtesy of juliakuo.com.

Yoshio asked the old woman if she had a favorite sound. Her answer surprised him. “‘The most beautiful sound, is the sound of ma, of silence.” Yoshio ran off to school, wondering where he could hear silence. All day, Yoshio listened for silence, but his classroom was too noisy and even in the bamboo grove near the playground, the wind through the stalks made “takeh-takeh-takeh” and “swish-swish-swish” sounds.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-sound-of-silence-city

Copyright Julia Kuo, 2016, courtesy of juliakuo.com.

On the way home from school, Yoshio was alert to discover the sound of silence, but cars and buses honked, the trains whooshed by, and the traffic lights beeped. At home, the dinner table was alive with the sounds “of chopsticks and slurping and chewing and swallowing,” and the bathtub rang with the patter of water droplets and swirling eddies.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-sound-of-silence-dinner

Image copyright Julia Kuo, 2016, text copyright Katrina Goldsaito, 2016. Courtesy of juliakuo.com.

Maybe nighttime would bring silence, Yoshio thought. He tried to stay awake until everyone else was asleep, “but his eyes got heavy and then heavier, and soon the sound of a distant radio became part of his dreams.” Yoshio woke to the barking of a dog and listened to his sisters calling his name. “Where was silence?” Yoshio hurried to school. He was the first one there, and the gate creaked as he opened it. His shoes shuffled in the hall on the way to his classroom.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-sound-of-silence-school

Image copyright Julia Kuo, 2016, text copyright Katrina Goldsaito, 2016. Courtesy of juliakuo.com.

When he got there, he sat at his desk and took his favorite book out of his bag. “He loved this story, and as he read, he forgot where he was. Suddenly, in the middle of a page, he heard it.” He listened. “Everything felt still inside him. Peaceful, like the garden after it snowed. Like feather-stuffed futons drying in the sun. Silence had been there all along…. It was between and underneath every sound. And it had been there all along.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-sound-of-silence-crowd

Image copyright Julia Kuo, 2016, courtesy of juliakuo.com.

Katrina Goldsaito’s beautiful text hums with descriptions of sound that are both lyrical and tangible, allowing readers to hear the world through Yoshio’s ears. As children join Yoshio in his hunt for silence, they may find themselves becoming more aware of the sounds—and the ma—in their own lives.

The streets of Tokyo come to life in Julia Kuo’s illustrations that combine classic style and modern elements tied together with a fresh color palette. Readers will love lingering over the pages to catch sight of favorite characters from Japanese video games, toys, and books, and those who are familiar with the city will enjoy a bit of armchair traveling as they recognize buildings, businesses, and other landmarks. Yoshio is sweetly earnest as he searches for silence, and children will happily follow his yellow umbrella and red hat from page to page. The first two-page spread of Yoshio throwing open the door from his home rendered in white to the color-drenched city outside is stirring and an apt and surprising imagining of the story’s theme.

The Sound of Silence is an enchanting book that can inspire children to experience life in a new and deeper way and would be a welcome addition to home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8 

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0316203371

Discover more about Katrina Goldsaito and her work on her website

To learn more about Julia Kuo, her books, and her art visit her website.

Read a New Book Month Activity

CPB - Bookworm Book (2)

I’m a Bookworm Bookmark

 

Feeling like wriggling into a new book? Use this I’m a Bookworm Bookmark to keep your place when you finish reading!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the I”m a Bookworm Bookmark on regular or heavy paper
  2. Cut along the mouth line to make a slit that can fit over the top of a page to mark it

Picture Book Review

 

December 25 – National Pumpkin Pie Day

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About the Holiday

As families gather for winter holiday or special family dinners, the pumpkin gets top billing at the dessert table. Pumpkin pie is a traditional favorite with its spicy flavor and its down-home goodness. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and pumpkin pie is as sweet as can be!

You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie

Written by Amy E. Sklansky | Illustrated by Talitha Shipman

 

In a big cozy, chair next to a roaring fire, a mom snuggles with her little boy. In a pretty nursery dotted with stars, a dad watches his tiny daughter, who’s learning to crawl. He tells her, “You light up any room / with your grin so big and wide.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-you-are-my-little-pumpkin-pie-fireplace

Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2013, text copyright Amy E. Sklansky, 2013. courtesy of amysklansky.com.

In a bright and homey kitchen, a mother sprinkles the final touches on a pumpkin pie while her toddler helps. She says, “Your scent is just delightful— / like cinnamon and spice.” Outside, a mom and baby bundled up in the chilly weather share a hug, and the mom confesses, “Each time I kiss your yummy cheek, / I have to kiss it twice.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-you-are-my-little-pumpkin-pie-father

Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2013, text copyright Amy E. Sklansky, 2013. courtesy of amysklansky.com.

At a farm, as Dad and his little one pick the perfect pumpkin, Dad wraps his arms around his child and says, “Your hugs are irresistible / Because you’re such a treat.” A mom playing with her daughter smiles and tells her, “I love to make you giggle. / No sound is quite as sweet.” In another home, dinner has been served and it’s time for dessert, but who are the parents praising as the “star of any feast”—the pumpkin pie or their children? The happy kids know the answer! And a baby drifts off to sleep with the sweet assurance, “You’re my little pumpkin pie, / Each and every piece.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-you-are-my-little-pumpkin-pie-kitchen

Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2013, text copyright Amy E. Sklansky, 2013. courtesy of amysklansky.com.

Parents and other caregivers will love cuddling up with their little one and sharing the endearing rhymes in Amy E. Sklansky’s sweet tribute to the most special of relationships. The tender phrases on each page echo the spontaneous bursts of wonder, amazement, and of course love that fill an adult’s heart while thinking about or interacting with their child. The affection expressed with each verse will delight little ones.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-you-are-my-little-pumpkin-pie-kisses

Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2013, text copyright Amy E. Sklansky, 2013. courtesy of amysklansky.com.

Talitha Shipman’s colorful and cozy illustrations embrace the parent-child relationship with depictions of the gestures, smiles, and assurances adults share with children. Little ones, sitting on Mom or Dad’s lap will be charmed by the happy faces of the babies and toddlers on each page and feel that same warm comfort. Extended fun can be found in discovering the pumpkin or pumpkins as well as the accompanying orange theme on each spread.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-you-are-my-little-pumpkin-pie-pumpkin-farm

Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2013, courtesy of talithashipman.com.

You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie is a board book that little ones will want to hear again and again and that parents and other caregiver will love to share. It would make a wonderful gift and a sweet addition to any home bookshelf.

Ages 2 – 4

Little Brown Books for Young People. 2013 | ISBN 978-0316207140

Discover more about Amy E. Sklansky and her books on her website

To learn more about Talitha Shipman, her books, and her art, visit her website

National Pumpkin Pie Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pumpkin-pie-coloring-page

Yummy Pumpkin Pie Coloring Page

 

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse…because he was eating pumpkin pie?! Sure! Have fun coloring this printable Yummy Pumpkin Pie Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

November 20 – It’s Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week

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About the Holiday

Animals and humans coexist on Earth in so many amazing ways. Our pets are beloved family members, we interact and care for the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and other backyard animals that we see every day, and we are mindful of and should be caretakers of the wild animals that inhabit the plains, mountains, and seas of our planet. Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week was established by the Animals & Society Institute, which “helps improve and expand knowledge about human-animal relationships in order to create safer and more compassionate communities for all.” Over this week people are encouraged to think about companion animals, assistance animals, animals in shelters, and the safety and well-being of the animals in our care. To celebrate, spend more time with your pet and consider donating to your local animal shelter or wildlife organization.

Children Make Terrible Pets

By Peter Brown

 

One day Lucy Beatrice Bear was practicing ballet when she smelled someone nearby. She ordered whoever it was to come out. “Squeak,” said the little boy. When he emerged from his hiding place and Lucy got a good look at him, she was delighted. “OH. MY. GOSH! You are the cutest critter in the WHOLE forest!” she exclaimed. “Squeak,” said the boy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-meets-squeaker (2)

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Lucy picked him up and raced home. She burst in where her mom was reading and held him up. “Look what I found outside! I call him Squeaker because he makes funny sounds.” She begged her mom to let her keep him. Lucy’s mom scolded her daughter for bringing a child into the house, reminding her, “Don’t you know children make terrible pets?” But Lucy pleaded and showed her mom how cute he was and assured her that he would be no trouble.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-can-I-keep-him

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Finally, Lucy’s mom relented—but with one stipulation: Lucy had to take care of him herself. Lucy agreed and told her mom that she’d see that this child would be “the best -+pet EVER.” Lucy and Squeaker did everything together, but while they had fun playing, eating, and napping together, having Squeaker as a pet wasn’t all a bed of roses. For one thing, he was hard to litter box train. He also ran wild and tore up the furniture, tracked in mud, threw food, and even swung from the chandelier.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-playing-together

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Then suddenly, Squeaker disappeared. Lucy searched everywhere, but just as she was about to give up, “her sensitive nose caught a whiff of her Squeaker.” Lucy followed her nose all through the forest until she finally found him. But as Lucy watched Squeaker having a picnic lunch with three other humans outside a house, “Squeaker didn’t seem like a pet anymore.” Sadly, Lucy said goodbye to Squeaker and headed back home. On the way she thought about how much she would miss him but decided it was all for the best.

When she got home, she told her mom all about it and had to agree that her mom had been right. “Children do make terrible pets,” she said. But she knew the elephant she found would be just perfect….

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-Lucy-agrees-with-mom

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Peter Brown’s flip-flop of the “Mom-can-I-keep-him” story will have all readers laughing along—pet owners because they know what a new animal in the house can do, adults because they know what shenanigans little ones can get up to, and kids because…well, the story’s so funny. Brown’s dialog between Lucy and her mother perfectly reflects children’s unbridled zeal when they really, really want something and a parent’s wariness of giving in to a request. On the final page as Lucy finds another pet to love, kids share the knowledge of their own boundless capacity for enthusiasm.

Brown’s illustrations delight with the uninhibited zest kids have for adventures as well as their ability to move on from a disappointment to something new. Lucy’s eager expressions will make kids giggle and adults smile knowingly. Squeaker’s silent acquiescence to being adopted by Lucy and his wild behavior humorously depict children’s readiness for pretend play.

Ages 4 – 7

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010 | ISBN 978-0316015486

You can learn more about Peter Brown, his books, and his art as well as find coloring pages and activity sheets on his website.

Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-matching-animal-matching-game

Animal Matching Game

 

There are so many animals to love! Play this fun matching game to find pairs of favorite animals!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print two sheets of the Animal Matching Cards for each player
  2. Color the cards (optional)
  3. Cut the cards apart
  4. Scramble the cards and lay them out face-side down
  5. Choosing one card at a time, turn one face up and then another.
  6. If the two cards match leave them face up
  7. If the two cards do not match lay them face down and try again.
  8. As you find matching pairs, leave the cards face up until all the pairs have been found.
  9. If playing against other players, the first to match all their animal cards is the winner

Picture Book Review

October 22 – National Nut Day

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About the Holiday

No, no, no…we’re not going there. Today is a culinary holiday. Today we celebrate cashews, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and all the others. Nuts are nutritious, providing a good source of vitamins, protein, fiber, and important minerals. Eating nuts on a regular basis can also help keep your heart healthy. So crack open some nuts today and have a feast!

The Nuts: Keep Rolling!

Written by Eric Litwin | Illustrated by Scott Magoon

 

The nut family was enjoying a picnic in the beautiful, hilly outdoors. Everything was great, except Hazel really wished she was bigger and taller so she could reach the apples on a nearby tree. Wally also felt pretty small, but he had a plan. So while Hazel leaped from a rock to try and nab an apple, Wally was busy covering himself with mud. Hazel caught on and pat-patted mud on herself until she was encased in a nice, thick layer.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

Then down the hill “they rolled through sticky / mud and goo. / The more they rolled, / the bigger they grew.” And while they bounced along, “they sang this song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.” As they rolled down the muddy lane they picked up layer upon layer of dirt, sticks, and leaves until “they were the size of cats.”

Being this big was fantastic “until…a pack of dogs came over the hill.”  Hazel and Wally rolled faster to escape, while all the time singing their song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.” Soon, they were as big as the dogs chasing them. They bounded along “until…the dogcatcher came over the hill. Oh, No!” What could they do? You know: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-nuts-keep-rolling-zoo-keeper

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

They hurtled along over gardens and wood piles, growing bigger and bigger until they became as large as elephants. Their little giggles became big laughs “until…the zookeeper came over the hill. Oh, No!” But they were much too fast for him, and as they flew down the road they sang their song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-nuts-keep-rolling-walking-down-hills

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

But suddenly “It started to rain. / The sky turned gray. / The mud and the goo / were all washed away.” Hazel and Wally kept rolling, becoming “smaller and smaller and smaller.” They were back to their original size and discovered they were far from home. But Wally and Hazel knew the way back and knew how to get there quickly too. And all the way they sang their song: “Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling. Keep Rolling.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-nuts-keep-rolling-walking-on-path

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

Their mama and papa were so happy to see them, and Hazel and Wally were glad to be back in their home so “cozy and bright.” Then Mama and Papa Nut / hugged them so tight.” Their adventure had taught them a thing about happiness, and now they knew “even though they were small…when you have each other, then you have it all.”

Little ones will giggle, laugh and love to roll with Hazel and Wally and this charming nut family. There’s even a free song and dance download provided. The Nuts: Keep Rolling! would make a much-appreciated gift and a fun addition to home bookshelves for read- aloud story times.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-nuts-keep-rolling-rainbow

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

With his talent for writing catchy story/song mashups, Eric Litwin has created another rollicking picture book that little ones will want to hear again and again. Kids will love joining Hazel and Wally in the “growth spurts” that allow them to become as big as their imaginations. Litwin’s funny repartee and gentle suspense will excite kids as they read and sing along. The sweet message that even though they may be little, they play a big part in the family will delight children.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-nuts-keep-rolling-hazel

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin. Courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

Scott Magoon’s dazzling blue sky and green hills set this story in motion as Wally and Hazel find a way to make their wish to be bigger come true. Readers get an inside view as Hazel and Wally keep rolling and pick up layer upon layer of mud, leaves, and sticks. Magoon uses these natural accents to ingeniously define the eyes, ears, and noses of the cats, dogs, and elephants the little nuts become on their jaunt. Adorable Hazel and Wally smile, giggle, and laugh their way through the amusing-not-menacing “dangers,” letting little ones fully enjoy the fun of this boisterous story. The tender final spread is full of warmth and love as this diverse family reunites.

Ages 3 – 6

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0316322515

Check out all of the books, music, and fun stuff for kids by Eric Litwin on his website.

There’s a whole gallery of books and illustration work by Scott Magoon on his website.

You’ll go nuts for this The Nuts: Keep Rolling! book trailer!

National Nut Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-acorn-pumpkins-craft

Nutty Pumpkins and Jack O’Lanterns

 

With acorns falling tap, tap, tap in bushels on the ground and other delicious nuts readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets, autumn is the perfect time for this craft that turns nuts into pumpkins!

Supplies

  • Acorns or walnuts
  • Orange multi-surface acrylic craft paint or spray paint  
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brush
  • Black, fine tip marker

Directions

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-acorn-pumpkins-craft (3)

For Acorns

  1. Remove the caps
  2. If using acorns for crafts that will be kept long-term, follow these Directions for Drying Acorns
  3. Hold the acorn with the flat side down. The little tip will serve as the pumpkin’s stem.
  4. Paint the acorn, leaving the just the tip brown, let dry
  5. With the flat side down, draw a face on your “pumpkin.” Let dry
  6. Use your little pumpkin in decorations around your house or make a tiny pumpkin patch in a box or jar lid with paper, sticks, leaves or other material

For Walnuts

  1. If you live in an area where there are no oak trees, you can use walnuts or other nuts available in grocery stores. These do not need to be baked before using.
  2. Paint and decorate according to the directions For Acorns

Picture Book Review

August 25 – It’s American Artist Appreciation Month

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About the Holiday

This month we honor the artists of the past and those currently creating work that represents, reflects, and translates the world we live in. There are as many ways of making art as there are artists, so take some time this month to visit an art museum or gallery, to look online or read a book and discover life in a whole new way.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

By Javaka Steptoe

 

“Somewhere in Brooklyn, between hearts that thump, double Dutch, and hopscotch / and salty mouths that slurp sweet ice, a little boy dreams of being a famous artist.” All day Jean-Michel sits surrounded by colored pencils and “a storm of papers” and draws. As he sleeps his dreams swirl with images. When he wakes he adds to his drawings, scribbling away. What he creates is “sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still beautiful.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-radiant-child-beautiful-art

Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

Jean-Michel’s talent comes from his Puerto Rican mother, who has a natural sense of style and design and who always makes time to draw with her son, lying on the floor next to him. She takes Jean-Michel to art museums and theaters and reads poetry to him, but she also shows him the art of the city—its sounds, sights, style, and “patchwork” colors. Jean-Michel loves to visit the museum and read about the artwork and the artists. From these stories he “learns what it means to be a famous artist.”

When Jean-Michel is seriously injured in a car accident, his world seems scary and confusing. His mother gives him an anatomy book, which he memorizes. It erases his fears and becomes influential in his work. After returning home, his life changes when his mother suffers a breakdown and can no longer live at home. “He tries drawing the terrible out of his blues, but things are not the same.” Jean-Michel visits his mother when he can, “always bringing his artwork to show, telling her that one day it will be in a museum, ‘when I am a famous artist.’”

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Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

As a teenager, Jean-Michel follows his dream, moving from Brooklyn to New York City. There he stays with friends, painting, creating collages, and writing poems on paper strewn about him. At night he paints on city walls, trash cans, and other urban canvases. His art, signed ‘Samoo,’ attracts attention. People wonder: “‘Who is Samoo?’”

Soon his art can be found in art galleries and hanging in the homes of the people who buy his work. Jean-Michel continues to create, listening to “a sound track that is all his own.” Through talent, inspiration, and his mother’s loving influence, Jean-Michel Basquiat conquered the art world, becoming a king among artists, and fulfilling his desire to be a famous artist.

An extensive Author’s Note about Jean-Michel Basquait’s life, including his struggles with addiction and his death in 1988; the motifs and symbolism in his work; and a personal comment on the impact Basquait’s art had on the author, follow the text.

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Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

Javaka Steptoe’s compelling biography of this complex, brilliant artist who people called “radiant, wild, a genius child” beautifully brings to life the inspirations and motivations that fueled his unique and intense talent. Steptoe delivers the story in staccato and flowing sentences, using consonance, assonance, and repetition—the rhythms of a poet. He shows how Basquiat maintained his focused determination, self-confidence, and persistence from childhood into adulthood. This perseverance reveals to readers that success is not a matter of luck, but of belief in oneself despite obstacles. Steptoe sensitively addresses the serious injury Basquiat suffered, his mother’s mental illness and Basquiat’s continued love for her, and his unsettled teenage years to complete this far-reaching life story.

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Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

Steptoe’s mixed-media paintings were created on found wood from neighborhoods across New York City. While Steptoe does not reproduce any of Basquiat’s work, he states that readers will find “original pieces that were inspired by him and my interpretations of his paintings and designs.” As befitting his subject, Steptoe offers pages that burst with vibrant color and intricate details and beat with the pulse of the city, the people, the dreams, and the imagination that Basquiat transcribed onto paper, walls, and canvas. Part collage, part fine art, Steptoe’s illustrations will fascinate children and entice them to linger and take in the emotion and meaning in each. The final spread, a crowd scene made up of photographs, sets Basquiat in the midst of people whom he and his art continue to inspire.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat offers children an inspirational model of creativity, compassion, and confidence no matter where their talents lie. The book is an excellent choice for school, public, and home libraries.

Ages 6 – 10

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0316213882

Learn more about Javaka Steptoe, his books, art exhibitions, and life on his website!

American Artist Appreciation Day Activity

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Make Art from Found Objects

 

Each person finds inspiration in different things, places, and people. Today, try to create something new from the materials around you. Boxes, bottles, wire, magazines, cloth, wood, sponges—almost anything—can be transformed with some imagination. With those old socks, corks, flower pots, candle stubs, bits of ribbon, clementine crate, paint, glitter, beads, and more, you can make something useful, a decoration for your room, or even a gift for a friend!

Picture Book Review

August 12 – International Youth Month

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About the Holiday

International Youth Day was established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 in 2015. Since then there has been “growing recognition that as agents of change, young people are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace.” The theme for 2017 is Youth Building Peace and celebrates “young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.” Children and young adults have many paths to travel as they grow up. We should all work to make the world a better and safer place to live in as they journey through life.

Wherever You Go

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller | Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

 

“When it’s time for a journey, to learn and to grow, / roads guide your footsteps wherever you go. / Roads give you chances to seek and explore. / Want an adventure? / Just open your door.”

So opens this lovely, inspirational picture book that looks at life through the metaphor of those sometimes straightforward, sometimes winding, but always intriguing roads. In these pages “Roads…go” over hills, under bridges, and through valleys. They can take you past vast seas and small streams. “Roads…zoom” through brightly lit cities, and “bend,” taking you on detours “you wouldn’t expect, / showing you various ways to connect.”

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Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, 2016, text copyright Pat Zietlow Miller. Courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Roads can bring you closer to your dreams or veer away, giving you choices on whether “to go? / Or to stay?” “Roads…reach” from shore to shore or mountain to mountain, “attaching two places that once were apart.” You can “choose to cross over. Follow your heart.” Some roads are small—built with only one lane, but they merge with another “and the two become one.”

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Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of hachettebookgroup.com

With time and change “Roads…grow,” becoming longer and wider and more populated with people you know and those you don’t—yet. Often “Roads…wait. For click-clacking trains / and boats with tall sails. / Slow-going hay wagons carrying bales. / Stoplights and crosswalks, a deer with a friend. / Roads sometimes pause, or just come to an end.”

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Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, 2015, text copyright Pat Zietlow Miller. Courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Roads also rise to dizzying heights and the sense of accomplishment is well worth the climb. From on top “Roads…remember. Every life landmark, the big and the small. / The moments you tripped, the times you stood tall.” At last when you’re ready there are roads that will help you find your way home. So… “Which path should you choose? / That’s easy to see. / The one that will take you / where you wish to be.”

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Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, 2015, text copyright Pat Zietlow Miller. Courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Pat Zietlow Miller’s lyrical journey down the paths life presents is an enchanting quiet-time and story-time read. Wherever You Go also offers parents, caregivers, and teachers a wonderful opportunity to discuss the concepts of self-confidence and self-respect and also the idea that life is made up of many different experiences that can be accepted or rejected like alternate routes on a map. Miller’s rhymes flow as smoothly as a wide open country road, soaring and winding on her exquisite descriptions and word choices. Adult readers may well find a catch in their throat as they read the last line to their children.

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Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, 2016, text copyright Pat Zietlow  Miller. Courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Eliza Wheeler captures not only the literal meanings of the lines in Wherever You Go, but also the heart and thoughts of life’s travels. Her soft-hued watercolor-and-ink illustrations glow with the promise and possibilities encountered on life’s roads. Intricate details fill every page to show readers that their journeys are shared with others. Children will enjoy following the main character, a rabbit who rides a bike along a chosen path, but they will also love keeping track of traveling companions met along the way.

Wherever You Go is a fabulous book for all children and makes a wonderful gift for baby showers, new babies, and graduations. The gender-neutral text offers inclusiveness for all.

Ages 4 – 9 (and up)

Little Brown and Company, 2015 | ISBN 978-0316400022

Discover more about Pat Zietlow Miller, her books, and her writing life on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork and a gallery of books by Eliza Wheeler on her website!

Before taking off on your journey, watch this Wherever You Go book trailer!

International Youth Day Activity

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Kids around the World Poster

 

Kids all around the world are working to make the world a more peaceful place. Print, color, and hang this Kids around the World Poster to remind you that you can make a difference through the various roads you choose to take!

Picture Book Review