January 22 – Celebration of Life Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday is all about celebrating the children and grandchildren in our lives and what makes each one truly unique. When you watch your own children or those in your care grow and develop their own personalities, talents, and dreams, you realize that each one is an individual with a bright future ahead of them. Today, honor each child’s exceptional character! Ask your children what they want from life, what their opinions are, and what is important to them. Then incorporate some of those things into your daily life. Take the opportunity also to encourage your children, support them, and—most of all—tell them how much you love them every day.

You Belong Here

Written by M.H. Clark | Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

 

“The stars belong in the deep night sky / and the moon belongs there too, / and the winds belong in each place they blow by / and I belong here with you.” This beautiful opening verse embraces readers and carries them on a journey to the sea, where whales and fish, waves and the shore, dunes and grasses all live in harmony the way they are meant to. In the forest, trees, animals, and birds have their own places, and, likewise, a child is reassured that “you belong where you love to be” and that at home they will always find the companionship of someone who loves them.

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Copyright Isabelle Aresenault, 2016, text copyright M.H. Clark, 2016. Courtesy of Compendium.

Just as frogs and turtles, otters and carp find homes in lakes, ponds, and streams where the water is right for them, and hares, foxes, and lizards belong on their own bits of land, “the crickets belong in the old stone wall / and the bees belong in the clover.” And what about the child snuggling in loving arms? “You are a dream that the world once dreamt / and now you are part of its song. / That’s why you are here, in the place where you’re meant, / for this is right where you belong.”

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Copyright Isabelle Aresenault, 2016, text copyright M.H. Clark, 2016. Courtesy of Compendium.

So, the pine trees and bears and each creature of the air, land, and sea “is perfectly home right there / in the place where it belongs to be.” And the child can know that wherever they go and whatever they choose to see, “I will always belong right here with you, / and you’ll always belong with me.”

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Copyright Isabelle Aresenault, 2016, text copyright M.H. Clark, 2016. Courtesy of Compendium.

M.H. Clark’s lyrical love letter to a child is a warm hug that clasps the little listener close to the adult reader’s heart. Clark’s gorgeous examples of perfect pairings in nature encompass not only animals that children will be familiar with but also the flowers and trees, rocks and caves, waterways and weather that are also woven into the formation and patterns of life, giving the story a feeling of the cyclical and constant that echoes love itself. The rhythm of the story floats like a dreamy lullaby, making this a wonderful book to share at bedtime for even the youngest children. It’s message is one that all children can appreciate no matter how old they are.

Isabelle Arsenault accompanies each verse with striking, softly hued illustrations that place whales, deer, otters, foxes, and all the other animals and their young in their particular environment. Her gorgeously blended images enhance the reader’s appreciation for the perfection of nature’s construction and reinforces the assurance that each child and adult belong together now and always. Interspersing the natural settings are views of various types of homes from city apartments to small towns to a secluded home in the woods. A whimsical spread in which a child’s hand can be seen placing wooden puzzle pieces of a hare, whale, bear, carp, and turtle into their appropriate slot adds another layer of understanding for young children and may cause them to think about their own place of belonging when playing on their own.

A touching gift for Valentine’s Day, baby showers, new babies, new siblings, and any child, You Belong Here belongs on every child’s home bookshelf as well as in classroom and public libraries.

Ages Birth and up

Compendium, 2016 | ISBN 978-1938298998

To learn more about Isabelle Arsenault, her books, and her art, visit her website

Celebration of Life Day Activity

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Spool Photo Holder

 

With this easy craft you can make a personalized photo holder for a child’s room that holds pictures of family and friends to show children who they “belong with.”

Supplies

  • Wooden spool with hole through the middle, top to bottom. (A spool without a hole also works if you make a hole in the top with a hammer and nail), 1½ -inch or larger, available at craft stores
  • Colorful twine or light-gauge yarn, 3 to 4 yards
  • Alternatively: you can buy a wooden spool of colorful twine at some craft and discount stores
  • 3 pieces of light-gauge wire 12 to 15-inches long
  • Clay or play dough
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Fill hole in spool with clay or play dough, pushing it well in to provide a base for the wire
  2. Wrap the twine or yarn around the spool to desired thickness
  3. Glue down the end of the twine to keep it from unraveling
  4. With the needle-nose pliers, roll down one end of the wire to create a small coil
  5. Repeat with two other lengths of wire
  6. Cut the three wires to different lengths to provide room for all three photographs
  7. Fit the three wires into the center hole on the top of the spool
  8. Push the wires into the clay until they are held securely
  9. Clip photographs into the coils
  10. Display your pictures!

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You can find You Belong Here at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

June 19 – World Sauntering Day

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About the Holiday

In 1979 as the jogging craze was sweeping the world, W.T. “Bill” Rabe decided people needed to be reminded to slow down and really notice the things around them. At the time Rabe worked at the the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, which boasts the world’s longest porch at 660 feet (200 m). Since that time people are encouraged to celebrate Sauntering Day by taking a long walk and enjoying the relaxation of a slower pace.

Tiny, Perfect Things

Written by M.H. Clark | Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper

 

A little girl and her grandfather head outside for a walk. “Today, we keep our eyes open for tiny, perfect things,” the girl says. The first thing they find is a yellow leaf that has fluttered down from a nearby tree. While the girl is examining the leaf, she notices an intricate “spider’s web that’s caught the light.” Then Grandpa lifts her up to see “a snail that had climbed the fence last night.” 

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Image copyright Madeline Kloepper, 2018, text copyright M.H. Clark. Courtesy of Compendium.

Crows overhead watch the pair and guard the treasures they’ve hidden in their nest. One drops a red bottle cap for Grandpa to find. The little girl and her grandfather also see a red flower pushing up through a crack in the sidewalk and a man wearing a hat with a long, red feather. Farther on, the girl realizes their “shadows are holding hands,” waking when they walk and standing when they stand.

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Image copyright Madeline Kloepper, 2018, text copyright M.H. Clark. Courtesy of Compendium.

They wave to a neighbor and her cat and admire a shiny apple “way up high. / Red against the blue, blue sky.” As twilight falls and bunnies, birds, and other creatures settle in, a pale moon rises. The cold night air prompts the little girl and her grandfather to start back home. Around the corner, they see their house. A welcoming light is on, and a pretty white cat waits for them at the door.

The girl runs to her mother and exclaims, “We found so many things today! / A leaf, a snail, a cat, some crows. / The world is full of wonders, / no matter where we go.” She sits on the rug and draws all the tiny, perfect things they saw, ready to go out again tomorrow.

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Image copyright Madeline Kloepper, 2018, text copyright M.H. Clark. Courtesy of Compendium.

M.H. Clark’s gorgeously written, lyrical story shines a light on seemingly simple aspects of nature and neighborhoods. As seen through a child’s eyes, leaves, snails, the surprise meeting of familiar people and pets, and even a change in light and temperature are gems to be remembered, recorded, and sought out again and again. The gentle pace and affection between the little girl and her grandfather makes each page a joy to read, and the love and warmth of the girl’s mixed race, multigenerational family will swell the reader’s heart. Clark’s final line invites children to find “perfect things” wherever they go. It’s a call both kids and adults will want to answer.

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Image copyright Madeline Kloepper, 2018, text copyright M.H. Clark. Courtesy of Compendium.

Madeline Kloepper’s lush illustrations combine sophistication with the sensibility of a child’s drawing to beautifully reflect the child’s-eye view of Clark’s story. With deep earth tones, Kloepper depicts a neighborhood teeming with life while also showing that the little girl and her grandfather are one with the natural world. Through various perspectives, Kloepper points out that astonishing things can be found at ground level, up high, and in surprising nooks and crannies if one just takes time to look. Each page depicts the object described in the text and then offers many more “tiny, perfect things” for alert readers to discover. A final double gate fold will have kids and adults sitting on the floor or spreading out at the table together to search for all of the wondrous things hidden in plain sight.

A book that opens readers eyes while warming their heart, Tiny, Perfect Things would be a much-loved addition to any child’s home bookshelf and is a must for classroom, school, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Compendium, 2018 | ISBN 978-1946873064

To learn more about Madeline Kloepper, her art, and her books, visit her website.

World Sauntering Day Activity

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My Nature Journal 

 

You can remember the things you see on a walk in this Nature Journal. Just print the cover, add pages, and staple it together. Then draw the flowers, trees, birds, snails, and things you see. You can tape leaves and other small objects inside too!

My Nature Journal Cover 

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You can find Tiny, Perfect Things at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

April 28 – National Superhero Day

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About the Holiday

Today, we celebrate superheroes—both fictional and real—who make the world a better place. While fictional superheroes have uncommon strength, endless courage, and powers that defy nature, it doesn’t take super abilities to make a difference. Teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, firefighters, and soldiers are just some of the professions that require the commitment and dedication of superheroes. Moms, dads, and kids all over the world are also fighting to make positive change. Discover your special abilities today and begin your life as someone’s superhero.

Superpowers! A Great Big Collection of Awesome Activities, Quirky Questions, and Wonderful Ways to See Just How Super You Already Are

Written by M.H. Clark | Illustrated by Michael Byers

 

Have you ever wondered if you could be a superhero? Pretty much everyone imagines what kind of superpower they’d like—invisibility, super speed, super strength, maybe the ability to fly. What if someone told you you already are a superhero? And even showed you a way to prove it? Superpowers! is that someone. Well, actually, you are that someone. What do I mean? Come along and see!

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Image copyright Michael Byers, 2017, text copyright M.H. Clark, 2017. Courtesy of Compendium.

As you turn to the first page, you’re greeted enthusiastically. Why? The narrator was anticipating that question. The answer is: “Because…the whole world needs you. And we need you to turn on your superpowers.” You might be feeling astonished right now or maybe you’re even laughing. But it’s true—you have superpowers. And the world needs “you and your superpowers. Every day.” So get started on discovering your powers! 

First, you’re going to do a little self-reflecting. “What does it feel like when you are you?” Think deeply, think quietly, think honestly. “What makes you so amazing?” A few words that might apply are already provided. What are some others? Write them down or draw them—right in the book! Great job! The next page has some questions about the things you love to do. And there are a few more about what makes you uniquely you because being a superhero “isn’t about being someone who you aren’t—it’s about being really who you are.”

Next there’s a page where your friends can write or draw what they think your superpowers are. Do you think they’re right? Have you ever thought about looking inside yourself just like you look at your outside self? Is your outside appearance and how you feel inside the same? Often it’s helpful to remind yourself of “things you didn’t used to be able to do, but NOW you can.” You’ll be amazed at what a long list you can make!

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Image copyright Michael Byers, 2017, text copyright M.H. Clark, 2017. Courtesy of Compendium.

Would you like to put the word out about you and your superpowers? There’s a letter you can fill in that’s sure to introduce you well. Okay, now that people know you’re out there, it’s time to work on your super identity. What is your superhero name? Write it on the blinged-out sign right on the next page. Now, you need a mission. “What is one good thing you would like to do for yourself, your family, your friends, your school, the world?” Write or draw those things too!

Sometimes knowing what you don’t like or aren’t so interested in doing is important too. It’s okay to have things like that. No one can like everything. It can be hard to admit your “anti-superpowers,” but it’s good to able to do it, so there’s a page where you can. Then it’s on to filling up your superpower tool kit. These tools can be anything! What would you need? “A rocket ship? A basketball? A pizza, a parachute, or maybe nothing but a pencil?”

Now, imagine where you’d keep that toolkit and where you’d practice your superpowers. Where is it? What does it look like? Is it “a library? A swimming pool? A concert hall?” It’s time to think ahead. Picture yourself winning an award for something you’ve done. Here’s the trophy, but what’s inscribed on the base? Go ahead and write it in! Then decorate that trophy just the way you’d like.

Ready to make your story legend? Check off the way you would describe your journey on the special Superpower Legend page. Finally, you’re going to look into a crystal ball. What incredible thing do you see yourself doing? When you really know yourself and appreciate your superpowers, you can make this vision come true!

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Image copyright Michael Byers, 2017, text copyright M.H. Clark, 2017. Courtesy of Compendium.

The beauty of Superpowers! is in its ability to get kids thinking about themselves and their talents in a new way. The questions—which are always uplifting, intriguing, and fun to answer—prompt kids to look at themselves in the way they honestly feel and to think about the image they project to the world. When children discover the words (or pictures) for the emotions, actions, and personality traits that inspire them, spark their creativity, and give them focus, the path toward the achievements they want to make is clearer. Examples like “basketball,” “concert hall,” and even “pizza” sprinkled throughout show readers that “everyday” activities can be someone’s superpower.

The text is written in a friendly, conversational tone that kids will respond to, and the full-color pages and bold images offer hip, retro, futuristic, and enticing backdrops to the areas provided for kids to answer the prompts. 

A unique tool to allow children to think on their own or to jumpstart conversations with adults about things they’d like to accomplish now and/or in the future as well as for choosing afterschool activities and lessons, Superpowers! would be welcome on any child’s bookshelf.

Ages 6 – 11

Compendium, 2018 | ISBN 978-1943200757

Discover more about Michael Byers and his art on his website.

National Superhero Day Activity

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Superhero Coloring Pages

 

Do you have a POW! or ZAP! in you? Or do you make Girl Power your mantra? If so, here are some Superhero Coloring Pages to enjoy.

Girl Power Superhero Coloring Page | Kapow! Superhero Coloring Page | Zap! Superhero Coloring Page

Picture Book Review