February 7 – National Bubble Gum Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Pop!-the-invention-of-bubble-gum-cover

About the Holiday

In 2006, Ruth Spiro, a children’s author and mother, established National Bubble Gum Day as a way for children to raise funds for their school and the charities it supports while having a little fun in the process. For this one day a year, students can earn permission to chew gum in class by donating 50 cents to the cause. Another fun and educational way to celebrate the day is by reading today’s book that tells the story of Walter Diemer and how he came up with the formula for bubble gum.

POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum

By Meghan McCarthy

 

In the 1920s, the Fleer family of Philadelphia was known for their factory where candy and gum were made. In an office upstairs the company’s accountant, Walter Diemer worked on the books and balanced the budgets. “He knew lots about math but not much about gum.” As the company outgrew its laboratory space downstairs, a new, experimental laboratory was set up in a room next to Walter’s office. Walter watched with curiosity as beakers, tubes, pots, and other equipment were moved into the lab.

Soon he learned that “the company was trying to make a new kind of chewing gum.” Chewing gum had been around in various forms for centuries and used for fun and also for medicinal purposes. Gum, the Fleers thought had become kind of boring. “But what if gum chewers could blow bubbles?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Pop!-the-invention-of-bubble-gum-candy

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2010, courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

In the experimental laboratory, Walter watched as the scientists tinkered and tested. Not much progress was made. Then one day Walter’s boss asked him to watch one of the experimental batches. Walter became so intrigued that he began experimenting with it himself, adding this and that. Still nothing happened. Finally, Walter’s boss gave up.

Walter, however, kept trying. Months later he had a bubbling concoction. All it needed, Walter thought, was some flavor. He “added a bit of cinnamon, a dash of wintergreen, a drop of vanilla…” and wondered if this could be bubble gum at last. He “put a wad into his mouth and began to chew.” Then “he blew a magnificent bubble!” He gave some to his coworkers, and as Walter remembered it, “‘We were blowing bubbles and prancing all over the place!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Pop!-the-invention-of-bubble-gum-walter

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2010, courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

But the next day when Walter came to work, his batch of bubble gum was as hard as a rock. Walter went back to work on his invention. Months—and some top-secret ingredients—later, Walter had just the consistency he wanted. The gum now needed some color. Pink was the only food coloring he had, so he poured it in.

On the day after Christmas, a batch of the bubble gum was cut into pieces and delivered to a small candy store. The people who came in were given a piece to chew and became “the first people in the world to try a bubble gum that worked.” Walter even “gave lessons on how to blow bubbles.” Soon, truckloads of Walter’s Double Bubble were being delivered to stores, big and small, all over.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Pop!-the-invention-of-bubble-gum-lab

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2010, courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

Walter went on to become the vice president of the Fleer company. When he retired, Walter spent his time riding his giant tricycle and engaging the neighborhood kids in bubble gum blowing contests. Walter didn’t get rich from his invention, but knowing that he had made kids all over the world happy was enough reward for him.

Extensive back matter includes more information on Walter Diemer, facts about gum, and resources on the quotes found in the story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Pop!-the-invention-of-bubble-gum-pink

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2010, courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

Kids who love bubble gum and inventing will find lots of information to chew on as they follow Walter’s journey from accountant to inventor. His stick-to-itivness in the face of defeat and even after the scientists and his boss had given up offers inspiration and a good lesson that sometimes success takes longer than you think. The included bits of history may spur readers to learn more about how gum was used by our ancestors and other cultures, and chemists in the making may want to investigate and compare Walter’s flavor and color ingredients against today’s bubble gum.

Meghan McCarthy’s storytelling is delightfully conversational and sprinkled with quotes from Walter Diemer, creating a personal narrative that will resonate with kids.McCarthy’s cartoon-inspired illustrations match the light-hearted tone of her story, and the laboratory scenes froth and bubble mysteriously as Walter adds and stirs up the secret ingredients that finally succeeded in bringing the world this long-favorite treat.

A charming, quick-paced look at the creation of a best-loved treat, POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum will engage kids in history and inspire them to keep trying even when everyone else has given up. The book would also make an entertaining and accessible lead in to chemistry lessons in the classroom.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon and Schuster, 2010 | ISBN 978-1416979708

To learn more about Meghan McCarthy, her books, and her art, visit her website

National Bubble Gum Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gumball-machine-coloring-page

Gumball Machine Coloring Page

 

Where’s a great place to get some bubble gum? A gumball machine, of course! Have fun adding all of your favorite colors to this printable Gumball Machine Coloring Page.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Pop!-the-invention-of-bubble-gum-cover

You can find POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

June 6 – Global Running Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wildest-race-ever

About the Holiday

Do you love to run, or do you find yourself thinking, “I really should take up running.” Then today is for you! Established to allow serious runners to recommit to their sport and to encourage those on the fence to jump down and join in, Global Running Day provides the inspiration to embrace this healthy lifestyle. Celebrated in 139 countries and with 184,583 people pledged to run (as of this writing), Global Running Day inspires people of all ages to take to the road, track, or trails and enjoy the exhilaration of running. To learn more about the day visit the Global Running Day website!  

The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon

By Meghan McCarthy

 

On August 30, 1904 at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, the first United States Olympic Marathon took place even though torrential rainstorms had washed away the original route. On the morning of the race thirty-two racers faced an unfamiliar, more difficult route. Some of these racers were:

Fred Lorz, a Boston bricklayer; John Lorden, the winner of the 1903 Boston Marathon; Sam Mellor from New York and the winner of two major marathons; Felix Carvajal, a mailman from Cuba; Arthur Newton; Albert Corey;  Len Tau, a long-distance running messenger from South Africa; William Garcia, the “greatest long-distance runner on the Pacific Coast”; and Thomas Hicks, who had only trained on flat terrain and was not ready for hilly St. Louis. There were also racers from countries all over the world.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wildest-race-ever-racers

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

The racers waited in 90-degree heat at the starting line for the signal. When the pistol shot rang out, they took off. The early leader was Fred Lorz. As the racers took to the hills outside the stadium so did cars full of reporters, judges, and doctors. Some spectators rode along side them on bicycles. All these vehicles stirred up so much dust that the runners choked on it.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wildest-race-ever-starting-line

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

At mile two, Sam Mellor and Fred Lorz were in the lead with Thomas Hicks only a little behind, but at mile 9 Lorz suffered terrible cramps and was driven away in a car. Now Albert Corey and William Garcia were neck and neck, and Hicks was catching up!

Felix Carvajal was also in the mix. He ran and ran—but he also stopped and stopped. He loved talking to the spectators that cheered him on. It gave him an opportunity to practice his English! Arthur Newton, Sam Mellor, and Thomas Hicks exchanged the lead several times. Everyone wondered which of them would come out on top. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wildest-race-ever-fred-lorz

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Meanwhile Len Tau was being chased by an angry dog that forced him a mile off course. Felix Carvajal also got distracted—not by a dog, but by an apple orchard! After running so far and talking to so many people, he settled down under a tree to satisfy his hunger. Soon, Mellor began suffering cramps and was suddenly out of the race.

Hicks, suffering unbearable thirst in the staggering heat, began begging his trainers for water. They refused, instead giving him a concoction of strychnine and egg whites. Meanwhile who should appear out of the dust but Fred Lorz! He ran through the tape at the finish line and was declared the winner! But was he really? When the officials discovered that Lorz had cheated, cheers turned to boos, and Lorz was banned from racing for life.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wildest-race-ever-following-racers

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Hicks, sluggish and confused, somehow kept running, buoyed by the cheering crowds. He pushed himself to run harder and harder until he broke through the tape. He collapsed on the ground just as he was declared the winner. He was rushed to the hospital, but was well enough to accept his award an hour later.

What happened to the other runners? All except one crossed the finish line. These racers may have been very different, but each one accomplished an astounding feat: They competed side by side in the “killer marathon” of 1904 while upholding the Olympic spirit.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wildest-race-ever-feeling-sick

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

With wit and suspense,Meghan McCarthy brings the story of the 1904 marathon to life for kids used to paved, well-marked routes, energizing sports drinks, supportive running shoes, and comfortable running clothes. Perhaps the only similarities to today’s races and yesteryear’s are the start and finish line and the cheering crowds! McCarthy’s inclusion of the humorous and the near-disastrous will keep readers’ hearts racing until the very end, when the topsy-turvy finish is revealed!

McCarthy illustrates The Wildest Race Ever with verve and comic flourishes that well-represent this extraordinary Olympics event. Kids will giggle and gasp when they learn what happens to the racers – and even a couple of spectators – during the race.

The Wildest Race Ever is a must-read for sports and history enthusiasts as well as for any child who loves a good story.  

Ages 4 – 9

Simon & Schuster, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481406390

Global Running Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shoe-lace-craft

Sassy Shoe Laces

 

Did you know that having cool shoelaces makes you run faster? Well…that might not be exactly true, but you will definitely look good no matter what you’re doing if you make some unique laces for your shoes.

Supplies

  • Shoelaces in any color
  • Fabric paint or markers

Directions

  1. With the fabric paint or markers make dots, stripes, or any designs you like. You can even paint fish or flowers!
  2. Enjoy them on your run!

December 3 – Chester Greenwood Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-earmuffs-for-everyone-cover

About the Holiday

On March 13, 1877 Chester Greenwood—a 19-year-old inventor—received a patent for “improvements in ear-mufflers” and forever sealed his place in history—as well as making winter more comfortable for millions of freezing ears! Today we honor Chester and his invention that brought attention to Farmington, Maine and jobs for many people in the area. 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of Chester Greenwood Day, and the people of Farmington are pulling out all the stops. With a theme of Holiday Celebrations around the World, the day will include a parade, gingerbread contest, chili contest, craft fairs, historical open houses, Polarbear Dip, 5K race, Festival of Trees and more. If you live nearby, why not plan to attend? If not, and you live in an area where the cold winds are blowing, wear your earmuffs with pride!

Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs

By Meghan McCarthy

 

In the mid-1800s inventors were trying to solve the problem of winter’s chill effects on tender ears. William Ware designed an “ear, cheek, and chin muff” that one wore somewhat like a false beard. Ear protecting hats, ear “slippers,” high collars, and other designs followed. But it wasn’t until Chester Greenwood and his sensitive protruding ears came along that earmuffs became practical. While the exact steps Chester took in creating his earmuffs aren’t known, he eventually perfected his invention and received a government patent on March 13, 1877—when he was only 19 years old!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-earmuffs-for-everyone-patents

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Chester was no one-invention wonder, though. Always on the lookout for clever ways to make money, he went on to improve other products. He applied his foresight to the tea kettle, rounding the edges of the bottom to reduce wear; constructed an interchangeable-tooth rake; and built a collapsible, if cumbersome, tent.

His inventions brought him a comfortable life that he shared with others—a beautiful house for his family in Maine, the first steam car in his town, and a bicycle shop on the bottom floor of his workshop. His wife, also a progressive thinker, worked for women’s suffrage and inspired her husband to hire women in his workshops.

After Chester passed away, some people, most notably Mickey Maguire, thought he deserved more acclaim—even a day dedicated as Chester Greenwood Day. Maguire was so excited about this that he became a kind of inventor himself—an inventor of tall tales. Over time he told some whoppers about Chester which were repeated in the press, making it hard to separate fact from myth. But even without the made-up stories, it’s easy to say that Chester Greenwood had a very remarkable life

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-earmuffs-for-everyone-portraits

Copyright Meghan McCarthy, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Earmuffs for Everyone! goes beyond the story of Chester Greenwood to include other inventors, a discussion of the patent system (using products well-known to today’s kids), and an explanation of how an inventor’s legacy grows. Meghan McCarthy writes with verve and humor, making the story of Greenwood’s invention as well as others’ creations inviting, accessible, and fun. Her illustrations of early attempts at creating earmuffs as well as other products from the 1800s are sure to delight kids and make them curious about the time period.

In her author’s note following the text, McCarthy expands on the story of Chester Greenwood and the process of applying for and earning a patent.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1481406376 

Discover more about Meghan McCarthy and her books plus fun activities, videos,  artwork, advice for writers and artists and more visit her website!

National Earmuff Day Activity

CPB - Earmuff Maze.png

Here’s to Warm Ears! Maze

 

One muff on each side of the head—Genius! But it took inventors a lot of trial and error to make the perfect warming headgear. Use your own creative thinking on this Here’s to Warm Ears!earmuff-shaped maze. Solution included.

Picture Book Review

June 1 – Global Running Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wildest-race-ever

About the Holiday

On your mark, get set, run! More than 2 million people in 160 countries have pledged to run on today’s holiday. Global Running Day is the evolution of National Running Day in the United States, which was started in 2009 by leading running organizations and races throughout the nation. It has been held annually on the first Wednesday of June ever since. This year will mark the first-ever Million Kid Run that aims to have a million kids around the world pledge to run with the hope that they will discover the joys of running and will be inspired to continue the sport through life. Participating is as easy as running in your neighborhood, gathering with friends to run, or even playing tag with your kids.

The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon

By Meghan McCarthy

 

On August 30, 1904 the first United States Olympic Marathon took place at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Torrential rainstorms in the days before the race had washed away the original route, so a new, more difficult route was mapped out. Some of the 32 racers were:

Fred Lorz, a Boston bricklayer; John Lorden, the winner of the 1903 Boston Marathon; Sam Mellor from New York and the winner of two major marathons; Felix Carvajal, a mailman from Cuba; Arthur Newton; Albert Corey;  Len Tau, a long-distance running messenger from South Africa; William Garcia, the “greatest long-distance runner on the Pacific Coast”; and Thomas Hicks, who had only trained on flat terrain and was not ready for hilly St. Louis. There were also racers from countries all over the world.

At the starting line the racers waited in 90-degree heat for the signal. When the pistol shot rang out, they took off. The early leader was Fred Lorz. As the racers took to the hills outside the stadium so did cars full of reporters, judges, and doctors. Some spectators rode along side them on bicycles. All these vehicles stirred up so much dust that the runners choked on it.

At mile two, Sam Mellor and Fred Lorz were in the lead with Thomas Hicks only a little behind, but at mile 9 Lorz suffered terrible cramps and was driven away in a car. Now Albert Corey and William Garcia were neck and neck, and Hicks was catching up!

And what about Felix Carvajal? He ran and ran—but he also stopped and stopped. He loved talking to the spectators that cheered him on. It gave him an opportunity to practice his English! Arthur Newton, Sam Mellor, and Thomas Hicks exchanged the lead several times. No one knew who would win!

Where was Len Tau? Unfortunately, an angry dog chased him until he was a mile off course. Felix Carvajal also got distracted—not by a dog, but by an apple orchard! He settled down under a tree to satisfy his hunger. Soon, Mellor began suffering cramps and was suddenly out of the race.

Hicks suffering unbearable thirst in the staggering heat, began begging his trainers for water. They refused, instead giving him a concoction of strychnine and egg white. Another name for strychnine is rat poison! What would happen to Hicks after he drank it?Meanwhile who should appear out of the dust? Fred Lorz! He ran through the tape at the finish line and was declared the winner! Cheers erupted from the crowd. But wait! Someone said that Lorz had cheated. The cheers turned to boos, and even though Lorz said it was all a joke, the race committee banned Lorz from racing for life.

Hicks, somehow, kept running, buoyed by the cheering crowds. His trainers gave him more of the “health” drink, which made Hicks sluggish and confused. Nevertheless, he struggled on. When he came to the top of the last hill, seeing and hearing the crowds energized him. He pushed himself to run harder and harder until he broke through the tape. He collapsed on the ground just as he was declared the winner. He was rushed to the hospital, but was well enough to accept his award an hour later.

What happened to the other runners? All, except William Garcia who was overtaken by the clouds of dust, crossed the finish line at various times and with unique comments on their performance. These racers may have been very different, but they all had one thing in common. Each one accomplished an astounding feat: They competed side by side in the “killer marathon” of 1904 while upholding the Olympic spirit.

Meghan McCarthy with wit and suspense brings the story of the 1904 marathon to life for kids used to paved, well-marked routes, energizing sports drinks, supportive running shoes, and comfortable running clothes. Perhaps the only similarities to today’s races and yesteryear’s are the start and finish line and the cheering crowds! McCarthy’s inclusion of the humorous and the near-disastrous will keep readers’ hearts racing until the very end, when the topsy-turvy finish is revealed!

McCarthy illustrates The Wildest Race Ever with verve and comic flourishes that well-represent this extraordinary Olympics event. Kids will giggle and gasp to see what happens to the racers – and even a couple of spectators – during the race.

The Wildest Race Ever is a must-read for sports and history enthusiasts alike! 

Ages 4 – 9

Simon & Schuster, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481406390

Global Running Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shoe-lace-craft

Sassy Shoe Laces

 

Did you know that having cool shoelaces makes you run faster? Well…that might not be exactly true, but you will definitely look good no matter what you’re doing if you make some unique laces for your shoes.

Supplies

  • Shoelaces in any color
  • Fabric paint or markers

Directions

  1. With the fabric paint or markers make dots, stripes, or any designs you like. You can even paint fish or flowers!
  2. Enjoy them on your run!

March 13 – National Earmuff Day

Earmuffs for Everyone! by Meghan McCarthy Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

On March 13, 1877 Chester Greenwood—a 19-year-old inventor—received a patent for “improvements in ear-mufflers” and forever sealed his place in history—as well as making winter more comfortable for millions of freezing ears! Today we honor Chester and his invention that brought attention to Farmington, Maine and jobs for many people in the area. So if you live in an area where the cold winds are still blowing, wear your earmuffs in pride!

Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs

By Meghan McCarthy

 

In the mid-1800s inventors were trying to solve the problem of winter’s chill effects on tender ears. William Ware designed an “ear, cheek, and chin muff” that one wore somewhat like a false beard. Ear protecting hats, ear “slippers,” high collars, and other designs followed. But it wasn’t until Chester Greenwood and his sensitive protruding ears came along that earmuffs became practical. While the exact steps Chester took in creating his earmuffs aren’t known, he eventually perfected his invention and received a government patent on March 13, 1877—when he was only 19 years old!

Chester was no one-invention wonder, though. Always on the lookout for clever ways to make money, he went on to improve other products. He applied his foresight to the tea kettle, rounding the edges of the bottom to reduce wear; constructed an interchangeable-tooth rake; and built a collapsible, if cumbersome, tent.

His inventions brought him a comfortable life—a beautiful house for his family in Maine, the first steam car in his town, and a bicycle shop on the bottom floor of his workshop—that he shared with others. His wife, also a progressive thinker, worked for women’s suffrage, and inspired her husband to hire women in his workshops.

After Chester passed away, some people, most notably Mickey Maguire, thought he deserved more acclaim—even a day dedicated as Chester Greenwood Day. Maguire was so excited about this that he became a kind of inventor himself—an inventor of tall tales. Over time he told some whoppers and they were printed, making it hard to separate fact from myth. But even without the made-up stories, it’s easy to say that Chester Greenwood had a very remarkable life

Earmuffs for Everyone goes beyond the story of Chester Greenwood to include other inventors, a discussion of the patent system (using products well-known to today’s kids), and how an inventor’s legacy grows. Meghan McCarthy writes with verve and humor, making the story of Greenwood’s invention as well as others’ creations inviting, accessible, and fun. Her illustrations of the first attempts at earmuffs and other1800s products are sure to delight kids and make them curious about the time period.

In her author’s note at the back of the book, McCarthy expands on the story of Chester Greenwood and the process of applying for and earning a patent.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1481406376 

National Earmuff Day Activity

CPB - Earmuff Maze.png

Here’s to Warm Ears! Maze

 

One muff on each side of the head—Genius! But it took inventors a lot of trial and error to make the perfect warming headgear. Use your own creative thinking on this Here’s to Warm Ears!earmuff-shaped maze. Solution included.