September 1 – World Letter Writing Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-cover

About the Holiday

Letters don’t have to be those long missives sent in envelopes with stamps affixed. A note to a friend, a message included in a child’s lunch sack, or a post-it stuck where a co-worker can see it are are all ways to write a few encouraging words to those you love. Today, why not put your thoughts on paper and send or give your letter to someone you’d like to connect with?

Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home

By Kazue Takahashi

 

Framed by his window Kuma-Kuma Chan, the little bear, sits at his writing desk penning a letter. It says simply, “How are you? Come visit me soon.” When it is received, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s friend begins the long journey to see him. “I have to ride a train for an hour, take a bus for thirty minutes, then walk for fifteen minutes,” the boy states. From the bus stop, the boy can see the red roof of Kuma-Kuma Chan’s house in the distance, and as he approaches he sees hisfriend waiting outside to welcome him.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-welcome

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, 2016, courtesy of museyon.com

The boy has been here before and once more enjoys the routine as “Kuma-Kuma Chan serves bear tea. The first thing he always does is serve bear tea,” the boy explains. It seems that the time between visits has been long, and at first the silences are longer than the conversation. In the quiet the boy watches “the dust floating around in the afternoon sunbeams” and looks “at the books on the shelf,” reading “the titles one by one….” Meanwhile Kuma-Kuma Chan may be having second thoughts about his hospitality. He “gets up and opens the window to let in some fresh air” and checks the expiration date on the bear tea.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-dinner

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, 2016, courtesy of museyon.com

By the time Kuma-Kuma Chan serves the rice crackers conversation comes easier. For dinner Kuma-Kuma Chan prepares a salmon dish as always. It is, the boy thinks, his favorite and “perfect for a bear.” After dinner the two watch television and enjoy a mutually favorite snack of chocolate and hot milk. Soon all of the chocolates the boy brought are gone and it is time for him to catch the last bus home.

He slings his backpack over his shoulders and says goodbye to Kuma-Kuma Chan, who invites him to come back soon. Framed in the golden light of his doorway, the little bear waves farewell to his friend as he ventures out into the sapphire blue night.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-watching-tv

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, 2016, courtesy of museyon.com

Kazue Takahashi, a Japanese illustrator and children’s book author, employs kawaii—the quality of being cute and adorable—in creating her quiet, moment-in-time story that focuses on the essence of true friendship. The boy and the little bear are happy simply being together. The details of the day that Takahashi chooses to highlight are ones that we as adults might overlook, but which for children are still new and fascinating: the way Kuma-Kuma Chan’s house “smells slightly of bear,” a self-consciousness on the part of a host, the desire of each party to please the other.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-bear-tea

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, 2016, courtesy of museyon.com

Each right-hand page contains a central image that highlights the spare text presented on the left-hand page. The white space surrounding the illustrations, which are free of all extraneous details, echoes the openness of the storyline. The only two-page illustration spreads come at the beginning of the story, when Kuma-Kuma Chan stands at his door welcoming the boy, and at the end, when the two are saying goodbye, emphasizing the connection of their friendship and perhaps also the distance between them when they are apart. The muted colors and downy texture of the images enhances the sweet charm of Kuma-Kuma Chan, who is no bigger than a thumbprint.

Kuma-Kuma-Chan’s Home would appeal to a varying age-range of children—and even adults. Young children would enjoy discussing the story page-to-page, while older readers would like the quiet respite the book offers. It’s depiction of a one-on-one friendship would be welcomed by introverted children as well. Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home is a perfect little book to keep on personal library shelves for those times when companionship—and cuteness—is needed.

Ages 3 and up

Museyon, 2016 | ISBN 978-1940842097

World Letter Writing Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tea-party-template

 

Tea Time Stationery

 

Today, take a little tea time and write a short letter to a friend, a family member, or a coworker. Print out this Tea Time Stationery and get started!

Picture Book Review

March 10 – International Day of Awesomeness

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-cover

About the Holiday

Okay, so it’s Friday and the end of a long work and school week. Maybe everything didn’t go as planned this week—maybe not even close. But who cares. Why? Because you are still awesome! Begun as a kind of inside joke among coworkers, International Day of Awesomeness continues to grow, attracting more and more awesome individuals around the world. To celebrate get creative and perform feats of awesomeness—whatever that might mean to you. Sometimes that just means having and showing an awesome amount of love—as you’ll soon see!

I Want That Love

By Tatsuya Miyanishi

 

Long ago Tyrannosaurus ruled the earth. His philosophy was “In this world, strength means everything. The strongest wins. The strongest rules. And I am the strongest!” Tyrannosaurus stomped across the landscape crushing and eating the “worthless weaklings” in his path. The other dinosaurs quaked whenever they heard him roar. They hid and were quiet, and never opposed him. Soon this led to some skewed thinking—they also began to believe that “Tyrannosaurus could do anything he wanted to because he was the strongest.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-sleeping

Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

As time passed, however, the Tyrannosaurus grew old and feeble. One day he happened upon a Masiakasaurus who mocked him for moving so slowly. The Tyrannosaurus threatened him, but could do little else. Another Masiakasaurus bit the Tyrannosaurus’s tail. “‘Ouch…stop,’ the Tyrannosaurus cried.” But it did no good; no one was afraid of him anymore.

The Tyrannosaurus just wanted to be alone. He traveled for days, and when he was exhausted he lay down and went to sleep. Now that he was no longer strong, he felt he was worthless and wondered how he was “going to live from now on.” He was awakened by a voice. “He opened his eyes and saw a yummy-looking baby Triceratops right in front of him.” He had every intention of eating this little snack, but his tail was so sore he couldn’t move.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-hugging-triceratops

Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

The little Triceratops noticed his swollen tail and stroked the injury to help it feel better. He also warned the Tyrannosaurus that sleeping in the open was dangerous because the “strong, scary Tarbosaurus” would eat him. The Tyrannosaurus scoffed, saying that there was someone much stronger than the Tarbosaurus. The Triceratops suggested the Gorgosaurus, but Tyrannosaurus disagreed. “‘I’m thinking of someone who is much, much stronger,’” he said. Oh, yes! The Triceratops remembered. “‘The Tyrannosaurus!’” Tyrannosaurus was so happy to hear his name that “he picked up the baby Triceratops and hugged him.” The baby warned the dinosaur to run away if he saw Tyrannosaurus because he would surely be eaten.

The giant dinosaur was surprised that the baby had never seen Tyrannosaurus before, and was just about to gobble him up when the little one asked if he would meet his friends and hug them too. The Tyrannosaurus eagerly followed the Triceratops, imagining the feast he was about to have. When they reached the woods all the little Triceratops came out to play and begged to be picked up and hugged.  “‘No, no, guys!’ said one little Triceratops. ‘Even a mighty man like Mr. Rhabdodon can get tired.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-following-triceratops

Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

The Tyrannosaurus was insulted. Rhabdodon was stupid, a weakling, and an herbivore. But before he could protest, the other little Triceratops discovered his wound. They all began tending carefully to his injury and gathered red berries to help him heal even though it hurt their horns to ram the tree and dislodge the berries. Suddenly, Tyrannosaurus understood their sacrifice on his behalf. Tears sprang to his eyes, and he grabbed a trunk in his teeth and shook it. The youngsters were amazed as red berries rained down on them.

They cheered and said they wanted to be just like Mr. Rhabdodon. They bet that he could even beat mean Tyrannosaurus. The Tyrannosaurus mumbled his old slogan, and began to tell the little ones that strength wasn’t so important when they were interrupted by two Giganotosauruses who wanted a Triceratops snack. The Tyrannosaurus growled at the newcomers. But the Giganotosauruses attacked, biting the Tyrannosaurus to get at the babies in his arms. The Tyrannosaurus curled his body around them and promised to protect them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-playing-with-triceratops

Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

As the Giganotosauruses continued to bite him, the Tyrannosaurus “murmured, ‘I finally understand…Remember this, kids. It’s not being strong that is important. What’s most important is…’” At last, unsuccessful in their quest, the Giganotosaurus went away, and the Tyrannosaurus fell over. The little Triceratops crawled safely away and headed home when the Tyrannosaurus told them  he was tired. Before he left, the first Triceratops asked what the most important thing was, but the Tyrannosaurus didn’t reply.

Many years later a father Triceratops and his babies were spotted by two Giganotosauruses looking for food in the woods. They jumped on the family, but the father hid his children under his body and endured the attack. “He remembered how the Tyrannosaurus had protected him and his friends.” Finally, the Giganotosauruses gave up and went away. His little ones were impressed but asked why he hadn’t beaten up the Giganotosauruses.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-giganotosaurus

Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

With tears in his eyes, the father said, “‘Violence isn’t the answer. There is something more powerful than strength, and more precious too. That is love…A truly strong guy who broke this tree once gave me that love….’ One baby looked at his father and said, “‘Will you give me that love? I want that love.’”

Originally published in Japan, Tatsuya Miyanishi’s story of what constitutes true strength and how love can transform even the most hardened heart will resonate with kids and adults on many levels. Children’s familiarity with and love of dinosaurs allows them to easily understand the complexities of the actions and emotions revealed in the story. Ambiguity in the wording after the Tyrannosaurus defeats the Giganotosauruses allows for various interpretations of his fate depending on the age and sensitivity of the child, and a bit of humor when the Triceratops does not recognize Tyrannosaurus adds levity to the plot. The innocence and generosity of the Triceratops babies as an agent of change within the Tyrannosaurus is poignant and realistic. Likewise, the long-term effects of experiencing awesome love when young is well demonstrated as the father Triceratops later gives back to his own family.

The harsh dinosaur-eat-dinosaur landscape is effectively portrayed in Miyanishi’s bold green, gold, and orange illustrations in which the stylized Tyrannosaurus towers over trees, angular rock formations, and especially the tiny, unsuspecting Triceratops. Images of the Tryannosaurus and Triceratops father guarding the babies are touching and demonstrate a parent’s or caregivers love.

I Want That Love is the third book in the Tyrannosaurus series, along with You Look Yummy and You Are My Best Friend, and will reward readers who love dinosaurs as well as those looking for books on kindness and acceptance.

Ages 5 – 7

Museyon, 2016 | ISBN 978-1940842141

Day of Awesomeness Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-awesomeness-cards

Awesomeness Cards

 

Do you have some awesome people in your life? Give them one of these printable Awesomeness Cards and watch them smile!

Picture Book Review

December 20 – It’s Write to a Friend Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-cover

About the Holiday

As long as you have a pen or pencil and some paper out to write a list, why not jot a quick note to a friend? Even just a few words like “I’m thinking of you” or a few lines about what you’ve been doing make a special surprise when they appear in someone’s mailbox.

Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home

By Kazue Takahashi

 

Framed by his window Kuma-Kuma Chan, the little bear, sits at his writing desk penning a letter. It says simply, “How are you? Come visit me soon.” When it is received, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s friend begins the long journey to see him. “I have to ride a train for an hour, take a bus for thirty minutes, then walk for fifteen minutes,” the boy states. From the bus stop, the boy can see the red roof of Kuma-Kuma Chan’s house in the distance, and as he approaches he sees hisfriend waiting outside to welcome him.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-welcome

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, courtesy of museyon.com

The boy has been here before and once more enjoys the routine as “Kuma-Kuma Chan serves bear tea. The first thing he always does is serve bear tea,” the boy explains. It seems that the time between visits has been long, and at first the silences are longer than the conversation. In the quiet the boy watches “the dust floating around in the afternoon sunbeams” and looks “at the books on the shelf,” reading “the titles one by one….” Meanwhile Kuma-Kuma Chan may be having second thoughts about his hospitality. He “gets up and opens the window to let in some fresh air” and checks the expiration date on the bear tea.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-dinner

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, courtesy of museyon.com

By the time Kuma-Kuma Chan serves the rice crackers conversation comes easier. For dinner Kuma-Kuma Chan prepares a salmon dish as always. It is, the boy thinks, his favorite and “perfect for a bear.” After dinner the two watch television and enjoy a mutually favorite snack of chocolate and hot milk. Soon all of the chocolates the boy brought are gone and it is time for him to catch the last bus home.

He slings his backpack over his shoulders and says goodbye to Kuma-Kuma Chan, who invites him to come back soon. Framed in the golden light of his doorway, the little bear waves farewell to his friend as he ventures out into the sapphire blue night.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-watching-tv

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, courtesy of museyon.com

Kazue Takahashi, a Japanese illustrator and children’s book author, employs kawaii—the quality of being cute and adorable—in creating her quiet, moment-in-time story that focuses on the essence of true friendship. The boy and the little bear are happy simply being together. The details of the day that Takahashi chooses to highlight are ones that we as adults choose to overlook, but which for children are still new and fascinating: the way Kuma-Kuma Chan’s house “smells slightly of bear,” a self-consciousness on the part of a host, the desire of each party to please the other.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kuma-kuma-chan's-home-bear-tea

Copyright Kazue Takahashi, courtesy of museyon.com

Each right-hand page contains a central image that highlights the spare text presented on the left-hand page. The white space surrounding the illustrations, which are free of all extraneous details, echoes the openness of the storyline. The only two-page illustration spreads come at the beginning of the story, when Kuma-Kuma Chan stands at his door welcoming the boy, and at the end, when the two are saying goodbye, emphasizing the connection of their friendship and perhaps also the distance between them when they are apart. The muted colors and downy texture of the images enhances the sweet charm of Kuma-Kuma Chan, who is no bigger than a thumbprint.

Kuma-Kuma-Chan’s Home would appeal to a varying age-range of children—and even adults. Young children would enjoy discussing the story page-to-page, while older readers would like the quiet respite the book offers. It’s depiction of a one-on-one friendship would be welcomed by introverted children as well. Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home is a perfect little book to keep on personal library shelves for those times when companionship—and cuteness—is needed.

Ages 3 and up

Museyon, 2016 | ISBN 978-1940842097

Write to a Friend Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-snowman-stationery

There’s Snow Time Like Now to Write! Stationery

 

Shorter days and colder weather usually means more indoor time. Why not write a short letter to a friend who’s far away or just down the street. Maybe make a game of it—see how many letters you can write to each other or send secret coded messages—and have fun writing! Print out this special Snowman Stationery and get started!

Picture Book Review