December 14 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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Review by Jakki Licare

Stand up, Yumi Chung!

By Jessica Kim | Cover Illustration by Jennifer Hom

 

Synopsis

This synopsis contains spoilers

Yumi Chung is enjoying her summer and the fact that she doesn’t have to go to her private school and deal with a bully everyday. So when her mom tells her they can no longer afford her private school because the family’s restaurant isn’t doing well, Yumi is thrilled. Unfortunately, Yumi’s mom still wants her to go to the private school because she believes it will help her get into a good university. To this end, Yumi’s mom signs her up for Hagwon – test-prep school – to help her study for the SSAT. If Yumi can pass the SSAT with a 98% or better then she can get an academic scholarship to her private school. 

On her way to the library to study, Yumi discovers a comedy club opening up. When she hears her favorite YouTube comedian, Jasmine Jasper, inside, she can’t resist peeking in. Jasmine sees Yumi and welcomes her to the summer comedy camp. Jasmine thinks Yumi is the no-show camper, Kay. Yumi’s so flustered, she doesn’t correct the mistake and finds herself joining in on an improv exercise. Yumi has a great time at the camp and can’t bring herself to tell Jasmine that she isn’t Kay.

Later, the Hagwon leader meets with Yumi and points out how Yumi often bubbles in the correct answer, but then second guesses herself. She encourages Yumi to be more confident in herself. Another day on her way to the library, Yumi bumps into a comedy camp friend and decides to pretend to be Kay again. After all, the Hagwon leader told her to be more confident, and Yumi has never felt more confident than when she’s pretending to be Kay. Yumi’s camp friends tell her about a new performing arts magnet school. Yumi wants to apply, but doesn’t think her parents will let her.

As Yumi continues going to the camp, she realizes that she should show her parents how important comedy is to her. She decides to trick them into going to the comedy showcase. If they can see how happy she is on stage then maybe they’ll let her apply for the Performing Arts school. But first, she has to prove to them that performing won’t interfere with her academics; so Yumi starts studying.

Yumi joins the campers at a nursing home where they’ll practice performing comedy to a real audience. Yumi’s excited, but her set is a big flop. Jasmine pulls her aside afterwards and tells her not to give up. Just because the jokes didn’t work doesn’t mean they’re failures.

Yumi’s dad builds a karaoke stage to drum up business for their restaurant. She becomes alarmed when she finds out her parents are behind on the rent and that if they don’t raise $6,000 in eight days the restaurant will have to close. Yumi talks to her big sister about the restaurant and after a little slip, her sister finds out that she’s been pretending to be Kay.  She scolds Yumi for lying and makes her promise to tell Jasmine the truth.

Yumi goes to tell Jasmine the truth in person, but she chickens out and decides to drop out of the comedy showcase instead. Yumi returns to camp to sneak an apology note into Jasmine’s bag, but before she can, the real Kay shows up. Yumi is caught in her lie and her parents discover that she’s been secretly going to the comedy camp instead of studying. They ground Yumi and take away her phone.

Her parents hold a grand reopening after renovating the restaurant, but they don’t raise enough money. Yumi’s father apologizes to her for not doing better and explains that this is why they want her to study so hard. He doesn’t want her to struggle like he has. She tells him about how important comedy is to her and surprisingly, her dad understands.  He loves the stage too. He wanted to be a gasu, a singer, when he was younger, but he couldn’t support his family with singing. He tells her he really wants what’s best for her and that going to a good school is the best thing for her. 

When Yumi gets her phone back, she FaceTimes with her camp friends and apologizes for deceiving them. Her new friends accept her apology. As they start  joking around, Yumi gets the idea to do an open mic night at the restaurant. Her friends are excited about the idea and encourage her to reach out to Jasmine so she can spread the word through the comedy club. 

Yumi goes to the comedy club and apologizes to Jasmine. They work things out and Jasmine agrees to spread the word. Yumi runs home and tells her parents about the open mic night idea. They’re skeptical, but agree to give it a chance. On the night of the show, a lot of people show up, but no one wants to be first up on stage. Yumi raises her hand.

Yumi struggles in the beginning of her set, but with the encouragement of her friends she regains her footing and continues on. She jokes about her ordinary summer of stealing another person’s identity, but at the end of her act she states that she’s learned to be happy with who she is. Everyone applauds and Yumi gets to experience her first comedian high. After they close, the family races to the computer to calculate the night’s revenue. They discover that they made over $7,000, and the restaurant is saved.

A week later, as Yumi is talking to her sister about how excited she is to start improv classes, an email pops up on her phone congratulating her on her academic scholarship. Yumi is okay with going back to her private school because she knows things won’t be the same. She’s confident about who she is now, and this time she won’t hold herself back.

Review

If you’re looking for a book that will make your middle-grade reader chuckle, Stand Up, Yumi Chung! is the perfect pick. Yumi’s funny asides about her daily struggles and her stand-up jokes make this book a laugh-out-loud read. When her mother makes snide comments about her hair and then makes her get a perm that she doesn’t want, Yumi writes out a whole comedy routine about it. Her punchline summarizes the experience perfectly: “Sometimes you just have to brush it off. The comments and the dandruff.”

Not only will Yumi’s funny jokes keep readers giggling throughout the book, but watching her attend improv classes, perform a set, and suffer as her jokes fall flat will show how hard Yumi has to work at being funny. When the punchline to Yumi’s joke about how her parents won’t pay her for every A she gets on her report card, the audience members murmur that her parents are abusive and tiger parents. Yumi is devastated that no one gets the joke, and she’s determined to throw the whole act out until Jasmine explains to her that most jokes start out as failures. When a joke fails it tells you something isn’t working and it’s a comedian’s job to try to fix it, Jasmine explains.

For readers curious to learn how improv comedy works, they can pull up a seat right next to Yumi and learn along with her. I thought it’s especially interesting to see how important teamwork is in improv. One skit that her friends do together flops because they each do their own thing and don’t build off of each other. When they try again, one camper makes a comment about how if he doesn’t get food soon he’ll turn “to the dark side.” One of Yumi’s other friends picks up on this comment and pretends to be Darth Vader. Then Yumi jumps in and lets out a Chewbacca roar. By working together their skit soon fills the auditorium with laughter.

But the main reason I’ll recommend this book to any middle grader is Yumi’s character transformation. In the beginning she can’t even tell her mom she doesn’t want a perm. Then, when the Hagwon leader tells her she needs to be more confident, Yumi finds her confidence not in herself but in pretending to be Kay. By the end of the book, however, she finds the strength to apologize to her friends and Jasmine for pretending to be Kay. She opens up to her father about her dreams, and she’s even able to do a comedy set in front of her parents, making jokes about her summer’s mistakes. Best of all, though, Yumi has the confidence to go back to her old school and is willing to put herself out there. 

If you’re looking for a book that will make your kids giggle while teaching them the importance of being comfortable with who they are, then Stand up, Yumi Chung! is a must read to add to your home, classroom, and school library.

Discover more about Jessica Kim and her writing on her website.

Ages 9 – 12

Kokila, Penguin Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-0525554974 (Hardcover); ISBN 978-0525554998 (Paperback)

Read a New Book Month Activity

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Stand Up, Yumi Chung! Activity Kit

 

You can find loads of puzzles, prompts, curriculum extensions, and even a recipe for Korean Bugogi on Jessica Kim’s website here.

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You can find Stand Up, Yumi Chung! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

August 3 – National Twins Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday got its start in 1819 when identical twins Moses and Aaron Wilcox agreed to donate six acres of land to the town of Millsville, Ohio if they would change the name of the town to Twinsburg. They did! In 1976, Twinsburg established an annual festival for twins. Only thirty-six twins attended that first festival, but today the three-day event attracts more than 2,000 twins from all over the country. The weekend includes golf and volleyball tournaments, kids’ games, a parade, amusement rides, entertainment, fireworks, and, of course, twins contests and talent contests. For more information on this unique festival, visit the Twins Days Festival website.

Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz | Illustrated by Deborah Marcero

 

You, of course, know the story of Cinderella, but did you know that she had a twin named Tinderella? Here’s how the whole story goes…. When the two girls were given their long list of chores by their wicked stepmother, “Tinderella split each task / exactly down the middle. / Twelve to fix? / That’s six and six. / She’d solve it like a riddle.” And, thus, Cinderella and Tinderella went to work on fixing the household’s clocks.

The girls also split the mopping, shopping, baking, mending, and “the mean stepsister tending.” Left with only leftovers to eat at the end of the day, the two even shared half a piece of bread and half the scraps before collapsing into their half of the bed. In their  dreams, Cinderella kept her eye on marriage while Tinderella calculated what having twice the room would be.

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Image Copyright Deborah Marcero, 2017, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz, 2017. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Then one day, the sisters saw an open invitation by the prince to a ball where he hoped to find his princess. Cinderella was excited that her dream could come true, but her stepmother told them they had to stay home to clean. “So Cinderella grabbed a broom, / but as she started sweeping, / she felt her dreams all turn to dust / and couldn’t keep from weeping.” But suddenly their fairy godmother appeared, and with her magic wand she created two beautiful gowns, two pairs of slippers, and lots of other bling. Tinderella split all of this between them, and as they each climbed into their half of a fabulous car, they listened to the fairy godmother’s warning to be back by midnight.

As soon as the prince saw Cinderella and Tinderella, he was enchanted. “No other girl stood half a chance—he danced with them all night.” Taking turns with the Prince, the girls danced the night away until they heard the clock begin to chime. They ran away from the ball, leaving the saddened prince—and a shoe—behind. He tried the shoe on all the girls in the village until he found that it fit Cinderella and Tinderella.

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Image Copyright Deborah Marcero, 2017, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz, 2017. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

The prince didn’t know what to do and told the girls they had to choose. But Tinderella had a brilliant idea. She summoned their fairy godmother and asked if she could make the prince a twin. Before she did, though, Cinderella reminded the prince that he’d have to share his kingdom and all its wealth. “Prince Charming crossed his heart and swore / to split things even steven. / ‘I’d gladly give up all my stuff. / It’s love that I believe in.’”

With that the fairy godmother waved her wand and Whoosh! an exact double of the prince appeared. It turned out that he was just as much a whiz at math as Tinderella, and within moments he had neatly “divvied up the royal wealth” and won Tinderella’s heart. While Cinderella and Prince Charming ruled the kingdom, Tinderella and her prince ruled the math world. Later, Cinderella had a baby boy. And Tinderella? Well, “against all odds” she “delivered quads,” and everyone lived “happ’ly ever half-ter.”

An included poster allows kids and teachers to extend the math learning with entertaining activities on the back.

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Image Copyright Deborah Marcero, 2017, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz, 2017. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Fans of Corey Rosen Schwartz and her fractured fairy tales know all about her awesome storytelling and rhyming abilities. In Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale, she uses her multiple talents to give a favorite fairy tale a double dose of magic while engaging kids in a bit of math fun. Her always-clever verses shine with evocative vocabulary that gives the two girls distinct personalities while also ingeniously introducing the concept of one half and division. Schwartz doesn’t stop at a purely mathematical definition of these ideas, though. When Tinderella suggests making a double of the prince, Cinderella ensures Prince Charming is up to splitting his kingdom, in this way passing on her well-earned sense of empathy and sharing to readers. The sweet ending offers quadruple the delight of the original tale and prompts readers to dip into the story again to see how the girls’ fancy dress accessories and the princes’ kingdom along with other items in the story could be divided into fourths.

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Deborah Marcero’s mixed media illustrations are as charming as the prince himself. As red-haired Cinderella and Tinderella go about their copious chores, thumbnail portraits of the girls splitting the work demonstrate the idea of one half. A larger image of the girls baking reveals the opportunities for math learning in this everyday activity. A pie chart that Tinderella draws on a chalkboard is clearly labeled and corresponds to the clocks on the table, introducing kids to this graphing system and allowing them to make connections. Similarly, the concept of area is portrayed as Tinderella dreams of a bigger bed. A careful look on every page will reward readers with many chances for counting and dividing at various levels depending on the age of the reader. Marcero’s color palette is fresh and vibrant while infusing the pages with a royal ambience that hints at the girls’ enriched future.

A joy to read aloud, Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale is an enchanting story that doubles as inspired math learning. The book would be a favorite addition to any home, classroom, and public library collection.

Ages 4 – 8

P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017 | ISBN 978-0399176333

You’ll discover more about Corey Rosen Schwartz and her books plus Twinderella activities to download on her website.

To learn more about Deborah Marcero, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Twinderella Giveaway

I’m excited to be teaming with Corey Rosen Schwartz in a Twitter giveaway of 

  • One (1) signed copy of Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale 

To enter Follow me @CelebratePicBks on Twitter and Retweet a giveaway tweet.

This giveaway is open from August 3 through August 9 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on August 10.

Prizing provided by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts.

National Twins Day Activity

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Reunite the Twins Match-Up Puzzle

 

Each of these kids has a twin, but they’ve gotten separated. Can you help them find each other again in this printable puzzle?

Reunite the Twins Match-Up Puzzle

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You can find Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 28 – Good Neighbor Day

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About the Holiday

With our busy lifestyles it’s sometimes hard to get to know our neighbors. We might give them a quick wave and smile as we’re driving in and out, but finding time to stop and chat can be more difficult. Today’s holiday encourages us to get to know our neighbors and become friends. Why not take the opportunity to say “hi” to someone on your block or in your building or even share a special note of thanks for being a great neighbor!

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

Written by Michelle Cuevas | Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

 

A man in a red stocking cap and clam digger pants sits at his kitchen table with a cup of coffee, sharing space with a tabby cat. His day as the “uncorker of ocean bottles” is about to begin. He follows the path from his isolated house on the hill down to the water’s edge, where he keeps “his eyes on the waves, watchful for a glint of glass.” When he sees a bottle floating past, it is his job to retrieve it and read the message inside.

“Sometimes to deliver a bottle, he needed only to stroll to the nearest village. Other times, he would journey until his compass became rusty and he felt loneliness as sharp as fish scales.” Some messages have been buffeted by the seas for a long time, and while some messages are sad, most make their recipients very happy, “for a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.”

Although the man doesn’t mind living alone and loves his job, he sometimes feels a niggling wish to receive a letter himself. It is a fleeting dream, however, and as likely as finding a mermaid’s toenail on the beach,” because the man “had no name and no friends who would ever write him a letter.” One day, thoiugh, the man opens a very singular message: “I’m not sure you will get this in time, but I am having a party. Tomorrow, evening tide, at the seashore. Will you please come?”

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Image copyright Erin E. Stead, text copyright Michelle Cuevas, courtesy of Penguin Random House

Without a name or an address the Uncorker is at a loss as to how to deliver this very important invitation. It is such an intriguing invitation, in fact, that the man finds that he wants to go himself. With reasoned purpose, the Uncorker rides his bicycle into town to investigate who might know something about the letter. The maker of cakes studies the note but can offer no insight beyond the fact that he, too, would like to attend such a get- together.

At the candy shop neither the owner, nor a woman buying candy, nor a young girl know anything about the note, but they too wish they had been invited. The Uncorker meets others—a sailor, a seagull, and a one-man band—but no one can help him. The man goes home feeling dejected. Never before has he failed to deliver a message. Lying awake in bed he decides the only thing he can do is to meet the sender of the letter the next night at the seaside and apologize.

He arrives early with a gift of seashells and discovers the seashore “draped in seaweed and starfish. Candles floated in clamshells, There were sand sculptures and umbrellas.” Standing in the festive atmosphere are the maker of cakes, the candy shop owner, the woman and her daughter, and all the others the Uncorker had met in his search the previous day. As the rest of the group play music, the little girl asks the Uncorker to dance, and although the man says he isn’t sure he knows how, he twirls the little girl on the golden sand.

Later, sitting quietly the party gazes out at the ocean that has brought them together. The Uncorker has opened a gift chosen specifically for him and is enjoying a piece of cake while “his heart was a glass vessel filled to the brim.”

Michelle Cuevas’s unique story of a man adrift in life without the anchor of family or friends is a gorgeously written reminder that companionship is often waiting if we just invite it in. With moving language and fresh, evocative metaphors—in two of my favorites, loneliness is “as sharp as fish scales,” and some messages are “very old, crunchy like leaves in the fall”—Cuevas gently nudges readers to acknowledge the little voice inside and discover what else the world has to offer.

Erin E. Stead’s warm green, gold, and gray-hued illustrations rendered in delicate lines and gossamer washes are as wistful as the Uncorker himself. The man’s calm resolve is echoed in the serene ocean water, the soft companionship of his cat, and the tidy seaside town. There is a wonderful quiet, unhurried feeling to each page which seems to allow not only the Uncorker but the reader to enjoy contemplative moments. The final scene of the party happily enjoying the view and each other’s company fulfills not only the Uncorker’s deepest longing, but that of readers as well.

For it’s beauty and message The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles should find a place on every child’s and school library’s book shelf. Adults will enjoy this book as much as children and it would make a wonderful coffee table book.

Ages 4 and up

Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2016 | ISBN 978-0803738683

Discover more books by Michelle Cuevas on her website!

View a gallery of artwork and children’s book illustration by Erin E. Stead on her website!

Good Neighbor Day Activity

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Bottle of Friendship

 

Sometimes a small gesture means so much more! With this easy craft you can make a unique-to-you message for a neighbor or friend that can later also be used as a vase. After making the Bottle of Friendship, take it to a recipient or leave it on the doorstep as a nice surprise!

Supplies

  • Recycled glass or plastic bottle, or a decorative bottle from a craft store
  • Glitter (Or Glitter Glue)
  • Glue
  • Real or imitation flowers
  • Small piece of paper
  • Thread or string

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the bottle
  2. Along the bottom (or in any design you’d like) spread the glitter glue. If using glue and glitter separately, spread glue and sprinkle with glitter.
  3. Let the bottle dry
  4. Write a note of thanks or friendship on a small piece of paper
  5. Roll and tie with thread or string
  6. Add flowers and the note to your bottle
  7. Deliver!

Picture Book Review

 

September 6 – Read a Book Day

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About the Holiday

Avid readers, rejoice! Today is your day – a whole 24 hours dedicated to the fine pursuit of perusing an old favorite or a newly discovered book! To celebrate visit a local bookstore or library then find a cozy nook or shady spot and settle in for a good, long read.

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

Written by Jen Bryant | Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

 

When Louis Braille was born he was so small that no one in town expected him to live. But he did! Louis thrived and with his curious eyes took in everything around him. Louis was smart, too, with a prodigious memory for names and stories. His father worked with leather, making harnesses and bridles. Louis wanted to be just like him and often reached for the sharp tools on the workbench, but his father always warned him away.

One terrible day, however, when Louis’ father glanced away, Louis grabbed an awl and tried to work it into the smooth leather, but it slipped. Louis’ damaged eye was bandaged and he was told not to touch it. But when the bandage began to itch, young Louis couldn’t help himself and spread the infection to his other eye. By the age of five, Louis was left in darkness, unable to see the faces of those he loved or the attractions of home.

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Image copyright Boris Kulikov, courtesy Alfred A. Knopf

Louis learned the sounds of the world. He discovered the number of steps around his house, to the outbuildings, and eventually to the shops and businesses in town. His brother taught him how to whistle and use the reverberations to avoid obstacles. He also learned to feel the shapes of letters made of straw, leather, or nailed replicas made by his family. He played dominoes by feeling the dots with his fingers.

While Louis listened to others read to him, he longed to be able to read on his own. Whenever he asked if there were books for blind people, however, the answer was always, “No.” A noblewoman who lived nearby heard of Louis and invited him to study at the Royal School for the Blind in Paris. At the age of 10 he moved to the boarding school.

The Royal School was anything but sumptuous. Louis’ room was crowded, damp, and dark. His uniform itched, and meals were meager and cold. He so wanted to return home, but the promise of books for the blind kept him there. Those books were reserved for the best students, and Louis vowed to be one. Finally, Louis was led to the library. A book thudded onto the table in front of him. “‘Voila! There it is,’” the guide said.

Louis opened the book. To read it he had to feel the raised letters, but the letters were huge and a page only held a few sentences. To make matters worse, the book consisted of only a few pages. “‘Is that all?’” Louis asked. The guide told him there were others but that they were all the same. More than ever Louis wanted to go home.

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Image copyright Boris Kulikov, courtesy Alfred A. Knopf

In the morning Louis was shaken awake; the headmaster had an important announcement.  It seemed that a French army captain had devised a secret code read by touch instead of sight. This code could be used at the school, the headmaster said. The code consisted of raised dots set in patterns that represented various sounds. The boys learned the new code then learned how to write it, using an awl-like implement that punched dots into paper.

While the code was a breakthrough, it was hard to learn and all the other boys in the school had given up—but not Louis. Still, reading the code was not like reading a book with letters, words, and sentences. Louis asked the headmaster if the army captain would work with him to improve the code, but when the headmaster asked, the answer was “No.”

Louis knew what he had to do. Night after night he punched dots into paper with the awl-like tool—just as he had watched his father do with leather. He tried “hundreds of ways to simplify the captain’s code.” Three years passed, and Louis turned 15. Finally, he had a workable solution. He asked the headmaster to read to him a book he had never heard. As the headmaster read, Louis copied his words, punching letters onto paper. Louis’ “new code used just six dots, arranged in two columns, like dominoes. Each dot pattern stood for a letter of the alphabet.”

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Image copyright Boris Kulikov, courtesy Alfred A. Knopf

When the headmaster finished reading chapter 1, Louis turned his pages over and “reading by touch, recited the entire chapter.” After that “word spread quickly. The other students rushed to try it. Si facile! ‘So easy!’ Et si vite! ‘And so fast!’ ‘We can read words and write letters like everyone else,’” the other boys exclaimed.

As Louis watched his friends read he remembered watching his “Papa in his shop, bent over rough strips of leather, making them useful. I had become like him, after all,” Louis thought.

An Author’s Note, more fascinating biographical information about Louis Braille’s life and other inventions, resources, and the Braille alphabet follow the text.

In her Author’s Note Jen Bryant says she wanted to express what it felt like to be Louis Braille. In Six Dots she succeeds in bringing the story of this very young inventor and genius to life with details of his accidental blindness, family support, school experiences, and ultimate victory. Told from Louis Braille’s point of view, the story has an immediacy that presents Braille’s frustrations, challenges, and achievements sensitively and honestly. His perseverance against all odds will inspire readers and give them a new perspective on the unique person Braille was, the importance of books for all, and what children not much older than the readers of Six Dots can accomplish.

Boris Kulikov’s mixed media illustrations take readers back to the France of the early 1800s, depicting with soft colors and period details the town, people, and influences in Louis Braille’s life. Braille’s initial accident is treated with thoughtful consideration of the book’s audience, and his blindness and dreams are portrayed with transparent outlines on a black background. Readers will be interested to see how Louis’s family and friends supported and helped him (an unusual occurrence of the time). As Louis grows, readers discover his other talents for music and sewing, and the tools Louis used to produce his Braille pages are clearly shown.

Ages 4 – 9

Alfred A. Knopf, 2016 | ISBN 978-0449813379

View Jen Bryant’s website for activities, videos, and links related to Six Dots—you’ll also discover more of her books too!

To see a gallery of images by Boris Kulikov for books and other illustration work, visit his website!

Read a Book Day Activity

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I Love the Library! Coloring Page

 

Today is a perfect day to visit your library and check out some awesome books! Here’s a printable I Love the Library! Coloring Page for you to enjoy too!

August 5 – It’s National Peach Month

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About the Holiday

Is there anything as delicious as a perfectly ripe peach? Native to China and classified with the almond, the peach is peachy in pies, tarts, fruit salads, and just on its own. To celebrate today pick some peaches from a local farm, farmer’s market, or grocery store and enjoy!

Each Peach Pear Plum

By Janet and Allan Ahlberg

 

This perennial children’s favorite “I spy” nursery rhyme book is a perfect read any time, but especially during the summer when it can be tucked away in a travel bag or picnic basket and enjoyed on the go. After the first introduction of “Each peach pear plum / I spy Tom Thumb,” in which readers are invited to find Tom who is happily reading high in a peach tree nearly hidden by leaves and fruit, every page offers another double challenge.

Building on the discovery in the preceding page, kids are given a hint as to the current whereabouts of the previous character and are also urged to find another nursery rhyme or literary favorite: “Tom Thumb in the cupboard / I spy Mother Hubbard” followed by “Mother Hubbard down the cellar / I spy Cinderella.”  This structure creates anticipation in even the youngest readers as they begin to recognize the pattern and wonder who is coming next.

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Copyright Janet and Allan Ahlberg, 1999, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers

Besides Tom Thumb, Old Mother Hubbard, and Cinderella, the Three Bears, Baby Bunting, Little Bo-Peep, Jack and Jill, the Wicked Witch, Robin Hood, and a deliciously plump Plum Pie are hidden in the book. What makes Each Peach Pear Plum a classic is the Ahlberg’s artistic magic, which is on gorgeous display in every illustration. The vivid, fine-line drawings spare no details in bringing the short text fully to life.

Humor abounds, especially in the depiction of the “hidden” character or characters, whose only appearance is an arm dusting a shelf, faces at a window, feet sticking out of tall grass, a camouflaged archer, and more. And perhaps the clumsy baby bear could use a bit of assistance! Kids will love pointing out the birds and bunnies, dog, cat, and other animals that also follow from page to page.

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Copyright Janet and Allan Ahlberg, 1999, courtesy Viking Books for Young Readers

Each Peach Pear Plum is also a wonderful introduction to the literature alluded to and will entice kids to hear all the stories contained in this forever favorite. Each Peach Pear Plum makes a fantastic gift for new babies or young readers and belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Ages Birth – 5 and up

Viking Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 1999 | ISBN 978-0670882786 (Board Book Edition)

It’s National Peach Month Activity

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Peachy Picnic Find the Differences Puzzle

 

These two friends are enjoying a picnic and took two selfies. Can you spot the 12 differences between the two pictures in this printable Peachy Picnic Find the Differences Puzzle?

August 4 – Assistance Dog Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday comes during International Assistance Dog Week, a time to recognize the work and benefits of canine helpers of all types. Assistance dogs offer comfort, independence, and reassurance to people who have them as members of the family. Not only do dogs of various breeds help the vision and hearing challenged, but they are also trained to recognize the signs of medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, seizures, and epilepsy. Owners of these friends and helpers know that they have the perfect dog, just like the little girl in today’s book!

The Perfect Dog

By Keven O’Malley

 

Getting a dog is a major decision. Paramount, perhaps, is what type of dog is best, and with so many breeds, how do you break it down? When the little girl in The Perfect Dog receives permission to get a dog, she begins her list for just the right pet. “The perfect dog should be big” she says as she imagines holding a Chow Chow. Or maybe “bigger” like a German Shephard, or even “biggest” like a Saint Bernard that stands taller than she is. But a Great Dane? Maybe not that big.

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Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

 

On the other hand maybe “the perfect dog should be small”—standing around knee height—or “smaller”—mid shin height—or “smallest”—able to fit in a purse. But small enough to sit on her head? Maybe not that small. Next she considers the length of the dog’s hair. “The perfect dog should have long hair,” she believes, already assembling her grooming supplies to plump a poodle’s coif. Or the “longer” hair of a Sheep Dog might be fun to comb and cut, and the “longest” hair of an Afghan Hound would be a dream to brush. But the locks of a Komondor? Maybe not that long.

The girl knows the dog should not be too loud or too slobbery, but it should definitely be “fancy.” Speed is also a consideration. “Fast” as a Beagle? Maybe “faster,” like a Dalmatian. But “fastest,” like a Greyhound, could make walking the dog a challenge. Snuggly is nice for quiet times, but a dog so snuggly it takes over the whole chair is not what the girl has in mind. The little girl does not want a pet that is too slow or too messy either.

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Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

The day finally arrives for the girl and her family to pick out their new pet. There are so many to choose from! Looking into each face and taking each dog’s traits and qualities into consideration, the family decides that “the perfect dog should be happy…happier…happiest!” But there’s still one surprise waiting. Instead of the girl choosing the perfect dog, she reveals that “the perfect dog found me!” And it was a very happy ending!

Part concept book, part tribute to people’s “best friend,” Kevin O’Malley’s The Perfect Dog is a fun romp through different breeds and their unique qualities. If you’ve ever attended a dog show or watched one on TV, you know that there are as many types of canines as there are people. O’Malley applies the language concept of superlatives to describe big, bigger, biggest; long, longer, longest; and other shapes, sizes, and traits in a way that attracts kids’ attention and fosters understanding.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-perfect-dog-happy-dog

Image copyright Kevin O’Malley, courtesy of pinterest.com/booksbyomalley/kevin-omalley

As the little girl “tries out” various dogs, O’Malley’s bold, full-bleed illustrations proceed from funny to funnier to funniest, often to the little girl’s dismay. She gets knocked down by the biggest of biggest dogs, finds herself hidden in the longest of longest hair, and flies straight out from the end of the leash attached to the fastest of fastest dogs.

O’Malley knows, too, the real secret about choosing a new pet—one that kids will delight in, just as they do in this book. For any pet lover The Perfect Dog is…perfect!

Ages 3 – 8

Crown Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2016 | ISBN 978-1101934418

Be sure to visit Kevin O’Malley’s website! You can learn more about his books, watch a video of one of his school visits, and even download free books!

Assistance Dog Day Activity

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I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search

 

Assistance dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Find the names of more than 25 types of dogs in this printable I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search

Picture Book Review

June 3 – Repeat Day

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About the Holiday

Remember how your brother or sister or friend used to repeat everything you said? Everything you said? Well, that has been made into a holiday! Today gives you the perfect excuse to do your favorite things twice! Go ahead, have two lattes, watch your favorite show twice, listen to an album over again! Whatever you do, just remember to double up on it!

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems

Written by Marilyn Singer | Illustrated by Josée Masse

 

When you ask someone, “Can you repeat that?” they often use the exact same words so you understand what they want to tell you. But what if the exact same words could have completely different meanings? That’s the brilliant concept behind Follow Follow. In this ingenious book, 17 classic fairy tales are told in verse (and reverse) from two opposing points of view that will forever change the way you think about exchanges of ideas and dialogue.

In Your Wish Is My Command, Aladdin and the Jinni trade wishes and their view of what freedom means. Six lines from this clever poem read from Aladdin’s perspective: “I no longer wish to be a slave / to lords, magicians, merchants, other urchins. / Jinni of the Lamp, / I am just a poor / young knave. / Give me all I crave.”

And then from the Jinni’s perspective: “Give me all I crave, / young knave. / I am just a poor / Jinni of the Lamp. / To lords, magicians, merchants, other urchins, / I no longer wish to be a slave.”

The Emperor’s New Clothes loses none of its impact in Birthday Suit, a humorous abbreviated telling from the King’s ego-centric thoughts and the little boy’s stunning revelation.

Just as the original tale of The Golden Goose presents a princess who can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous parade going by her window, Silly Goose reveals both sides of the princess’s personality.

Ready, Steady, Go! gets into the heads of both the too-clever-for-his-own-good rabbit and his persevering competitor of The Tortoise and the Hare. The lounging hare thinks: “That ridiculous loser! / I am not / a slowpoke. / Though I may be / the smallest bit distracted, / I can’t be / beat. / I’ve got rabbit feet to / take me to the finish line.” While the tortoise urges himself: “Take me to the finish line! / I’ve got rabbit feet to / beat. / I can’t be / the smallest bit distracted. / Though I may be / a slowpoke, / I am not / that ridiculous loser.”

Will the Real Princess Please Stand Up? peeks into two bedrooms where would-be brides to the prince slumber. One exclaims, “This bed rocks! / I feel like I’m sleeping on feathery flocks,…” but the other complains, “feathery flocks? / I feel like I’m sleeping on / rocks.” Who will win the heart of the prince?

The Little Mermaid, Puss in Boots, The Pied Piper of Hameln, Thumbelina, The Three Little Pigs, The Nightingale, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses are also touched with Marilyn Singer’s magic wand of poetry. Under her spell the perfect choice and placement of words combined with a simple change of punctuation can send the verse swirling in the opposite direction with surprising results. As readers encounter each fairy tale, they’ll wonder, “How does she do it?” But there’s no time to ponder—another terrific tale follow follows!

Like being on the cusp of competing realities, Josée Masse’s vibrant illustrations deftly represent the viewpoints of the mirrored verses. On either side of a subtly split page, the opposing characters tell their side of the story amid contrasting color schemes and flowing lines that bridge the divide. In Your Wish Is My Command, Aladdin dreams in his rooftop window of riches and freedom while the Jinni floats away from his lamp over golden rooftops. On with the Dance makes clever use of the half-page design as the king ponders the condition of his daughters’ shoes while they are pictured dancing in a regal hall that doubles as the king’s crown.

Follow Follow would be a welcome addition to any fairy tale or poetry lover’s bookshelf. And since Marilyn Singer and Josée Masse really know what Repeat Day is all about, you’ll want to check out their other books: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems and their newest, Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths.

English and language arts teachers will also find these volumes to be a wonderful way to teach point of view.

Ages 5 – 11 and up (anyone who loves fairy tales will want to read this book)

Dial Books, Penguin Group, 2013 | ISBN 978-0803737693                                                         

Repeat Day Activity

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Book Jacket Bookmark

 

When a book is long, you can’t always finish it in one sitting. If you forget where you left off, you can often find yourself reading the same section twice. That’s okay—especially on Repeat Day!—but this bookmark will help you remember your place and get you reading again in style!

Supplies

  • Printable Book Jacket bookmark 
  • Colored pencils or markers
  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Color your bookmark in your own unique style
  2. Cut the bookmark out
  3. Glue it to poster board if you’d like to make it more durable