November 28 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

Picture books are one of a child’s best gifts! As this month’s literary holiday draws to a close and the gift-giving season opens, consider giving books to the young children and even babies on your shopping list.  Head to your local bookstore to find plenty of exciting and inspiring titles for any child. Not quite sure what to get? Ask your bookseller for a recommendation!

My First Book of Patterns

Written by Bobby and June George | Illustrated by Boyoun Kim

 

Patterns are part of learning from day one. As babies begin navigating and becoming alert to their world, they see, hear, and react to visual and linguistic patterns that inform and form their perceptions of their surroundings and their language. Sharing and making shapes and patterns with children also help them develop an early awareness and understanding of math concepts which translates into future success in school.

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and Jane George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

My First Book of Patterns introduces the youngest readers to nine types of shapes and patterns.. As the book progresses, the text follows its own pattern, allowing children to anticipate what words are coming and giving older listeners the opportunity to read along.

The eye-popping color and dynamic scenes will keep any child enthralled, whether you are sharing the book all at once or just dipping in for a page or two at a time. Speaking of which… let’s check it out! First up is that fundamental shape, the line! A single white line on a pink background is pretty neat, but “a lot of lines make… Stripes!” And stripes can be found all over the underwater landscape—on the turtle’s shell, marking the various rocks, decorating the jellyfish, and coloring the fish and coral.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-my-first-book-of-patterns-argyle

Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and June George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

When that thin line is joined by a thick line and the pattern is repeated, they make plaid. And…Wow! A whole town made of plaid! Blue and purple plaid shirts; green, red, and yellow plaid skirts; plaid backpacks; plaid bags; plaid awnings; and even plaid buildings! This is one city that loooves plaid! Next, is a zig-zag. “A lot of zig-zags make…Chevron!” Look at all the toys decorated in chevron! Little cars, little trains, books, a jack-in-the-box, and blocks too! Hmmm…it seems there are also some lines in this toy shop. Do you think so, too?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-my-first-book-of-patterns-toys

Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Ah, the square! “A lot of squares make…Checks!” Out on the ocean it’s a checkerboard extravaganza with sails, boats, and even the lighthouse all made out of checks. After the square comes the circle, and lots of circles are called polka dots. Polka dots make everything look cute—from placemats to bowls to vases to…fruit? You bet! Hey! Some of that fruit looks like an individual circle—pretty cool!

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Now the shapes are getting a little more complex. Repeating diamond shapes make harlequin; patterns of diamonds and lines make argyle; connected hexagons form honeycomb; and topsy-turvy teardrops become paisley. And what do you get with a field of flowers? Floral, of course—which makes everything look like springtime!

Ready to go through them again? Open the gate-fold pages and find an ice-cream shop full of your favorite pattern flavor ready to enjoy again!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-my-first-book-of-patterns-square

Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and Jane George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Bobby and June George, Montessori educators, present a book that is both straightforward and creative—inviting all children to interact with it in whatever way most resonates with them. Boyoun Kim’s stylistic illustrations add vitality and enthusiasm to each shape and pattern as the introductory pages allow children to see the basic shape or pattern and then give way to a two-page spread where the pattern can be found on a variety of objects.

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Image copyright Boyoun Kim, 2017, text copyright Bobby and June George, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Like a scavenger hunt, these scenes also let little ones find the shapes, such as squares, circles, lines, rectangles, and triangles along the way or on repeated readings. There are also plenty of opportunities for adults to point out or allow their children to find other examples of patterns within the scenes.

My First Book of Patterns is a sturdy board book that makes it a great choice for babies and very young children and also for taking along on outdoor jaunts or for waiting times.

Ages 1 – 6

Phaidon, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714872490

To learn more about Bobby George and his work, visit his website.

Read more about June George and her Montessori school on the baan dek website.

Discover more about Boyoun Kim and view a gallery of her art work on her website.

Picture Book Month Activity

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Book Worm Bookmark

 

If you love books print and color this Book Worm Bookmark. This avid reader will help you keep your place in your favorite books!

Picture Book Review

October 9 – Curious Events Day

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate the mysteries in life. Those little (and big) events that make us scratch our heads, rush to our favorite social media site, or ponder the greater meaning of life. It seems there’s always something we’d like to understand better, a conspiracy theory we’d like proved or disproved conclusively, or just a question that has always nagged at the back of one’s mind. Sometimes even the most obvious of occurrences aren’t exactly what they seem—as in today’s book. Take the opportunity of Curious Events Day to explore the questions you have!

Something’s Fishy

By Jean Gourounas

 

A vigilant penguin sits beside an ice-fishing hole while snowflakes flutter in the air. Her line dips silently into the blue water. “Hey, what are you doing?” a smiling rabbit asks, coming up behind her. But the penguin only tells him to “shh!” The rabbit is an inquisitive little rascal, though, and sort of asks the obvious: “Are you fishing?” All this talking brings in the walrus, who’s also curious as to what’s happening. The bunny tells the walrus his view of the fishing idea.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-something's-fishy-penguin-fishing

Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Fishing! Well, the walrus wants to know if the penguin is catching anything. It looks grim, the rabbit says, just as a seal comes on the scene and asks the requisite question. “Shh!” the penguin tells them again. The seal repeats the previous conversation, asking “Are any fish biting?” The answer is still the same, though, and the bunny doesn’t know what’s wrong with those fish.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-something's-fishy-rabbit-comes-in

Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

A moose approaches the group and, despite the fishing hole, the fishing pole, and the fishing line, asks what the penguin is doing. The others are happy to confirm the fishing interpretation of events. The moose is quicker on the draw to see that the fish are not biting, but wants to know why. Ah, the age-old question of fishermen everywhere. “We don’t know!” exclaim the seal and walrus. But the rabbit has decided to add a bit of erudition to the conversation: “I’m baffled,” he states.

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Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The person who has just come along is also intrigued to know whether the penguin has been successful. “No!” rings out from the crowd. Then they all wonder what’s wrong. That may be good enough for everyone else, but the rabbit ups the ante with another big word: “I’m perplexed,” he admits. Next up is a polar bear, who just wants to know what’s going on. Having spent so much time trying to discover the same thing, the rest of the crew feel at one with the penguin and shout, “We’re fishing!” The rabbit includes the caveat “But the fish aren’t biting.”

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Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The polar bear knows a thing or two about catching fish and inquires about the type of bait. Ah ha! Now we’re getting somewhere. “Some cake,” answers the penguin. The idea of cake as fish bait doesn’t seem to trouble anyone. In fact, they can’t believe the fish haven’t jumped at the chance to have this tasty treat. The rabbit? Well, he’s just plain flummoxed. When a bull enters the picture, he takes one look around and asks, “Hey, are you guys having a party?” He gets filled in on the whole fishing/cake/not biting thing, and they all decide that “something’s fishy!”

At last it seems the penguin is going to succeed! She tells everyone to quiet down because she hears something. Bubbling up from deep below the ice comes, “SURPRISE!” as a school of fish wearing party hats wish a stunned newcomer “Happy Birthday!” And when they’ve nibbled their fill, the fish call up for “More cake, please!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-something's-fishy-polar-bear-joins-group

Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

This sly puzzle of a story by Jean Gourounas will delight readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Along the way, children are given some hints that turn out not to be red herrings at all, but real clues to this gentle arctic mystery. Young readers may wonder why the penguin needs quiet, what the fish are waiting for, and even if there’s something to the bull’s suggestion of a party. Kids will giggle as the same questions and answers are asked over and over again in various ways, and don’t be surprised when your little one adds the words “baffled,” “perplexed,” and “flummoxed” to their growing vocabulary. 

Gourounas’ rounded-off characters are cute and expressive, welcoming others to the group and the ongoing discussion with wide, wondering eyes. Sometimes they consider each other, while at other times they look right out at the reader, inviting them to join in too. The brown, textured paper and matte blue, white, brown, and black hues that define the various animals, work in conjunction with the text to create a low-key gathering above ground that is a humorous counterpoint to the festivities below. Little ones who might be concerned with the fate of the fish as they nibble on the cake will be cheered by the last page—and may want a piece of cake themselves to celebrate this funny book.

Ages 3 – 6

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714875316

Curious Events Day Activity

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Haunted House Coloring Page

 

The month of October is full of curious events, spooky mysteries, and surprises. Here’s a printable Haunted House Coloring Page for you to enjoy. Add some ghosts and other curious characters from your imagination to the room!

Picture Book Review

October 6 – It’s National Carry a Tune Week

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About the Holiday

Celebrating its 17th year, Carry a Tune Week, sponsored by the Center for American Music Preservation (CAMP), invites everyone to enjoy American music from the past. If you have a favorite tune, today’s the time to sing, hum, or whistle it! If can’t choose a favorite, CAMP has you covered. This year’s tune is the theme song from the movie Casablanca. You must remember that! Oh! I mean…You must remember this: “As Time Goes By.” If you’d like to check out tunes from previous celebrations, visit the American Music Preservation website.

Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC

Written by Barney Saltzberg | Illustrated by Fred Benaglia

 

When you hear the words twinkle, twinkle, little star, it’s almost impossible not to think of the nursery song. When you hear the letters ABC, you might again think of a nursery song. In fact, you’re thinking of the same tune! And that tune? It sure is a catchy one! So catchy that once learned those songs, they stay with you forever. Barney Saltzberg has taken delightful advantage of this whimsy in Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC.

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Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The sing-along, read-aloud starts like this: “Twinkle, twinkle, ABC, / A mixed-up, mashed-up melody. / A twinkly star, an alphabet, / Just how silly can we get? / Twinkle, twinkle, ABC. / Next time won’t you play with me?” From there the song takes flight with kids soaring over a city on the wings of birds. Next, the skyscrapers become multi-colored pillars for the kids to hop on and leap over. Coming back to the alphabet, readers are treated to: “Twinkle, twinkle, ABC, / Don’t forget D E F G. / A cow can MOO, and twirl and spin, / Left leg out, right leg in. / Twinkle, twinkle, ABC, A mixed-up, mashed –up jamboree!”

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Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Now the children meet up with a bear, who leads them on a tightrope walk while they “Growl” and “GRRR.” That bear is pretty talented too, strumming a banjo on his knee to introduce H I J K L M N O P. Moving to the forest, the kids play a game of hide-and-seek with Q R S T U V and swing from branches like leaves blown in the wind. Just in the nick of time, a colorful caterpillar strolls by wearing sensible shoes, a jaunty hat, and the letters W X Y and Z. The jangly jingle begins again and the friends grasp hands and sing. But are they getting sleepy after their busy day? “We TWEET and MOO and GRRR and WHOOSH, / Singing, quietly, softly, shush. / Twinkle, twinkle, ABC. / A mixed-up, mashed-up, zzzzzz.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-abc-dancing

Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Barney Saltzberg’s exuberant combination of two favorite songs will have kids up and dancing on the first read and singing along on the second and all subsequent reads. Along the way Saltzberg uses familiar lines from both songs and even throws in a bit of direction from the Hokey-Pokey. Saltzberg’s perfect rhythm and rhymes make this book a joy to read or sing aloud. and his bouyant words will inspire plenty of action-packed story times.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-abc-holding-hands

Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Adding to the fun are Fred Benaglia’s lively and fanciful illustrations in which three children ride birds, slide on the letters of the alphabet, and play on a tightrope. Along the way they meet an orange, banjo-playing bear, a tutu-wearing cow, and a snazzy caterpillar who also join in the fun. The rhythm of the song is even helped along with clever placement of the letters, as when Q R S are divided from T U V by a tree trunk, reminding singers and readers to pause for just a moment between the runs. Benaglia’s color palette is vibrant and his perspectives eye-catching, making this “mixed-up mash-up” a letter-perfect book.

Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC is a picture book kids will love to interact with. It would make a much-appreciated baby gift or birthday gift and an often-read or sung addition to classroom and home libraries.

Ages 1 – 4

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714875071

Discover more about Barney Saltzberg and his books on his website.

View a gallery of illustration and art work by Fred Banaglia on his website.

National Carry a Tune Week Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-instrumental-game

It’s Instrumental! Game

 

Carrying a tune is easier when you’re accompanied by musical instruments. Play this game to acquire a full orchestra to back up your singing!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the Paper Cube Template, cut it out and assemble the cube die.
  2. Print the Musical Instruments cards, cut out cards, and separate the instruments into piles
  3. Players take turns rolling the die cube to collect musical instrument cards
  4. The first player to collect all 6 instrument cards is the winner

Picture Book Review

September 17 – It’s Better Breakfast Month

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About the Holiday

What makes a better breakfast than a tall stack of pancakes? With so many varieties—from buttermilk to buckwheat to chocolate chip—and so many toppings, such as syrup, fruit, and jam, you could have a different breakfast nearly every day of the year!

Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Sometimes a novelty book comes along that transcends the “kid” category and provides fun and “Ooooh!’ moments for readers of all ages. Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book offers just this kind of delicious excitement. Opening the cover is like walking into a cozy kitchen, finding your favorite recipe and gathering all the necessary ingredients. The first two-page spread presents in visuals and words the recipe and the utensils and other cooking items needed to make pancakes.

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

With the second two-page spread, cooking begins! A scoop of baking powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt are added to the bowl. But what about the cup of flour? Readers get to add that themselves with a pull tab that simulates the flour joining the other ingredients in the green mixing bowl. The clever cut of the opening and the mottled and powdery appearance of the illustrated flour gives the sensation of actual pouring.

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

Next, readers get to measure out the cup of milk with the help of a pull tab that gives kids control over the amount being served. Four marks on the side of the measuring cup provide an opportunity to talk about fractions and the ¼, ½, and ¾ lines that are also incorporated into real glass measuring cups or the separate cups that come as part of a set. Once the milk is ready, it goes into the mixing bowl with the melted butter and the egg.

Grab your whisk and get stirring! A wheel on the side of the page lets kids “combine” these wet ingredients from their individual parts into a cohesive yellow batter. Now that the batter is ready, it’s time for “STEP 4: Ladle the batter into separate circles in the hot, buttered frying pan.” Readers will love pulling the tab that releases the batter into the pan—leaving just a drop of batter to sizzle on its own (and you know how good those crispy drops can be!)

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

The batter is bubbling—which means it’s time to flip the flap jacks! As the spatula appears from the top of the page, kids can lift one of the little round yellow pancakes from the fry pan and turn it over. Ingeniously, the reverse side is delectably browned. A turn of the page invites by-now-hungry readers to follow “STEP 6: When both sides are browned, stack the finished pancakes on a plate.”

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

A pancake-sized round indentation on the plate just begs to be filled with the browned pancake from the previous page. Adding the pancake to the sunny plate, kids will feel as if they are holding the spatula and carefully slipping it atop a stack ready to be eaten.  The last page encourages readers to “add butter, syrup, fruit, jam, lemon juice, honey, or whipped cream and taste what you’ve made! Delicious!”

Lotta Nieminen’s Pancakes! is so wonderfully conceived in its bold vibrant images and simple recitation of a pancake recipe. The crisp lines and absence of labels on the ingredients’ packages, puts the focus on the shapes, providing a chance for discussion of concepts such as rectangle, circle, half-circle, cylinder, oval, and triangle; flat and round; and bigger and smaller. Ideas such as hot and cold, measuring, pouring, mixing, stacking and others can also be introduced. The brilliant interactive elements invite kids and adults alike to play with this book over and over.

The sturdy board pages and convenient size make this a perfect take-along for trips to the market, picnics, appointments, sibilings’ activities, or other outings where waiting is required. For kids and adults who like to help out in the kitchen, love to cook, or are attracted by all things culinary, Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book makes a terrific gift and must have for home bookshelves. 

Ages 2 and up

Phaidon Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0714872834

To view a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen, visit her website!

Better Breakfast Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancake-game

Pancake Flip-Out

 

Pancakes are served in a stack because they’re so delicious each one doesn’t last long! This game gives you the chance to see how many pancakes you can flip onto a plate! You can play this game several ways:

To Play Pancake Toss

  1. Give each player the same number of pancakes and see how many they can toss onto the plate during their turn
  2. Make a target with the plate in the middle and draw 3 concentric circles around it. Hitting the target can earn you 20 points. Getting your pancake in the first circle around the plate earns you 15 point, the second circle is worth 10 points, and the third is worth 5 points. Rotate through the players as many times as you like and add up the points at the end. The player with the most points wins!
  3. Instead of tossing the pancakes with your hands, try throwing them with a spatula!
  4. Make up your own rules—and have fun!

To Play With Dice

  1. Choose a number of pancakes that each player must add to their plate—say, maybe, a baker’s dozen.
  2. Take turns rolling the dice and adding the number of pancakes rolled to the plate. The first player to reach the agreed-upon number is the winner.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print enough copies of the Pancakes and Breakfast Plates for the game you choose and cut them out. Playing pieces can be printed on card stock or on paper. 
  2. If printing on paper, you can glue the pancakes and plate to poster board, or cardboard to give the pancakes more weight for throwing and the plate more support
  3. Once dry, the game pieces are ready for fun!

Picture Book Review

September 5 – Cheese Pizza Day

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About the Holiday

If you’re wondering what you should have for dinner or lunch…or…heck—even breakfast!—ponder no longer. It’s Cheese Pizza Day, which gives you carte blanche to indulge in this hot, bubbly favorite any time today. And even though the official holiday only mentions cheese, I don’t think anyone will mind if you add a few toppings!

Pizza! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illistrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Out of the frying pan and into the oven, Lotta Nieminen cooks up another delicious “cook in a book” offering. This time kids are making pizza! The first two pages lay out all the ingredients and utensils they will need to create a scrumptious cheese pizza. Once the flour, yeast, sea salt, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, sugar, and water are assembled, it’s time to get out the bowls, spoons, measuring cup, knife, and damp dishtowel.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-ingredients

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

In Steps 1 and 2, little chefs combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl. As they “let it sit for a few minutes until bubbly,” they grab the large bowl. With the magic of a pull tab, the dusty flour and tiny salt crystals flow into the bowl. Next it’s time to “drizzle in the olive oil” and add the yeast mixture. The pull tab makes sure nothing spills! Now, push the spoon back and forth to mix it up into one “big clump of dough!”

Step 4 is even more fun! Kids get to knead the squishy dough before putting it in the bowl and covering it with the cloth. One to two hours later—or with the turn of the page!—the dough is ready to be placed on cooking sheets. Now, preheat the oven to 500 degrees! Just roll the wheel and watch the numbers rise. When you get to 500, you can stop! Open the oven door and pop those pans right inside.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-adding-flour

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

When the crusts are ready, take them out of the oven and use the wooden spoon to swirl on the tomato sauce—Ooo! It’s kind of mesmerizing! Step 9 is where the toppings come in. Would you choose peppers, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, garlic, basil, olives? Or maybe a bit of everything!? Now that all the toppings are…on top, it’s time for “Step 10: Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.”

Hmmmm! The pizzas look sooo delicious! Quick, get the pizza cutter and cut a slice! Lift it out with your fingers…and eat! (Well, pretend to anyway!)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-slice

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Lotta Nieminen’s Cook in a Book board books for kids (and anyone who enjoys cooking and playing) are fun from yummy beginning to delectable end. The text of Pizza! is a recipe that young and adult readers will be tempted to try themselves, but the true joy resides in Nieminen’s smart, sophisticated illustrations. Each page entices readers to interact with the directions with delightfully sequenced actions that invite repeat play. The yellow kneadable “dough” is an ingenious inclusion, and is as much of a stress reliever as it is fun.

Throughout, Pizza! offers plenty of opportunities for children and adults to talk about cooking, utensils, ingredients, and even memories of times spent together. The wheel on the oven is a great way to teach kids about rising temperature and counting by twenty-five. The final page fulfills the promise of the book with a sturdy slice of pizza that can be removed and enjoyed.

Pizza! makes a wonderful gift for children and a unique hostess, new home, bridal shower or other gift for adults. It would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 6 and up

Phaidon Press, 2017 |ISBN 978-0714874098

Discover a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen on her website!

Cheese Pizza Day Activity

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 What’s Your Favorite Topping? Word Search

 

Cheese pizza is great on its own! It also makes the perfect canvas for lots of toppings! Can you find eighteen delicious ingredients in this printable What’s Your Favorite Topping? Word Search? 

 

Picture Book Review

August 27 – Just Because Day

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About the Holiday

With a full calendar of days dedicated to specific topics, causes, holidays, animals, food, places, and emotions, someone thought it would be a good idea to leave one day up to you, and today is it! So if you have a special occasion; a favorite animal; a unique knick-knack; a best-loved book, poem, song, or art piece; or if you just want an excuse to throw a party, celebrate it today!

Animals Hide and Sneak

By Bastien Contraire

 

Just because things are grouped together, it doesn’t mean they’re the same! In his clever discovery books, Bastien Contraire takes advantage of people’s visual flexibility to offer a book full of puzzles that charm and surprise. In his newest book—a board book for little ones—he uses his striking tri-colored imagery to invite readers to really think about what they are seeing.

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Image copyright Bastien Contraire, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Once readers spot the look-alike, they’re enticed to consider the connection between it and the others on the two-page spreads. Opening to the second spread, eight horses of different sizes, mane length, and coloring face off on either side of the split. So, which one is different? Ah! There’s a little rocking horse among them! Children will love talking about what makes it the visitor to the ranch.

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Image copyright Bastien Contraire, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The pretty butterflies, with their yellow, violet, and brown markings and frilled wings almost hide the hibiscus flower in their midst. With its fancy petals and thin, center style it seems to fit right in. But isn’t there more of a connection? Young readers will happily tell you!  Turn the page and—Yikes!—you’ll find eight wiggly snakes all in a row. Wait a minute, though…one of the snakes is kind of stiff, and is that a buckle for a head? Those dots aren’t markings—they’re holes! And it’s not a snake at all—it’s a belt! So what’s the similarity? Kids and adults can take turns on that one.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-animals-hide-and-sneak-big-movers

Image copyright Bastien Contraire, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Here’s one that’s clever and a pun! A bird crane, a construction crane, a flamingo, and a bird crane. So which one is really the odd-one-out? This one will give readers lots to discuss! Next up is a puzzle you can really sink your teeth into—a group of big cats and one walrus! Also included in the pages are heavy movers, farmyard fowl, dogs, barnyard animals, sheep, tropical birds, and some silly monkeys.

The answers to the puzzles are given in the back of the book.

Bastien Contraire’s stylish stencil prints are eye-catching and cheery. The range of images allows young readers to engage with the book in many different ways from categorizing to shape recognition to counting to logical thought and to just plain fun.

Animals Hide and Sneak is an amusing and entertaining book to enjoy at home “just whenever” and to pack along for playground visits, picnics, waiting times, or other outside adventures. 

Ages 1 – 4

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874227

Learn more about Bastien Contraire and his work on his website!

Just Because Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-frog-matching-puzzle

Hop Along Matching Game 

 

Just because they wanted to, these crazy frogs have gotten mixed up! Can you find the matching pairs in this Hop Along Matching Game?

Picture Book Review

August 14 – It’s Family Fun Month

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About the Holiday

Every month can be full of family fun, but in August we take time to celebrate the longer, more relaxed days during summer vacation that can lead to special times together. Little ones especially love having fun while exploring and learning about the world. This month look for those spontaneous or planned moments that make good memories!

Circle, Triangle, Elephant! A Book of Shapes & Surprises

By Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi

 

This brightly colored concept book is sure to intrigue little learners and have them giggling while discovering and pointing out shapes, colors, and even doing some counting. On the first page a regular stack of shapes are presented: “triangle, circle, square.” A large blue square gives support to a smaller pink circle while a smaller red triangle creates a bit of a hat on top. The next page rearranges this order and replaces the square with a rectangle. The circle is still pink, but it’s larger and on top. Underneath is an orange rectangle, and balancing these two shapes on its tip is the triangle, now purple.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-circle-triangle-elephant-elephants

Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Turning the page, we find: “triangle, elephant?!, circle” Wait, what?! Oh my! This does shake things up a bit! How did that elephant get between a pink triangle and a red circle? And he’s brought his family! On the next page we find a small elephant standing on a larger elephant who’s standing on a yellow rectangle. I’m sure they’re just passing through and we’ll be back to regular shapes in a second.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-circle-triangle-elephant-boats

Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Maybe if we turn the page really fast… “elephant, boat!, triangle” Oh! I see, the little elephant is taking a boat ride home, but they have run aground on a teal triangle. Here come “boat, boat, boat” to help! Ah, good! The elephants are safely on their way now. One more boat to go and we’ll be back to… “triangle, face! square.” That’s no ordinary face—it’s cute and clownish. A bit like a jack-in-the-box, really, the way it’s resting on a blue rectangle and wearing a yellow triangle at a jaunty angle.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-circle-triangle-elephant-faces

Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Okay, okay, on the next page there are… a couple more faces bouncing on a pointy triangle. I hope they’re not balloons! And on the facing page is our original face stacked with a very pretty green rectangle and a bright yellow lemon! Oh! The next page is nice. It makes a bit of a picture: the orange sun is shining above a bus that’s traveling on a green square carpet of grass. Uh-oh! The bus has gone a little off course. On the next page it’s driving on top of two big lemons. “bus, lemon, lemon.” Is that even possible?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-circle-triangle-elephant-bus-lemons

Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Hmmm… what’s this next one? “square, square, square.” Not quite as exciting, you think? Maybe, but look! The top square is yellow, the bottom square is red, and the middle square is…? Orange, right! Good job! Oh this is fun! All right, next we have “square, bird, rectangle” and after that “bird, boat, triangle.” On the facing page a small pink bird and a larger green bird are racing that bus. Go, “bird, bird, bus.”

You know what this book could use? A hat. And there it is! Just around the corner: “hat!, square, bus.” Haha! You’ll love the next page: “hat, hat, elephant.” That elephant looks so dapper wearing two hats. Let’s see what else we can find. Awww! Next there’s “square, triangle, fish!” And what a cutie—blue with little green dots! I guess it’s time to wind this fun down with “triangle, circle, square” and two elephants who would each like to say goodbye with their own very colorful triangles and circles.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-circle-triangle-elephant-birds

Copyright Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi have created a concept book that will get little ones excited about learning the names of shapes, colors, and various objects. An enthusiastic reading will have kids laughing and wanting to read along as adults talk with them about what they see on each page. Cleverly constructed, the book invites deeper thought about the shapes and colors presented. The shapes come in different sizes and can also be found within the boat, face, bus, birds, fish, and elephant. Children may discover—on their own or with a bit of help—that with a few adjustments parts of the lemons, elephant, fish, and hats contain or could be made into circles, triangles, squares, or rectangles.

The colors of the shapes and objects are vibrant and eye-catching. The primary colors are all here, but so are the secondary colors and other beautiful mixtures that could lead to an opportunity to get out paints and have fun while experimenting and learning about color.

Circle, Triangle Elephant! A Book of Shapes & Surprises is a wonderful first shapes and colors book for children. It would make a great gift for baby showers, new babies, or toddlers. The sturdy board book is perfect for tucking away in a diaper bag to bring out during waiting times or outdoor activities.

Ages 1 – 5

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874111

Family Fun Month Activity

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Water Color Fun

A splish-splashy way to let kids experiment with colors is to let them explore with a tub or sink full of water and some food coloring. As they drip individual colors into the water, the colors spread, mixing with each other to form new colors.

Supplies

  • A plastic tub, a sink, or a bathtub
  • Food color – one multi-color box
  • An apron or old clothes
  • A spoon or other utensil to mix colors

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Directions

  1. If the child is young and playing at the sink while standing on a stool or chair, adult supervision is advised.
  2. Fill the tub or sink 1/3 to 1/2 way with cool water
  3. Allow child to choose a color from the box
  4. Let the child squeeze the bottle, dropping a bit of color into the water
  5. Let the child choose another color
  6. Before adding this color to the water, talk with your child about what they think will happen when the two colors mix together.
  7. Let the child drop the new color into the water a small distance from the first color
  8. Allow the colors to mix naturally or with a spoon.
  9. You can mix colors in different corners or sections of the tub or sink to see, for instance, what happens when yellow and red food color or blue and red food color mix. What happens if all the colors are mixed together?
  10. Discover your own questions to explore!

Picture Book Review