November 19 – It’s National Gratitude Month

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About the Holiday

When we think about our lives, we can be thankful for many things. At the top of the list for parents and other caregivers are the children in their lives. Gratitude and expressions of thanks are two of the earliest emotions passed down to children through gentle “what do you say?” prompts for any gift or compliment given to teaching kids to write thank-you notes to friends and family. During the holidays—and this week in particular—we are mindful of all of our blessings and of those less fortunate than we are.

Zonderkidz sent me copies of Nighty Night and Good Night and Let’s Get Ready for Bed to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m happy to be partnering with Zonderkidz in a cozy giveaway! See details below.

Nighty Night and Good Night

Written by Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki | Illustrated by Tod Carter | Painted by Chuck Vollmer

 

Ben’s bedtime routine always included a simple prayer. “‘Dear God, Thank you for this day. Please help all of our family and friends sleep well tonight! Amen.’” Then he turned out the light and went to sleep. But sometimes—like tonight—Ben couldn’t fall asleep easily. He turned on his nightlight and that’s when his fluffy friends, Bear, Lamby, and Sleepy Puppy came to life to help.

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Image copyright Tod Carter and Chuck Vollmer, 2018, text copyright Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Lamby, of course, thought counting sheep would put Ben to sleep, but when Ben got to ten he had to stop. He didn’t know what came next, and he wasn’t sleepy yet. Bear suggested Ben fluff his pillow, so he tossed his pillow in the air until it was nice and soft, but he still wasn’t sleepy. Sleepy Puppy was sure that yawning would make Ben tired, so they all marched around the room yawning widely, but that didn’t do the trick either.

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Image copyright Tod Carter and Chuck Vollmer, 2018, text copyright Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

At last, Bear pulled his guitar from behind his pillow, Lamby took to Ben’s little piano, and Sleepy Puppy began thrumming on the bass. It was time for a lullaby! Ben’s three friends began to sing: “‘Lay down, sweet child, and go to sleep. / The Lord be with you and give you His peace. / Lay down, sweet child, and go to sleep. / The Lord be with you tonight.’” Soon, Ben’s eyes began to close. Even Sleepy Puppy was feeling tired too. Lamby prayed one last prayer for Ben to sleep well and the three “drifted off to sleep.”

Ages 2 – 5

Zonderkidz, 2018 | ISBN 978-0310767015

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Let’s Get Ready for Bed

Written by Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki | Illustrated by Tod Carter | Painted by Chuck Vollmer

 

Eddy the bear was looking for his friend Sleepy Puppy. Lamby had just seen him going to get ready for bed. The two thought it would be fun to sneak a peek at Puppy’s nighttime routine. They snuck upstairs where they saw soap bubbles foaming under the bathroom door. Inside, Sleepy Puppy soaked in the clawfoot tub. “A warm bubble bath is what this pup needs / after a big day of mess-making deeds.”

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Image copyright Tod Carter and Chuck Vollmer, 2018, text copyright Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

All clean and dry, Puppy tugged on his favorite pajamas. “Fuzzy and soft, these pj’s are cozy. / They keep his toes warm and turn his cheeks rosy.” Then it’s time to brush his teeth and finally hit the hay. Puppy knew he had something special to do before he climbed under the covers. He knelt by his bed and prayed, “‘Thanks, God, for my family, for my mom and dad, / and for all the fun with my friends that I had.’” Then he asked God to keep them all safe and help them to sleep well.

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Image copyright Tod Carter and Chuck Vollmer, 2018, text copyright Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Looking at a book before closing his eyes was the next step in his routine. The stories were so funny that he laughed and laughed. He shut the book and snuggled in for a long night’s sleep. But he still felt wide awake. He wondered, “‘Did I leave something out? Or do something wrong? I know!’ he remembered. “‘I’m missing a song!’”

Lamby and Eddy were there on the spot. Eddy strummed the guitar and Lamby  played the piano, and their song went like this: “‘Rock-a-bye, Puppy, in the tree top, / When the wind blows the cradle will rock. / Forward and back, the cradle it swings / ‘till deep into sleep, Puppy it brings.’” They sang another verse and Puppy was soon snoozing. “Then Lamby and Bear both whispered good night. They tucked Puppy in and turned off the light.”

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Image copyright Tod Carter and Chuck Vollmer, 2018, text copyright Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki, 2018. Courtesy of Zonderkidz.

Nighty Night and Good Night and Let’s Get Ready for Bed are the first two titles in a new series, Nurturing Steps™ launched by Grammy® Award winning artist Michael W. Smith for babies and toddlers. The series combines books and music to give parents, grandparents, and other caregivers a way to “enliven a young child’s journey with hope and faith through song and storytelling.” The stories are sweet and comforting for little ones as they echo the bedtime routine of many children. Bedtime prayers feature prominently in both stories. In Nighty Night and Good Night, Ben prays with his mother, while in Let’s Get Ready for Bed, Puppy performs all of his bedtime routines on his own.

The familiar dilemma of not being able to fall asleep is addressed in each book with fun suggestions that ultimately lead into the soothing heart of the story—a lullaby. The reassuring words and calming tunes of both songs will quiet children and help them drift off to sleep. As an added bonus, each book includes a link that allows readers to listen to Michael W. Smith sing the same lullaby.

Youngest readers will be charmed by Ben and his three stuffed animals who know just how to be good friends when you need them most. An accompanying album of sleepy songs is also available.

Ages 2 – 5

Zonderkidz, 2018 | ISBN 978-0310767480

You can learn more about Nurturing Steps by visiting the website.

Let’s Get Ready for Bed! Giveaway

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I’m partnering with Zonderkidz in this amazing bedtime giveaway in which one (1) winner receives:

  • Copies of both Nurturing Steps books,
  • Michael W. Smith’s accompanying Lullabyalbum,
  • plus sleepy slippers for your little reader!

Giveaway open to US addresses only. | Prizing and samples provided by Zonderkidz.

Gather around for the Let’s Get Ready for Bed book trailer!

Meet the Nurturing Steps Creators

CPB - Michael W. Smith picture

Michael W. Smith is a successful recording artist who has recorded more than 25 albums and had numerous hit radio songs in the Christian and General markets. He’s won numerous Grammy and Dove Awards and is the founder of Rocketown, an outreach to teenagers in a 38,000 square-foot facility in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. He is involved in mission work around the world. He has also written several best-selling books, including Old Enough to Know and Friends Are Friends Forever. He and his wife, Debbie, have five children and live in Nashville.

You can follow Michael W. Smith on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

 

CPB - Mike Nawrocki image

Mike Nawrocki, co-creator of VeggieTales and the voice of the beloved Larry The Cucumber, has been part of the pulse of the Veggie brand since its inception in 1993. Mike has created, written, and directed most of the popular “Silly Songs with Larry” segments, including fan favorites “His Cheeseburger” and “The Hairbrush Song.” He has also lent his screenwriting and directing talents to dozens of VeggieTales episodes such as “Madame Blueberry and The League of Incredible Vegetables,” as well as both of the properties’ theatrical release films, Jonah and The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. In addition, Mike has authored a number of VeggieTales books and CD projects as well as developing and writing for another of Big Idea’s hit animated properties, 3-2-1 Penguins.  Mike is currently focused on developing new children’s properties centered around fun characters, engaging storytelling, and wholesome values. Mike makes his home in Franklin, TN with his wife and two children.

Visit NurturingSteps.com | Follow Zonderkidz on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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You can find Nighty Night and Good Night and Let’s Get Ready for Bed at these booksellers

Amazon: Nighty Night and Good Night; Let’s Get Ready for Bed | Barnes & Noble: Nighty Night and Good Night; Let’s Get Ready for Bed | Books-a-Million: Nighty Night and Good Night; Let’s Get Ready for Bed | IndieBound: Nighty Night and Good Night; Let’s Get Ready for Bed

Picture Book Review

 

 

 

November 6 – It’s Sleep Comfort Month

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About the Holiday

There’s nothing that refreshes quite as much as a good night’s sleep. That’s why, during Sleep Comfort Month, people are encouraged to take stock of the amount of sleep they get each night. If you lie awake late into the night (or even early morning) and feel sluggish the next day, you may want to consider changing your nightly routine. Limiting light and screen time before bed, keeping the room at a comfortable temperature, and having a set pre-sleep activity like reading or journaling can help you fall asleep quickly and deeply. Children, especially, benefit from a nighttime routine.

The Way Home in the Night

By Akiko Miyakoshi

 

A mother rabbit carries her little bunny home down familiar lamp-lit streets. As they pass the bookshop and the restaurant, they see the workers closing up for the night. The streets are quiet and deserted, adorned with a golden patchwork of light from the windows along the way. Through the windows the bunny sees and hears the neighbors. A phone rings at Mr. Goat’s, the delicious aroma of a pie wafts from Ms. Sheep’s. “A light flickers” where perhaps “someone is watching TV,” and next door “it sounds like there is a big party.”

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Copyright Akiko Miyakoshi, 2017, courtesy of Kids Can Press.

The bunny peers into one window just in time to see two mice saying goodbye. As they approach their own house, the little rabbit’s father joins them. Soon, the bunny knows, it will be time to be tucked into bed. At home Daddy Rabbit pulls up the blankets on his dozing child. Out the window, a crescent moon lights the sky. “Snug under my covers,” the bunny thinks “about the way home. Are the party guests saying goodnight? Is the person on the phone getting ready for bed?” The cook may be taking a long, hot bath, and the bookseller may be “reading on the couch.”

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Copyright Akiko Miyakoshi, 2017, courtesy of Kids Can Press.

The bunny wonders if the pie is being shared and whether all the lighted windows are now dark. The last thing the bunny hears before drifting off to sleep are soft footsteps going by and imagines the mouse is walking to the station to take the train home. Throughout town the bright checkerboard windows keep watch as the long, illuminated trains speed past. “Some nights are ordinary, and other nights are special. But every night we all go home to bed.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-way-home-in-the-night-tucked-into-bed

Copyright Akiko Miyakoshi, 2017, courtesy of Kids Can Press.

Akiko Miyakoshi sleepy, atmospheric bedtime story reflects all the comfort and mystery that nighttime inspires in little ones. The loving child/parent relationship is sweetly depicted in the beautiful, understated acts of the bunny’s being carried home through the softly lit streets and tucked into bed under warm covers. The glimpses into the neighbor’s windows provides a unifying sense of community as do the final pages that pan out to include the entire town and the idea of the wider world traversed by the bright trains coming and going from the station.

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Copyright Akiko Miyakoshi, 2017, courtesy of Kids Can Press.

Miyakoshi’s black, gray, and sepia-toned pencil, charcoal, and gouache illustrations are set aglow with the welcoming light emanating from windows and streetlamps and accented with spots of color in clothing and homey touches. The windows frame cozy vignettes of family life, and young readers may like to imagine their own stories of what is happening in each. Gender neutral clothing and a lack of pronouns makes this a universal book.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-way-home-in-the-night-on-the-phone

Copyright Akiko Miyakoshi, 2017, courtesy of Kids Can Press.

The Way Home in the Night is a cozy, quiet book that is just right for soothing little ones to sleep while giving them the happy assurance of love, commitment, and connection to their world. An exquisite addition to bedtime books, The Way Home in the Night would make a wonderful gift and a favorite choice on any child’s home bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 6

Kids Can Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1771386630

To learn more about Akiko Miyakoshi, her work, and her books, visit her website.

Sleep Comfort Month Activity

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Snuggle Buddy Craft

 

It’s easy to make your own snuggle buddy with a few pieces of fleece, some fiber fill, and a needle and thread or fabric glue. The great thing about creating your own friend is you can personalize your pal anyway you want!

Supplies

  • 1 8-inch by 11-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the body (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project). A larger piece of fleece can be used to make a larger buddy
  • 1 5-inch by 8-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the hair (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project)
  • 1 small piece of fleece or other material for a pocket, clothes, or blanket
  • Small scraps of fleece or other material for the face
  • Fiber Fill
  • Thread and sewing needle OR fabric glue
  • Scissors

Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Fold the large piece of fleece in half lengthwise and sew along the open side and along the bottom. Alternatively, if using a larger size piece of fleece, fold upward and sew or glue the two sides closed.
  2. Turn the form inside out

To Make the Hair

  1. Cut a piece of fleece as wide as your buddy and about 7 – 8 inches long
  2. Fold the fleece lengthwise
  3. Insert both ends of the fleece into the opening at the top of the body
  4. Sew or glue the opening shut, securing the hair
  5. Cut strips about ¼-inch wide from the top of the hair to close to where the hair is sown into the body

To Make a Pocket or Clothes

  1. Cut a piece of fleece in the shape of a pocket, shirt, pants, diaper, or blanket
  2. Sew or glue the pocket or clothes to the buddy

To Make the Face

  1. Cut eyes, a nose, and a mouth in whatever way you would like your buddy to look. 
  2. Sew or glue the face to the buddy
  3. Snuggle up!

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You can find The Way Home in the Night at these booksellers

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

 

Picture Book Review

 

September 20 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

It may be that the most perfect time to read a new book is at the end of the day when work is finished, the chores are done (or at least put off successfully), and you have a little time to relax and drift off into that imaginary world or learn something new about this one. Kids love reading or being read to before going to sleep, and this month-long holiday encourages just that! Whether you read a newly published book, a book that’s new at your local library or bookstore, or a book that’s just new to you, there’s plenty of fun awaiting—as you’ll see in today’s new book!

Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy

Written by Drew Daywalt | Illustrated by Scott Campbell

 

Roderick was a master at stalling bedtime. He knew all the tricks, from asking for a second, third, or even fourth story to asking for more water. “Sometimes he would ask for a pony…just to hear all the reasons why he couldn’t have a pony.” His parents had many, like: “Ponies watch the TV too loud, Ponies never do dishes, and Ponies borrow books and never return them.” At last Roderick’s parents got him “a goodnight buddy to help him sleep.” His name was Sleepy.

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Image copyright Scott Campbell, 2018, text copyright, 2018. Courtesy of scottc.com.

That night as Roderick lay in bed, Sleepy stared at him with his big, unblinking eyes. Roderick tried moving him around his room, but he could always “FEEL Sleepy looking at him.” Finally, Roderick threw him in the closet, but Sleepy didn’t stay there. He peeked out and told Roderick that he was scared. That’s right Sleepy was alive and could talk. And that’s when things got a little freaky—as in Roderick wanted to know why Sleepy hadn’t talked earlier, and Sleepy said he was too afraid of the freaky way Roderick stared at him. “That’s because you freak me out! I was only staring at you all freaky looking because you were staring at me all freaky looking,” Roderick explained. Freaky, huh?

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Image copyright Scott Campbell, 2018, text copyright, 2018. Courtesy of scottc.com.

Well, it turned out that Sleepy didn’t realize he was supposed to help Roderick get to sleep, and now he needed a little help in the form of a glass of water, a trip to the bathroom (accompanied), another trip to the bathroom to brush his teeth (accompanied), a story, another story, a closet check for witches (of a very particular kind), a snack, another teeth brushing (accompanied), the light off, the light on, and reassurance that Roderick wasn’t mad about…well, about all of the above.

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Image copyright Scott Campbell, 2018, text copyright, 2018. Courtesy of scottc.com.

Through gritted teeth, Roderick said, “I’m not mad.” With wary eyes, Sleepy said, “You sound mad. That sounds like you’re mad.” And it went back and forth: “I’m not mad…just a little tired. Okay, I’m a little mad, but mostly I’m tired.” “Well, I can’t sleep even if you’re a little mad.”“THEN I’M NOT MAD!” “I dunno. That still sounds mad.” Ai! Ai! Ai!

Sleepy then needed a blankie, a softer pillow, and an existential conversation. That’s when poor, exhausted Roderick lost it. “SLEEPY!!! It’s time for bed! Now go to sleep!” He ranted and vented until… “Roderick? Hey, Roderick?” “Zzzzzzzzzzzz.” Sleepy smiled. “Good night, buddy.”

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Image copyright Scott Campbell, 2018, text copyright, 2018. Courtesy of scottc.com.

Drew Daywalt’s histerical turn-about-is-fair-play bedtime romp is the perfect antidote to all those delaying tactics adults know so well. As the story’s set up transitions into Roderick and Sleepy’s comical conversation, readers (both kids and adults) will howl as the stakes escalate from a simple glass of water to a flood of frustration. Along the way, readers are treated to an eerily familiar litany of requests and retorts that will make them eager to turn the page to see what’s coming next.

Scott Campbell’s Roderick is a happy camper as he lounges comfortably with a glass of water well past bedtime while his parents rain down reasons he can’t have a pony. But his satisfied smile turns to skepticism when Sleepy arrives. Campbell hilariously captures the slightly unnerving gaze of stuffed animals before Sleepy “comes alive” and the “who me?” innocence of children afterward. Sleepy’s cheery obliviousness is a perfect foil for Roderick’s vexed, knowing look. The yin and yang of Roderick’s growing weariness and Sleepy’s antics will delight children and adults, and it’s safe to say that a happier sleep for both will ensue.

For a laugh-out-loud bedtime or story time read, don’t delay—add Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy to your bookshelf!

Ages 4 – 8 

Disney-Hyperion, 2018 |ISBN 978-1484789698

Discover more about Scott Campbell, his books, and his art on his website.

Read a New Book Month Activity

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Sleep Buddy Blanket

 

Even little buddies need a blanket sometimes to feel cozy and warm! With this craft you can make a blanket for a stuffed animal or fleecy bed for a pet! Children from ages 5 or 6 and up will enjoy helping to tie the tabs. For younger children, using fabric glue to attach the two pieces of fleece or cutting just one piece of fleece allows them to join in the craft fun.

Supplies

  • 2 pieces of fleece, solid, patterned, or a mix of both
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Fluff or pillow (optional for pet bed)
  • Fabric glue (optional)

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Directions

  1. Lay out one piece of fleece and measure a size that will make a comfortable blanket for the stuffed animal or is large enough for your pet to lie on
  2. Add 3 inches to that measurement on each side for the tie tabs
  3. Cut the fleece
  4. Lay out the second piece of fleece and cut it to the same size as the first piece
  5. With both pieces of fleece together cut three-inch long by ½ – ¾ – inch wide tabs all along each side. (If using fabric glue omit this step.)
  6. At the corners, four tabs will be cut off on each side

To Make a Blanket

  • Tie the top and bottom tabs together on all sides

To Make a Pet Bed

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  1. Tie the tabs together on three sides
  2. Add the fluff or pillow insert
  3. Tie the tabs on the final side

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You can find Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 11 – National Make Your Bed Day

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About the Holiday

The National Sleep Foundation sponsors this special day to recognize the importance of a good night’s sleep. Surprisingly, getting enough shut-eye may begin in the morning after you get up. By making your bed each morning, you create a tidy and inviting atmosphere that’s conducive to falling asleep quickly later in the day. In fact, your sleep environment makes a big difference in how you (or your kids) sleep at night. The right temperature, lighting, and mattress all play a factor. So, at least for today pull up those sheets and comforter. And donif you really like to just jump up and go, Don’t Make Your Bed day is coming on December 21st!

Time for Bed, Miyuki

Written by Roxane Marie Galliez | Illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh

 

“With a rain of gold” the sun sets for the night. All around the creatures of the forest are getting ready for bed. “The nightingale prepares her nest. Ants gather their provisions. And the toad jumps into a bucket.” But Miyuki is nowhere to be found. Of course, Miyuki is still playing and isn’t near ready for sleep. First, she tells her grandfather, she must “prepare for the arrival of the Dragonfly Queen” and her court. She asks Grandfather to help her build a canopy under the cherry tree, but when it is finished Miyuki says she must water her garden.

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Image copyright Seng Soun Ratanavanh, 2018, text copyright Roxane Marie Galliez, 2018. Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press.

Many trips back and forth from the well later, Miyuki is still not tired, but she is concerned with rounding up the Snail family and leading them home. After this slow procession, Grandfather says, “‘Miyuki, the canopy for the Queen is complete, your vegetable garden is watered, the snails are gathered. It’s time for bed.’” But there’s just one more thing to do, Miyuki tells him. It’s a cold night and the cat needs a blanket.

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Image copyright Seng Soun Ratanavanh, 2018, text copyright Roxane Marie Galliez, 2018. Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press.

With the cat covered, maybe one last dance “‘to thank the sun for shining so nicely’” will put Miyuki to sleep. Miyuki does yawn, but she just can’t go to bed without a bath and hair brushing. Finally, Miyuki is ready to be tucked in. As Grandfather kisses her on the forehead, Miyuki whispers that there’s just one more thing… “‘I know, Miyuki, I have not forgotten,’” Grandfather says. “‘I will tell you a story.’” And from a book springs a tale of a nightingale and her nest, ants gathering provisions, and a toad that sleeps in a bucket. Where is Miyuki this time? “I think Miyuki has fallen asleep.”

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Image copyright Seng Soun Ratanavanh, 2018, text copyright Roxane Marie Galliez, 2018. Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press.

With a dreamy, dozy lilt, poetic phrasing, and beautiful word choices, Roxane Marie Galliez tells a story of sleep delayed by a little girl with a fanciful imagination and her doting Grandfather. Steeped in the wonders of nature, Miyuki’s bedtime ritual celebrates her favorite creatures, her garden, her cat, and even the sun itself. Even her bath and best pajamas are not for her but for the stars when they visit. As each task is completed, Grandfather adds it to the list, in a repeated stanza that invites children to read along as it grows sequentially. The cyclical ideas of day and night, sleeping and waking, and even bedtime routines are sweetly reflected in Grandfather’s story that takes readers back to the beginning of the book.

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Image copyright Seng Soun Ratanavanh, 2018, text copyright Roxane Marie Galliez, 2018. Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press.

Seng Soun Ratanavanh plays with perspective, whimsical juxtopositions, and gorgeous colors, patterns, and textures in her inventive watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations. As small as the Dragonfly Queen, able to dance atop mushrooms, and tiny enough to fit in a flower pot or ride a kite, Miyuki and her grandfather navigate through the natural world as they complete Miyuki’s long list of pre-bedtime duties. With pencils as stilts, Miyuki helps herd the snails home, and sitting on the handle of the kitten’s basket she knits a cozy blanket. The image of Grandfather tucking Miyuki into a red shoe that sits on a tree stump surrounded by tall stems of tiny glowing flowers is exquisite. As Miyuki falls asleep readers see that her dreams are populated by her bountiful imagination.

A charming and elegant tale of imagination, Time for Bed, Miyuki would make a marvelous addition to home and classroom libraries for bedtime and quiet story times.

Ages 4 – 8

Princeton Architectural Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1616897055

Discover more about Roxane Marie Galliez and her books on her website

National Make Your Bed Day Activity

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Sleepy Time Word Search

 

Can you find the 15 sleep-related words in this printable, star-shaped Sleepy Time Word Search? Here’s the Solution!

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You can find Time for Bed, Miyuki at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

June 10 – National Children’s Day

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About the Holiday

On National Children’s Day, parents, grandparents, and other family members and caregivers are encouraged to spend the day with their children, celebrating each child’s unique qualities, listening to their children, and recommitting the family to core values of love and acceptance.  Spend the day doing an activity that is meaningful to your family. This can even be as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood—as in today’s book.

City Moon

Written by Rachael Cole | Illustrated by Blanca Gómez

 

A mother and child take advantage of fall’s early darkness to take a walk around their neighborhood. Cozy in pajamas and a coat, the little one is eager to leave home behind for a bit “to look for the moon.” When they get to the park, where people are out walking their dogs, they gaze into the sky, but the moon “is hiding. Where is it?”

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Image copyright Blanca Gómez, 2017, text copyright Rachael Cole, 2017. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Suddenly, they see it rising above the tall buildings. The child points and exclaims “Oh…there it is! The moon!” They watch it as people pass on their way home from work. As they continue on their way, the moon disappears. The child sees “glittery dots in the sky” and wonders if those are also moons. “‘Theyre stars,’ says Mama. Oh, stars.”

As they turn the corner around the fruit and vegetable stand, the moon appears again. But is it a different moon, the little one wonders. Mama explains that there is only one moon. “Oh, the same moon,” the child understands. At the crosswalk, the child sees the moon in a puddle. Could it have fallen in? Mama tells her curious child that it is the moon’s reflection. “Oh…a reflection.”

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Image copyright Blanca Gómez, 2017, text copyright Rachael Cole, 2017. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

They cross the street and the moon vanishes again. Here the street is busier, with people rushing home, busses and cars zooming by, and a fire engine wailing as it speeds along. They join the throng, keeping their eyes on the sky, but the moon is nowhere to be seen. Then, a little farther on, “there it is. Bright and light and round and glowing.” They “stop and look.”

The child is mesmerized by the moon, but “why doesn’t everyone look?” Mama says that they are busy. In the windows they can see people cooking dinner, reading, and playing. Others jog and stroll on the sidewalk, while still others ride bikes home after a long day. Mama bends down and whispers, “‘And it is also time for us to go to bed.’” They head home and once more see the moon, full and bright. 

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Image copyright Blanca Gómez, 2017, text copyright Rachael Cole, 2017. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

It plays hide-and-seek peeking out from its hiding place behind a cloud just as the little one becomes too sleepy to walk along. Mama carries her child home, to their stairs and the stoop. Inside they take off their coats and shoes, and the child is tucked into bed. The full moon shines through the window. “‘Can we keep the curtain open?’” the little one asks before falling asleep in the gentle glow of the natural nightlight.

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Image copyright Blanca Gómez, 2017, text copyright Rachael Cole, 2017. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Rachael Cole’s delightful evening stroll is the perfect antidote to a busy day. At once lyrical and perceptive, the story is told from the child’s point of view and tenderly reflects all the wonder and magic that children find in being outside at night. Young readers will revel in the precise observations and step-by-step chronicle of the mother and child’s walk. The playful game of hide-and-seek from page to page will enchant little ones. Cole’s lovely language also echoes the way children learn—by asking questions, repeating new words and ideas, and taking time to stop and see.

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Image copyright Blanca Gómez, 2017, text copyright Rachael Cole, 2017. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Blanca Gómez infuses City Moon with exquisite illustrations that are as genuine and nuanced as life itself. The rhythms and habits of diverse city life and depicted with meticulous care in stylish vignettes rendered in a sophisticated and textured palette. A variety of perspectives bring the post-working day hustle and bustle close while hinting at the quieter comfort to come. Readers—both children and adults—will love peeking in the windows to see what people are up to.  With so much to see and experience,

A warm hug that embraces family and neighborhood, City Moon gives readers so much to see and experience during leisurely bedtime or daytime story times. The story will also inspire families to take similar evening walks. City Moon is highly recommended as a wonderful  gift and a must for any child’s bookshelf or classroom library.

Ages 3 – 7

Schwartz & Wade, 2017 | ISBN 978-0553497076

Discover more about Rachael Cole, her books, and her work on her website.

To learn more about Blanca Gómez and her artwork, visit her website.

National Children’s Day Activity

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Gazing at the Moon Maze

 

The moon is super bright! Can you follow the sight line from the telescope to the moon to see it in this printable Gazing at the Moon Maze? Here’s the Solution.

June 8 – It’s National Best Friends Day

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate the best friend—or friends—in our life. Whether you’ve known your best friend forever or have recently formed a strong bond, you know you can always rely on them to be there for a laugh or a shoulder to cry on. To celebrate today’s holiday, get together with your best friend and do something fun, relive old memories, and make some new ones!

Scholastic sent me a copy of Sleepy Bird to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m also happy to be partnering with Scholastic in a giveaway of Sleepy Bird. See details below.

Sleepy Bird

By Jeremy Tankard

 

Night has fallen and it’s time to go to sleep, but Bird is not tired yet. “His wings wanted to glap. His legs wanted to run. All of him wanted to play.” In fact, Bird thought it was “party time!” He went off in search of Fox, who was just settling in. He was disturbed by all the noise Bird was making and offered a hug of blankie to help Bird get sleepy. But Bird just said, “‘Blankie shmankie.’”

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Copyright Jeremy Tankard, 2018, courtesy of Scholastic.

Next, Bird sought out Beaver and tried to interest him in a game of tag. Instead, Beaver said he’d read Bird a bedtime story. Bird thought bedtime and stories were for babies and ran to find Rabbit. When Rabbit handed Bird a stuffed cat to snuggle with, Bird was incensed. By the time Bird found Raccoon, he was getting a bit demanding. “‘Raccoon,’ said Bird, ‘you’ll play with me, right?’” But Raccoon was just about to sing a lullaby and go to sleep. Incredulous, Bird pointed out that Raccoon is nocturnal before he “flounced over to Sheep’s place.”

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Copyright Jeremy Tankard, 2018, courtesy of Scholastic.

When Sheep suggested counting sheep, Bird fumed that counting only one sheep would not make him sleepy. By this time, Bird was irritated, annoyed, and cross. He decided “he would just walk forever.” Pretty soon he plopped down on the grass and with tears in his eyes cried that he was not tired and would not go to sleep.

Bird’s cries reached his friends, who hurried over to help. While Beaver read a story, Fox and Rabbit tucked him in with a blanket and stuffed kitty. Then Raccoon sang and Sheep counted. Bird protested that he still wasn’t sleepy even as his eyes began to close. Birds’ friends were happy they could help him sleep. They lay down close by and were soon sleeping too. But what about Bird? His eyes popped open and he popped up, chirping and ready to play.

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Copyright Jeremy Tankard, 2018, courtesy of Scholastic.

Jeremy Tankard’s latest book in his Bird series hits hilariously home as Bird refuses to succumb to sleep, becoming crankier and crankier until he can’t keep his eyes open any longer. When Bird jumps up refreshed and ready to play again, kids will laugh and adults will smile at the truth of it all. Bird’s friends are true buddies, willing to put up with some pretty super-silly-ous attitude from their endearing little pal.

As in Tankard’s other Bird books, eye-popping, boldly colorful backgrounds set Bird and his friends in a magical forest habitat that highlights the thickly outlined characters. Bird, with his wide eyes, spindly legs, and eagerness to play, is adorable even—and maybe especially—as he admonishes his friends before beginning to droop himself. Little readers will love watching the rising crescent moon that illuminates this sleepless night as much as Bird’s bright and shiny personality.

A feather in any child’s picture book collection, Sleepy Bird is a must addition for readers who love the series and a terrific introduction to this little blue, spiky-coifed character that will have kids wanting to go back for more.

Ages 3 – 5

Scholastic, 2018 | ISBN 978-1338157857

To learn more about Jeremy Tankard, his books, and his art, visit his website.

You’ll never get tired of watching the Sleepy Bird book trailer!

Sleepy Bird Giveaway

I’m thrilled to partner with Scholastic in this giveaway of

  • One copy of Sleepy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, June 8 – 14. Already a follower? Thanks! Just  Retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on June 15.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Scholastic.

National Best Friends Day Activity

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Glass Stone Magnets or Picture Hanger

 

Creativity is meant to be shared! Here’s an easy craft that you can make for yourself or to give to your best friends whether they live close by or far away. You can use clip art, your own art, or other images of favorite characters, that remind you of inside jokes, or that represent shared experiences to make these magnets personal.

Supplies

  • To get you started, here are two printable Best Friends Templates! Template 1Template 2
  • Poster board
  • Large, 1 ½-inch clear glass stones (also called decorative fillers), available in craft stores
  • Markers or colored pencils OR find images online to print out
  • Medium to large circular flexible magnets, available in craft stores
  • Super glue 
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors

Directions

  • Place the glass stone on the poster board and trace around it
  • Draw your design in the circle on the poster board
  • Cut out the circle
  • With the toothpick, apply glue around the very edge of the design side of the circle
  • Attach the circle to the flat side of the stone, let dry
  • Trim the cardboard circle if needed
  • Attach the magnet to the back of the cardboard with glue

Picture Book Review

May 10 – Stay Up All Night Night and Interview with Author Jackie Azúa Kramer

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About the Holiday

Sure, everyone pulls all-nighters sometimes for work or school, and kids revel in pushing their bedtimes later and later. The founders of today’s holiday understand the lure of nighttime and present the perfect chance to stay up late and have some fun with friends and family. They also honor all of those people who work the night shift and encourage the rest of us to appreciate the sacrifices they make to keep hospitals, safety services, and other necessary businesses operating twenty-four hours a day. This worldwide celebration is sure to be a favorite with kids, so why not plan a sleepover or a family game night and enjoy the nightlife?!

If You Want to Fall Asleep

Written by Jackie Azúa Kramer | Illustrated by Lisa Brandenburg

 

No sooner had Mama Mouse tucked Little Mouse into bed, kissed him on the head, and closed the door then Little Mouse began jumping on the bed calling, “‘I can’t sleep.’” Mama had a little advice: “If you want to fall asleep and you’re jumping on your bed… / Read pages in a story. / Not one or two or three, / but the whole book, from cover to cover.” Imagining adventures will fill the time while you “wait for yawning.”

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Image copyright Lisa Brandenburg, 2018, text copyright Jackie Azúa Kramer, 2018. Courtesy of Clavis Books.

Pretty soon, Little Mouse interrupted Mama Mouse’s sweeping. He had read his favorite book and still wasn’t tired. Mama encouraged her little one to think about the pancakes and berries he’d have in the morning, and “wait for stretching.” In a bit, Mama Mouse heard Little Mouse “rocking and rolling in his bed.” She suggested, “If you want to fall asleep and you’re tossing and turning… / Snuggle up to things that are soft” and will remind you of friends and family, pets and toys.

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Image copyright Lisa Brandenburg, 2018, text copyright Jackie Azúa Kramer, 2018. Courtesy of Clavis Books.

But even though Little Mouse tried it, he was still wide awake. He slid down the banister right to where Mama was having tea. She had just the thing to make her child sleepy and told him to count the stars and “remember wishes: birthday wishes, secret wishes, dream wishes. And wait for dozing.” The house was quiet as Mama read her book, but then she heard her Little Mouse still awake.

Mama Mouse knew one more remedy that was sure to make Little Mouse comfy and cozy and ready for sleep. She knelt down and hugged Little Mouse and he hugged her with “a warm embrace forever.” Then, said Mama, “when your heart feels full of love, remember dreams to come: sweet dreams, good dreams, peaceful dreams.” Little Mouse didn’t have to “wait for yawning”…or stretching… or even dozing because he was fast asleep.

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Image copyright Lisa Brandenburg, 2018, text copyright Jackie Azúa Kramer, 2018. Courtesy of Clavis Books.

Jackie Azúa Kramer’s sweet bedtime story combines a twinkle of endearing mischief with the comfort of a lullaby to float little ones off to sleep and reassure them that they are always loved. As Little Mouse goes through the stages of sleeplessness—jumping on the bed, tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling, snuggling with toys, and frequent visits to mom in between—young readers will giggle with recognition. Mama Mouse’s suggestions of stories, treats, favorite loveys, and making wishes will make little ones cuddle up more closely, and her final solution of lots of hugs will spark plenty of real ones between adult and child. Kramer’s story line and realistic dialogue from Little Mouse flow nicely into the lilting rhythm of Mama’s poetic remedies. Both include repeated phrasing that children will enjoy reading along with.

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Lisa Brandenburg’s illustrations are as softly hued as a dream and include the kinds of details kids love lingering over. Little Mouse’s vivid imagination is fully evident as, from under the covers, he peeks with one eye at his toys beckoning for a little more playtime. These toys continue their nighttime capers, spilling out from Little Mouse’s room every time he gets up to join him in frolicking, hiding, and ultimately helping Mama put her sleepy one to bed. Throughout, Brandenburg includes visual humor and puns that kids and adults will enjoy. Readers will love keeping track of Little Mouse’s beloved kitty, and be ready to snooze with the whole crew (except Little Mouse?!) as they happily doze on the final page.

Rest assured, If You Want to Fall Asleep is a dreamy bedtime story that kids will want to hear again and again. It would be a star on any child’s bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 6

Clavis Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1605373959

Discover more about Jackie Azúa Kramer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Lisa Brandenburg, her art, and her books, visit her website.

Meet Jackie Azúa Kramer

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Today, I have the pleasure of talking with author Jackie Azúa Kramer about her love of travel, little piggies, and, of course, getting kids to sleep.

What inspired you to write If You Want to Fall Asleep?

This weekend is Mother’s Day! So, I wish all the Mamas out there a very Happy Mother’s Day! When you meet Mama Mouse in my story, and her child Little Mouse, I am sharing a small window into my world as a young mom. After many sleep-deprived nights with my kids, I discovered there’s no one way, no one method, to get your over-tired, yet filled-with-imaginative-excuses, little one to bed. It seemed the moment I was high-fiving and declaring, “I got this!” was when it all changed. My kids behaved about bedtime as if sleep was a test like in The Princess and the Pea. I wanted to capture the crazy moments that make you wonder why you chose to be a mom while at the same time wish this time wasn’t so fleeting. Mama Mouse is every mother who loves her child.

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What was your favorite way to get to sleep as a child?

I don’t know why, but I needed to create the feeling of being in a burrow or cave. So, I would pull the blanket way over my head and disappear under the covers. I still do that sometimes. Blushing.

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On your website you have a picture of your writing space. Could you describe it a little and talk about your collection of piggies?

My piggies!!! Years ago, when I was in college, a friend gave me a small, blown-glass pig. I was enchanted by its delicacy and size. Like ‘Tennessee Williams’ I began collecting my own “glass menagerie.” The collection has grown and now includes pigs made of ceramic, clay, wood, pewter, silver, plastic, and even candy.

Wherever I travel, I always try and find a pig that reflects the culture. For example, I have two ceramic pigs from Italy that remind me of the farms I saw in the countryside. The best thing about the collection is that some are gifts from family and friends. Each pig has its own story loaded with good memories!

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You also have a snapshot of you and a young girl you met while volunteering. Can you talk about your volunteering efforts around the world? How did you get started? Do you have an anecdote you’d like to share? Has volunteering influenced your writing?

I’ve travelled around the world most of my life. Meeting new people, new vistas, history, and culture is my true heart’s desire. Volunteering took travel to another level. Unfortunately, I’ve only had the opportunity to volunteer once in Israel and Ecuador.

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My father was born in Ecuador, and I had visited as a young girl, but I always knew I wanted to return. I can still hear the laughter of the young Quechua woman living in the remote village near a dormant volcano. Her smile came so easily and naturally, all the while knowing that the little she had (by American standards), came from very hard work, patience, and a good attitude. I’m not sure what she learned from me, if anything, but I’m certainly grateful and honored to have spent time in her beautiful country.

What’s the best part of being a children’s author?

There’s much to love! The practice and process of writing. Seeing your ideas develop into a story then become a book and go out into the universe. The generous people that I’ve met in the kidlit world and had the pleasure to work with—editors and illustrators.

The passionate librarians and teachers who invite me into their classrooms. Each time I hope it’s a reciprocal experience—that the students and I may learn something about each other’s world experience.

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Number one on the love hit-parade are the readers that share how my story touched or inspired them or made them feel or think. Perhaps my story inspired them to write or draw their own story. It’s crazy to think, but all it takes is one person, one story to make a difference in a child’s life.

What’s up next for you?

I’m so excited about my next two picture books which share the same super-cute, super-spunky, and super-fun protagonist, Prunella or Pru. The reader is introduced to Prunella in That’s for Babies (Clavis, 2018), and in Miles Won’t Smile (Clavis, 2019) we meet her new baby brother, Miles. I feel names in stories are important; Prunella’s name reflects how properly silly and human she is. In addition, I’m thrilled to work again with illustrator Lisa Brandenburg.

The Boy and the 800 Pound Gorilla (Candlewick Press, 2020) is a story near and dear to my heart. A picture book about a boy, his father, and loss. As I mentioned earlier, one of the joys of what I do is working with illustrators. I can’t wait to discover other layers revealed in my story by illustrator, Cindy Derby. Here’s one of Cindy’s stunning illustrations (not for the book).

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What is your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving! Food, family and fun! There’s a little Martha Stewart in me. I love pulling out all my favorite recipes, buying the freshest and best ingredients and setting a beautiful table. Full and happy bellies lead to (hopefully) good times. My kitchen table before the cooking gets started!

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Thanks so much for chatting, Jackie! I wish you all the best with If You Fall Asleep and all of your books!

You can connect with Jackie Azúa Kramer on

Her Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Stay Up All Night Night Activity

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Dream Catcher

 

Even if you can’t sleep, you can still dream! With this easy-to-make dream catcher, kids can keep their dreams until they all come true!

Supplies

  • Small wooden or plastic embroidery hoop
  • Colorful rubber bands or hair bands
  • Yarn or string
  • Three medium plastic or wooden beads
  • Three smaller plastic or wooden beads or perler beads
  • Two feathers

Directions

  1. Separate the embroidery hoop sections
  2. Stretch different colored rubber bands around the smaller hoop
  3. If the larger hoop has a screw on it, put it back on and tighten the screw
  4. Measure a length of yarn or string and slip it between the screw and hoop
  5. Making one side longer than the other, tie a knot to secure it to the screw
  6. If the embroidery hoop has no screw, lay two or three differing lengths of yarn or string between the two sections of the hoop before you put the top on
  7. String on beads and tie a knot to secure them
  8. Add feathers
  9. Tie a string or yarn to the top of the dream catcher to hang it.

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You can find If You Want to Fall Asleep at these booksellers

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

Picture book review