National 17 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of Ten Rules to Flying Like a Superhero

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About the Holiday

What better time to celebrate the launch of a new book than during National Picture Book Month?! A sequel to a favorite book is always something to eagerly look forward to, so I’m excited today to be featuring Deb Pilutti’s companion book to her acclaimed Ten Rules for Being a Superhero.  With these two clever books in hand, there’s no telling how high or how far a child can soar.

Ten Steps to Flying Like a Superhero

By Deb Pilutti

 

With his yellow suit, red cape, and red eye mask, Lava Boy and his toy sidekick Captain Magma are saving the earth (well, at least Lava Boy’s bedroom-floor town) from marauding dinosaurs by day. By night Captain Magma is proving his superstrength by hoisting the bar of soap above his head and out of the whittling tub water and using his flashlight “lava vision” to rescue a lost elephant from under the bed. At all times Captain Magma “and his friendly personality has won over even the most evil of the supervillains.”

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Image copyright Deb Pilutti, 2020, courtesy of Henry Holt & Company.

But while he’s sleeping, Captain Magma still dreams of the one time a bird picked him up and took him on an amazing journey of flight. He longs to repeat this feat, not only because it was fun but because Lave Boy has been fascinated by a new superhero, Meteor Shower, who can fly for real. Captain Magma thinks that with a plan and his smart sidekick Lava Boy’s help, he can learn to fly too.

First they lay out the steps they need to take and then with all the necessary materials (especially plenty of glitter), they get to work. They pay particular attention to Step 3 (even though Captain Magma feels a little ridiculous) and Step 4, which will bolster their chances of success. Then it’s time to launch—but not on some rickety tower of toys. Lava Boy takes Captain Magma to the stable railing of their tree house and… after the good advice at Step 6, he’s ready to “FLY!”

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Image copyright Deb Pilutti, 2020, courtesy of Henry Holt & Company.

But what is that straight ahead? Captain Magma flaps his arms as hard as he can, but lands head first in a bird’s nest. “I should have learned to turn,” he tells the birds, who gaze at their uninvited guest curiously. Fortunately, Lava Boy was a very smart sidekick and had “prepared for anything.” Except… can you prepare for everything? That’s where a new friend (like Meteor Shower and her sidekick Star Girl) can come to the rescue and make trying again even more fun.

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Image copyright Deb Pilutti, 2020, courtesy of Henry Holt & Company.

With humor and imagination, Deb Pilutti outlines terrific advice on how children can achieve their goals and soar. Her straightforward steps, which can apply to any situation, are charmingly paired with specifics for helping Captain Magma fly and always-useful reminders—like never “skimp on the glitter.”

Kids will appreciate Lava Boy’s toy-strewn floor, where action, peril, animals, and people on the go (except one lone figure trapped in a laundry-basket prison) will capture their imagination as much as it does Lava Boy’s. Captain Magma offers up lots of funny looks and asides (appropriately expressed in sunny yellow speech bubbles) that kids will recognize and empathize with. Hints to Lava Boy and Captain Magma’s new like-minded friends and can be glimpsed early in the story through Lava Boy’s window and while he’s out playing with his toys.

A super way to teach kids steps that lead to success wrapped in an exuberant story, Ten Steps to Flying like a Superhero would be a favorite for story times as well as times when encouragement is needed. The book would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves and a go-to story for classroom and public library collections.

Ages 5 – 9

Henry Holt & Company, 2020 | ISBN 978-1627796507

Discover more about Deb Pilutti, her books, and her art on her website.

Picture Book Month Activity

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Reading is Super! Maze

 

A super reader wants to bring books to his friends so they can all read together. Can you help him get through this printable Reading is Super Maze to reach his friends?

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You can find Ten Steps to Flying Like a Superhero at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

September 12 – National Day of Encouragement

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was conceived by the Encouragement Foundation at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas as a day to prompt people to perform deliberate acts of encouragement to cheer and inspire others. On September 12, 2007 Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed a proclamation for a “State Day of Encouragement.” President George W. Bush later established September 12 a National Day of Encouragement. To celebrate, say a kind word, mail a card, make a call, or send a text to anyone who needs a little more encouragement to complete a goal, deal with a problem, or just to have a good day.

Hanukkah Hamster

Written by Michelle Markel | Illustrated by André Ceolin

 

The city was decorated with twinkling lights for the holidays, and busy shoppers bustled in and out of stores, delivered there by Edgar and his cab. After one shift, Edgar was so tired he took a nap in the back seat. He was awakened when “Ohhhf! Something scrambled onto his chest. Ayyee! Something hairy brushed his face.” Edgar opened one eye to see… a hamster! He picked it up and gazed at its tiny eyes and ears and feet.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Edgar wondered which of his many customers may have lost the little hamster as he called in to the cab company’s lost and found department. Edgar took the little hamster home and shredded some paper to make him a bed. Then he went to his menorah, said the Hanukkah blessing, and lit two candles. All the next day as he drove people in his cab, Edgar wondered if someone had claimed the hamster, but no one did.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

That night after lighting three candles, Edgar made a chopped salad dinner for himself and a tiny one for the hamster. As he watched the little animal nibble on a chickpea, Edgar asked, “‘Okay if I call you Chickpea?’” No one had claimed Chickpea the next day either, so Edgar went to the pet store and bought hamster food. At home, he lit four candles and gave Chickpea some food. As Chickpea ate, “Edgar took pictures on his phone and shared them with his family in Israel.”

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

On the fifth night of Hanukkah, Edgar made Chickpea “a slide out of a cardboard tube. Chickpea whooshed down. Wheeee! His nose twitched.” As the week of Hanukkah went on, Edgar was fearful that someone might call about their missing hamster. He spent the evenings telling Chickpea about Tel Aviv until the little one fell asleep.

The next day, Edgar took a customer to a neighborhood on the edge of town. There he saw a woman who looked familiar. With her was her son. “Edgar felt a punch in his heart.” But he rolled down the window and asked the boy if he’d lost a hamster. The woman answered that she had bought the hamster for her classroom and thought he had escaped at home. “Edgar showed them pictures on his phone” of Chickpea eating salad, sliding through the tube and drifting off to sleep.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

When the woman saw Edgar’s menorah in one of the pictures, Edgar told them how he and Chickpea were celebrating Hanukkah together since the rest of his family lived in Israel. When Edgar began to tell them that he could return the hamster tomorrow morning, “the boy touched his mother’s arm, and the two of them exchanged glances.” The woman told Edgar that she thought Chickpea belonged with him. Then she wished him a wonderful holiday. That night, “Edgar said the blessing and lit all the candles on the menorah.” Then, while he enjoyed a doughnut, Chickpea ran and ran on his new wheel.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Immersed in the special yearning for family and togetherness the holidays bring, Michelle Markel’s touching story glows with kindness and empathy. The growing friendship between Edgar and Chickpea will tug at readers’ hearts just as it does for Edgar, who so hopes to keep the little hamster but also knows there may be someone in the city missing him. As the days pass, and Edgar, alone for Hanukkah, shares his traditions with the hamster, readers also become participants in the holiday. Children will be riveted to the increasing suspense, and the pitch-perfect solution is joyful and satisfying. Realistic dialogue and honestly portrayed emotions provides depth to this moving story.

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From the tiny white lights lining main street to the first glimpse of the little hamster to Edgar’s cozy apartment with his menorah in the window, André Ceolin’s richly colored illustrations invite readers into Edgar’s life with his new friend, Chickpea. Chickpea is adorable as it nibbles on salad, poses for pictures, and curls up in its shredded paper bed. Images of Edgar lighting the menorah are luminous, and the Edgar and Chickpea’s smiles will spark happiness in readers’ hearts.

The portrayals of friendship, generosity, empathy, and family make Hanukkah Hamster a poignant story for all children to share not only at the holidays but all year around. The book would make a wonderful gift and much loved addition to home and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585363995

Discover more about Michelle Markel and her books on her website.

To learn more about André Ceolin, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Day of Encouragement Activity

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Random Acts of Encouragement Cards to Share

 

Today’s a day to spread a little encouragement to friends, neighbors, teachers, and anyone who looks as if they could use some cheering up.

Random Acts of Encouragement Cards 1Random Acts of Encouragement Cards 2

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You can find Hanukkah Hamster at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review