March 20 – It’s the Spring Equinox

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About the Holiday

Today, we celebrate the first day of spring! What makes the equinox so special? On this date, day and night are equally long around the globe. With longer days and warmer weather, thoughts turn to nature and renewal. For many this means gardening for ourselves and for the returning bees and butterflies. Today’s book takes a look at one of nature’s most inspiring creatures – the monarch butterfly. 

When Spring Comes

Written by Kevin Henkes | Illustrated by Laura Dronzek

 

This beautiful tribute to spring is as surprising as new buds pushing through the earth or tiny hatching eggs. Using repeated phrasing, lyrically expressed facts, and poetic rhythms, When Spring Comes echoes the anticipation that sunnier days bring after a long winter. The book opens with a simple, evocative sentence: “Before Spring comes the trees look like black sticks against the sky.” Children will immediately agree—they see trees in this way out their windows and draw them like this in art class.

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Image copyright Laura Dronzek, 2019, text copyright Kevin Henkes, 2019. Courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

The following sentence is equally as true: “But if you wait Spring will bring leaves and blossoms.” The book’s contrasting lines that explore conditions “before Spring comes” and “If you wait” gradually reveal more and more of springtime’s wonder, like the melting snows that usher in rainy days: “Spring comes with sun and it comes with rain and more rain and more rain. Do you like mud? Do you like puddles? I hope you like umbrellas.”

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Image copyright Laura Dronzek, 2019, text copyright Kevin Henkes, 2019. Courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

As Spring wakes more fully, it takes on a personality of its own: “Spring will call out the pussy willows and new kittens too. Spring can come quickly or slowly. It changes its mind a lot. But when Spring is finally here to stay, you will know it…There will be buds and bees and boots and bubbles.”  And there is much more to discover about this season of rebirth as well as the future within these pages.

When Spring visits it brings many wonderful smells, sounds, activities, and creatures, all of which are gorgeously depicted in Laura Dronzek’s radiant illustrations. The early gardens, blooming cherry trees, frolicking kittens, and profusions of flowers are as bright and welcome as the springtime sun. As the sweet-faced boy and girl in the book play, they are surrounded by birds, bunnies, dogs and kittens, and even ponder a little worm poking its head from the garden. Brilliant blues, pinks, greens meld with lush browns to create a joyful celebration of the newness of the season.

When Spring Comes is not only a book about a particular season or even for a particular age. The book is a wonderfully gentile and uplifting way to introduce or discuss the idea of waiting for good things to happen. Everyone, even the smallest child, has “winter days” when life doesn’t look so bright. But if you wait, spring comes with new life and surprises. 

Ages 4 – 8

Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062331397 (Hardcover, 2016) | ISBN 978-0062741677 (Paperback, 2019) | ISBN 978-0062741660 (Board Book, 2018)

Discover more about Kevin Henkes and his books on his website.

Spring Equinox Activity

CPB - Paper Flowers

Paper Flowers

 

These paper flowers will brighten any room and come in a rainbow of colors. Make a bouquet for yourself or share them with a special friend.

Supplies

  • Tissue paper in many colors
  • Green paper
  • Green wire for stems
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • Pliers

CPB - Paper Flowers II

Directions

To make the stem

  1. Bend a 1 ½ -inch loop in the top of the wire
  2. Squeeze the wire together so it will fit tightly over the tissue paper

To make a flower

  1. Cut 6 or more 7-inch squares from tissue paper, mixing colors (you can make various sizes of flowers by making the squares larger or smaller and adding more squares)
  2. Gather all the squares together and fold them together accordion-style in 1-inch folds
  3. Slide the folded tissue paper under the wire loop, and tighten the wire
  4. Gently fan the tissue paper out on each side
  5. Beginning on one side, gently pull each sheet of tissue paper up toward the center
  6. Repeat step 5 on the other side

To make leaves

  1. Cut leaves from green paper, leaving a stem to wrap around the wire flower stem
  2. Fold the leaf stem around the wire and tape or glue

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You can find When Spring Comes at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

April 29 – It’s National Month of Hope

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About the Holiday

Founded in 1991, National Month of Hope encourages people to bring hope to those in need both emotionally and physically. Reaching out to let a friend know you’re there for them, volunteering to help out in the community or on a personal level, and simply sharing a smile with those around you are all ways to show others you care. These days, staying in touch online and checking up on family and friends spreads happiness and hope for when we can all be together again. 

Little Mole Finds Hope

Written by Glenys Nellist | Illustrated by Sally Garland

 

Little Mole felt sad. He didn’t know why he felt bad inside, he just did. His mama told him he needed to find hope. Little Mole wondered where. As she took his paw, Mama said, “‘Sometimes, hope is hiding in the darkness. Sometimes it’s hard to see. But it’s always there.'” Mama led her son out of the tunnel, but on the way she pointed out a “brown, wrinkled” bulb hanging from the ceiling. Little Mole thought it was dead.

But Mama explained that that bulb would someday soon become a lovely daffodil. She asked her son to picture it swaying with the breeze, and when he said he could see it, she told him “That is hope.'” When they crawled out of the burrow, Little Mole saw trees without leaves. “They stretched out like skeleton bones silhouetted against the sky.” Little Mole thought they were dead. But Mama explained that buds and then leaves would soon appear. She asked Little Mole to imagine it. With excitement he told her he could see it. Again, Mama said, “‘That is hope.'”

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Image copyright Sally Garland, 2020, text copyright Glenys Nellist, 2020. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Mama and her little one continued on past Mr. Rabbit’s garden, where they saw another example of hope hiding in an unexpected place. When they got home, Little Mole was happy.He said he’d had a wonderful day and understood that “there was always hope, even in the darkest places.” Mama tucked her son into bed with a kiss, and Little Mole fell asleep dreaming of the colorful spring to come.

Back matter includes a Discussion Guide for Caretakers that gives them tools for talking about the story, tips on helping a child who feels sad, and how to share their own experiences and where hope can be found.

Glenys Nellist’s uplifting story could not have come at a better time. With children at home and their normal lives disrupted, many may be feeling sad and unusually stressed. While many things have changed, there are still those aspects of life that remain constant. A parent or caregiver’s love is one; signs of spring and summer are another. Nellist’s honest and straightforward storytelling, acknowledges feelings of sadness and the fact that they are often unattributable to any concrete cause. Mama’s gentle acceptance of her son’s emotions and her actions in showing him signs of renewal will resonate with children familiar with the cycles of winter and spring and give adults models for conversations with their own children. Perfectly paced, Nellist’s book provides opportunities for adults and kids to look for other constants in their lives and to reaffirm their love for one another––now and always.

Sally Garland’s textured illustrations, rendered in warm tones that reveal the coziness of the Mole’s home and vibrant, sunny colors as Little Mole imagines springtime, will delight children and draw them into the meaning of the story. As Mama clearly points out the bulb, the bare trees, and a sleepy chrysalis, children will enjoy guessing what each will become and how they represent hope. Readers will also like finding other symbols of hope and signs of Mama’s and Little Mole’s love throughout the story.

Lovely in every way and highly recommended for talking with children about their feelings, Little Mole Finds Hope is a book kids will enjoy for its storytelling and its heart again and again.

Ages 3 – 6

Beaming Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1506448749

Discover more about Glenys Nellist and her books on her website.

You can learn more about Sally Garland, her books, and her art here.

Month of Hope Activity

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Little Mole Finds Hope Activity Pack

 

You can find lots of fun in this printable activity pack found on the Beaming Books website.

Little Mole Finds Hope Activity Pack

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You can find Little Mole Finds Hope at these booksellers

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

 

March 26 – It’s National Optimism Month

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About the Holiday

With its longer days, warmer weather, and blossoming flowers and trees, springtime puts us in a brighter frame of mind. There’s inherent optimism in seeing birds build nests and hearing the cheeps of baby birds, in shedding the coats and boots that weigh us down, and even in looking forward to summer vacation. Little ones love exploring during spring, just like Sammy in today’s book!

Sammy in the Spring

By Anita Bijsterbosch

 

Sammy watches out his window as the birds sing and feed their babies. Sammy wants to play outside and asks his stuffed horse Hobs to come with him. He puts on his socks and shoes then grabs his bike and puts Hobs in the basket. “Sammy likes riding on his bicycle. The flowers smell so good! He can see yellow, white, and pink flowers.”

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Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl.

After his bike ride, Sammy jumps on his scooter and fits Hobs into the basket on the front. They tow a little car behind them. Squirrels scamper in the trees, a family of bunnies peeks through the grass, and butterflies flutter in the air. One even lands on Hobs’ nose! Behind a bush, Sammy spies some sleeping hedgehogs. But the time for hibernating is over. “‘Hey, hedgehogs, wake up! Spring has come,’ Sammy whispers.”

When the hedgehogs wake up, they keep Hobs company while Sammy plays with his car. Then it’s time to drive the tractor and tend the garden. They meet three woolly lambs. “How sweet they are! ‘Baaa, baaa,’ the little lambs bleat.” Next Sammy digs holes in the ground and plants carrot, strawberry, radish, and cucumber seedlings. After all that playing and hard work, Sammy and Hobs go back inside to wash up and have a nice dinner together.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sammy-in-the-spring-lambs

Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl.

Little ones will be happy to spend time with Sammy and Hobs as they enjoy a spring day together in Anita Bijsterbosch’s adorably inviting story. The imaginative relationship that toddlers and young children have with their favorite toys is charmingly reflected here as Sammy includes Hobs on his bike, scooter, and tractor rides, shows him the lambs and hedgehogs, and gives him his own apple to eat at dinnertime. Bijsterbosch’s language is bright and cheery and paced with the same eager excitement of children playing and exploring.

Bijsterbosch’s bold images and brilliant colors are beautifully displayed in this large board book that cleverly uses full and half pages to show transitions in the action. Smiles abound as Sammy and Hobs meet birds, hedgehogs, lambs, bunnies, and even a tiny pink worm. Young readers are sure to smile too.

A joyful book that little ones will want to hear again and again, Sammy in the Spring would make a great take-along for picnics and other outdoor activities and a sweet addition to home and preschool libraries.

Learn more about Anita Bisterbosch, her books, and her art on her website.

Ages 2 – 5

Clavis, 2018 | ISBN 978-1605373676

National Optimism Day Activity

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Sunny Daisy Craft

 

This cheery springtime flower is easy for little ones to make with some adult help and can brighten any room!

Supplies

  • Small paper plate
  • Green straw
  • Yellow paint
  • Green paper
  • Tape
  • Small flower pot (optional)

Directions

  1. Paint a circle in the center of the plate, let dry.
  2. Make petals by cutting around the plate about every 1 ½ inches angled toward the center
  3. Fold some petals forward and some back to give the flower dimension
  4. Cut leaves from the green paper
  5. Tape the straw to the back of the plate
  6. Display your flower!

Picture Book Review