August 25 – It’s National Water Quality Month

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About the Holiday

The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, and the years from 2005 to 2015 were declared an International Decade for Action: Water is Life by the United Nations to focus on the necessity of clean water around the world. Today, the work continues. The importance of clean water cannot be understated. The quality of life and the survival of all ecosystems depends on the availability of good quality water. The fact that the water systems and the water cycle are intrinsically linked not only to bodies of water but to what occurs on land, makes it critical that we treat all parts of the environment with care. Runoff from businesses, industries, and homes can quickly pollute local and remote water system. National Water Quality Month encourages people to be mindful of the amount of water and the household products they use, and it advocates for responsible and environmentally protective policies on the part of industry and governments. To honor this month’s holiday, learn more about what you can do to protect the world’s water supply.

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Written by Miranda Paul | Illustrated by Jason Chin

 

On a soaking rainy day a sister and brother run up to the house with a turtle they’ve caught in the pond out back. They drink glasses of water and offer a bowlful for the turtle too. “Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup.” Out on the porch Dad is ready with warm mugs of hot chocolate. The ghostly steam tickles their noses. “Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless…it cools high.” As the kids return the turtle to the pond they watch a dragon and an eagle play across the sky. “Clouds are clouds unless…they form low.”

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Image copyright Jason Chin, text copyright Miranda Paul. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Through the misty fog the school bus rumbles up the hill as a little garter snake wriggles in the fallen leaves at the end of the children’s driveway. By the time the bus drops the kids off at school the fog has turned to rain. It plinks on the sidewalks and pounds the earth, creating puddles just in time for recess. “Slosh in galoshes. Splash to your knees! Puddles are puddles unless…puddles freeze.”

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Image copyright Jason Chin, text copyright Miranda Paul. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

The turtle is hiding now that winter’s come, and a group of friends slip and speed across the pond, some playing hockey, some figure skating, and a couple just learning the ropes. Then suddenly it’s snowing! A brilliant red cardinal watches from the birdfeeder as three sneaky kids with snowballs spy on their friends who are building a snowman. With a “smack!” the snowball fight begins. Soon, however, spring is back with rushing streams and “Creep. Seep. Squish in your boots” mud. And that “mud is mud unless…there are roots.”

The apple trees in the backyard soak up the spring rains that feed the red, plump apples that are apples “unless…they get pressed. Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Cider is cider…until we drink it up!”

More information about water, including illustrated definitions of water-related terms, percentages of water in a variety of plants and creatures, and its importance to the world as well as suggestions for further reading, follow the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-water-is-water-making cider

Image copyright Jason Chin, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Miranda Paul’s lyrical journey through a year of our interactions with water is a beautiful reminder of all the forms water takes. From life-filled ponds to pouring rains to glasses of refreshment, water sustains every creature and plant on earth. Paul’s transitional “unless…” elegantly introduces each transformation in the natural water cycle in a way that children recognize and appreciate. Her rich rhyming and rhythmical language is a joy to read and makes Water an active character in the story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-water-is-water-drinking-cider

Image copyright Jason Chin, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Jason Chin’s superb artwork is as lush and dynamic as the world around us. Each two-page spread is a masterpiece of atmosphere and details that bring not only water’s cycle to life but also that of the children, growing and playing in and around water throughout the year. As the children shelter from the rain at the beginning of the book, a bushel of apples sits snug against the cider press in the corner of the porch foreshadowing the final pages where fresh cider fuels summer fun. Chin’s children are real kids—joyful and playful, enthusiastically and humorously interacting with nature and each other with the kind of abandon that makes hearts sing. Young readers and adults will love lingering over each page.

Water is Water: A Story of the Water Cycle is the kind of book that can get kids excited about one of the quieter aspects of science—but one that is so important to our daily lives. It would make a wonderful accompaniment to elementary school lesson plans and a gorgeous addition to library and home bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 10

Roaring Brook Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1596439849

Discover more about Miranda Paul and her books plus resources for teachers and writers on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork by Jason Chin and learn more about him and his books on his website!

National Water Quality Month Activity

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A Sprinkling of Water Words Word Search

 

This tree grew tall and strong by soaking up water through its roots. Can you find the 20 water-related words that are hidden inside this printable tree-shaped A Sprinkling of Water Word Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution.

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You can find Water is Water: A Book about the Water Cycle at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 15 – National Tell a Joke Day

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About the Holiday

Is there anything better than a big belly laugh? Hearing or seeing something that tickles your funny bone can be one of the best parts of a day. Did you know that the first recorded joke dates back to 1900 BC? It seems those early Sumerians were a pretty rowdy bunch. And not only them, humor has been a part of every culture from their earliest days. And why not? Laughter makes us feel better psychologically and even has the power to heal. Celebrate today by sharing your favorite jokes!

Knock Knock

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Guy Francis

 

Bear’s eyes are droopy, and he’s all tucked in under his puffy quilt. With his teddy bear clasped in his hand, he’s just about to turn out the light when: “KNOCK KNOCK.” Dutifully, Bear rouses himself and goes to answer it. “Who’s there?” he says. The answer comes back: “Justin.” “Justin who?” Bear opens the door and Fox rushes in with an armload of firewood. “Justin the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by!”

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Image copyright Guy Francis, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Fox is just piling the logs in the fireplace when there’s another “KNOCK KNOCK” at the door. Startled, Bear asks the requisite question and learns that Ken has also come calling. But as soon as the door is opened a crack, three wisecracking blue jays fly in carrying streamers. While Fox seems happy to see them, Bear is not so keen.

A moment later another “KNOCK KNOCK” brings one more visitor, who’s lugging a huge pot of stew in his two oven-mitted paws. Bear can hardly keep his eyes open, but when he hears a raucous “KNOCK KNOCK,” he can’t help but ask yet again, “Who’s there?” It’s “Olive.” “Olive who?” The door bursts open to a chorus of “Olive us!” Waiting to enter is a whole gang of friends who are carrying balloons, hot chocolate, cupcakes, and even some knitting. But there’s still room for more, and another “KNOCK KNOCK” brings a “Good grief” from Bear and a familiar face at the window with a playful take on an old wolfish ultimatum.

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Image copyright Guy Francis, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic Press.

The party’s going full swing, but all Bear can do is “yawwwwnnn” from the comfort of his armchair and remind his guests that he really needs some…. “KNOCK KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK.” “WHO’S THERE?” Bear roars. He swings the door wide and finds Al, who has a very special message for this very special party given just for Bear. Then the animals tuck Bear in tight, whisper sweet goodnights, and leave him to his winter slumber. And when he wakes up? Harry is ready to play! KNOCK KNOCK!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-knock-knock-Fox

Image copyright Guy Francis, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Tammi Sauer’s clever story told through knock-knock jokes will have young readers rolling with laughter as poor bear grows wearier and wearier but continues to answer the KNOCK KNOCK summons. Each knock-knock joke ingeniously moves the story along while introducing a crew of Bear’s friends, who, it turns out, has planned a special send-off for their pal’s hibernation. Kids will love chiming in on the famous line the big bad wolf used on the three little pigs and noticing that the little chipmunk is reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears to tuck his friend in. Over- tired Bear’s tirade quickly melts into a warm embrace for all his friends when he realizes why they’ve come. The revelation of Bear’s name when springtime rolls around offers one more laugh at the end of the story and allows Bear to get in on the fun.

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With each knock on the door, Guy Francis ramps up the hilarity as Bear reacts with startled, wide-eyed surprise to each guest, who enters with a twinkle of sly acknowledgment of his or her joke. The animals seem right at home as they build a fire in the fireplace, cook on the stove, decorate the living room—and even Bear himself. Kids will laugh out loud at Bear’s flustered expressions and his cavernous yawn as the party preparations continue around him. When Bear is finally ready to put his big paw down, only to realize that all the commotion is really for him, his toothy grin says it all. The sweet looks and big hugs all around as well as a brand-new, comfy quilt float Bear off to dreamland for the winter. When spring comes, a refreshed Harry, looking not quite so grizzled comes knocking on the woodland animals’ Hobbit-style homes to repay the visit.

Knock Knock will knock kids’ socks off, and you can bet the book will go into much-loved rotation and begin a love of this funny joke form. The book would make a terrific gift and addition to home bookshelves as well as a lighthearted choice for funny classroom story times.

Ages 3 – 6

Scholastic Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1338116946

Discover more about Tammi Sauer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Guy Francis, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Tell a Joke Day Activity

Fox_in_Suit

Animated Animals Coloring Pages

 

These animals have heard some funny jokes, but they need a bit of color! Grab your crayons, markers, or pencils and have fun!

Happy Hedgehog | Laughing Fox | Smiling Sheep

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You can find Knock Knock at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

March 21 – International Day of Forests

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About the Holiday

International Day of Forests was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 to raise awareness of the importance of trees in vast woodlands or in your neighborhood or yard. Trees contribute to the quality of the air we breathe, improve the local climate, reduce noise pollution, shelter wildlife, and provide food for people and animals. This year’s theme is Forests and Sustainable Cities and aims to promote the integration of trees and vegetation within urban and surrounding areas. The benefits are many, from encouraging health lifestyles to providing fresh water to flood prevention to beautification. Clever architecture and infrastructure can create cities and towns that are healthy and happy to live in! For more information visit the UN International Day of Forests website.

Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book

By Britta Teckentrup

 

In the midst of winter, the tree stands bare of leaves. Tucked away in a hole “Owl sits watching in his tree / No one sees as much as he.” He watches as the snow melts and young flowers, grass, and plants begin sprouting. Then bear cubs leave their hibernation and climb the tree where Owl sits.

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Copyright Britta Teckentrup, 2016, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Young leaves and colorful blossoms cover the tree and flutter in the breeze as a spider spins her web and more baby animals come to frolic. In the branches, “squirrels scamper here and there. / Playful fox cubs sniff the air.” Birds stop by to rest and sing, while others build nests high in the treetop. The little fox has found a friend as summertime approaches.

“Now summer’s here, the sun is high, / Bees are humming in the sky.” Butterflies flit and ladybugs crawl, and the scent of “juicy apples, ripe and sweet” fills the air. Midsummer brings its own delights. The tree welcomes baby birds and the newborn foxes that sleep below under the starlit sky.

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Copyright Britta Teckentrup, 2016, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

The air turns cooler in early fall and “apples tumble to the ground. Grass is damp with morning dew. / Clouds drift across the skies of blue.” The green leaves turn red, orange, and yellow, and Owl watches as the animals begin gathering food for the long winter ahead. Soon, snow falls and the animals find shelter in the woods and underground.

A blanket of snow covers the earth, but in his nest Owl stays cozy. The forest is quiet, as if asleep. “The seasons have all come and gone. / Snow has fallen, sun has shone. / Owl sees the first new buds appear, / And so begins another year….”

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Copyright Britta Teckentrup, 2016, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Britta Teckentrup’s Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book is an interactive triumph of design and story that begins with the cover where a little owl peeks out of his hole deep in the tree. As each season approaches, matures, and gives way to the next in Techentrup’s lovely verses, readers watch along with Owl as bear cubs, squirrels, birds, and bees also take up residence in the tree. With the turn of each page and as the seasons get warmer, die-cut holes reveal the animals, birds, and insects playing among the branches. When summer wanes and autumn and winter come, the die-cut holes decrease as each species goes off to spend the winter in their own way.

Young readers will love interacting with the holes in the sturdy pages, discovering the blossoming forest in such a tactile way. They’ll also enjoy watching the stories of the foxes, birds, and one industrious spider play out throughout the year. The jaunty rhymes are fun to read aloud and will entice children to read along as well.

Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book is a delightful book for home and classroom story times as spring blossoms and throughout the year.

Ages 3 – 7

Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1101932421

Discover more about Britta Teckentrup, her books, and her art on her website.

International Day of Forests Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tree-craft

Your Special Tree

 

Every tree is unique—just like people! With this craft you can use your imagination to make a tree that’s as special as you are.

Supplies

  • Printable Tree Template
  • Two 8 ½ by 11-inch sheets of foam or heavy stock paper in whatever color you’d like your tree to be
  • Colored paper for the leaves,
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

Directions

  1. Print and cut out 2 copies of the trunk template
  2. Make a cut half way down the middle of the first trunk from the top of the trunk
  3. Make a cut half way up the middle of the second trunk from the bottom of the trunk
  4. Fit the two pieces of the trunk together

Personalize Your Tree

  1. Cut leaves from colored paper, you can make a spring, summer, autumn or rainbow-colored tree!
  2. On the leaves you can write some of your favorite books, the names of your friends, things you’re thankful for, your goals, or any special things about yourself. Your leaves could even make a poem!
  3. Then glue or tape the leaves to your tree and display it

Picture Book Review

September 19 – It’s Self-Care Awareness Month

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About the Holiday

We hear a lot about caring for and taking care of others, but caring for yourself is important too. Making sure you are happy and healthy physically and emotionally goes a long way in determining your quality of life and how you can relate to others. Taking care of yourself comes in many forms. Eating well, getting enough exercise, finding time to relax and have fun, and even saying “no” instead of always “yes” are just a few of the ways that you can ensure you’re looking out for yourself. Today, take a pledge to be good to yourself—not just one day a year, but every day.

The Curious Cares of Bears

Written by Douglas Florian | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 

If you’re out in the woods and you come upon bears, you might find that they have some “curious cares.” During spring, bears are careful when “climbing up trees and stealing the honey from beehives of bees.” After being well fed, bears like to run and play and stop along the way to smell the flowers. For cub brothers and sisters some teasing and wrestling fill out the day.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Summer brings new cares, such as “swimming inside of a creek, playing jump rope or perhaps hide-and-seek.” Vacation time means visits from family far and near, including bear hugs, delicious feasts, and dancing till dawn. Bears are also fond of exploring the mountains by hiking and biking, and on hot, hazy days they relax in the lake, drying off later with “great big bear shakes.”

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

In autumn, bear cares become cozy and warm as they play in leaf piles and sing campfire songs. When the winter chill comes, they hibernate in their dens, “where deeply they sleep till the springtime and then…they slowly emerge as the frozen grounds thaw and start to explore the wide world with awe.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-smelling flowers

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Douglas Florian guides little ones through a year of shenanigans and contentment with a group of bears that are more carefree than careful. These adorable bears know how to take care of themselves and enjoy being together—just like children do. Florian’s gentle rhymes will charm readers and remind them of the good times they have throughout the year.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Sonia Sánchez’s sweet bear families know how to spend a year, taking care to appreciate every moment. From the precarious maneuvers to reach honey on a thin, bendy sapling to tumbling and splashing in a creek, to dancing in a conga line, these bears understand how to have a good time. Little readers will giggle at the shower of water droplets (and a few ants) that spray from a bear drying off and snuggle closer as the bears gather around a glowing campfire. As the bears emerge from their winter sleep, children will also be ready to look at their world with awe.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499804621

Self-Care Awareness Month Activity

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Relaxation Sand

 

Sometimes you just need to zone out and relax, but it’s hard to ignore all the sights and sounds around you and the thoughts that swirl through your mind. Playing with this kinetic sand can help you take it easy and let the world slip away like the sand slipping through your fingers.

Supplies

  • 1 cup of play sand
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap
  • About ¾ cup of water—or as much as needed
  • Bin or large bowl
  • Small bowl

Directions

The amount of water you use will depend on the consistency of the sand

  1. In a bin or bowl, combine the sand and cornstarch and mix well
  2. In the small bowl combine the dish soap and water and stir until the water is bubbly
  3. Slowly pour some of the water/dish soap mixture into the sand/cornstarch mixture and mix well.
  4. Continue mixing, adding a little water at a time until the desired consistency is reached

Picture Book Review