September 30 – National Hot Mulled Cider Day

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About the Holiday

As the weather turns cooler and eventually cold, hot drinks become a favorite for their warming properties and the cozy feeling they give inside. Hot Mulled Cider adds a festive touch to parties, dinners, or just sitting by the fire. The drink is made by heating apple cider until it’s nearly boiling and then simmering with adding spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, as well as orange peel or other fruits. One sip will tell you that the apple-picking season of autumn has come and remind you that winter is on its way.

A Pile of Leaves

By Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

 

As you rake up fallen leaves when autumn turns them from green to vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges and the wind plucks them from the trees, you know that with each swipe nature may present a little treasure. A Pile of Leaves is just as surprising, as page after page reveals deeper and deeper layers that hide colors, life, and even forgotten or lost items.

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Copyright Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin, 2018. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Clever transparent pages are rimmed in bold fall colors and painted with cottonwood, oak, maple, birch, ash, and other types of leaves. In their placement they hide something that becomes visible only with the turn of the page. The final little discovery will cause readers to smile in appreciation for the realism in this artistic look at a highlight of autumn.

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Copyright Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin, 2018. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The fresh and creative design of this board book will keep young readers enthralled as they ask again and again to see what’s underneath each leaf. The book is a wonderful way to inspire nature walks with children and to excite them to explore leaf piles and other seasonal changes in their own backyard.

An illustrated key in the back of the book tells the names of the leaves, insects, and other objects found on the pages.

Ages 2 – 5

Phaidon Press, Published in partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018 | ISBN 978-0714877204

To learn more about Jason Fulford and his books, visit his website.

Discover more about Tamara Shopsin, her books, and her art on her website.

National Hot Mulled Cider Day Activity

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Painted Flowers and Trees

 

Little ones are naturally creative, and with a variety of paints, your child will have fun mixing colors and making their own fall flowers and trees.

Supplies

  • Craft paints in different colors
  • Small paper plates
  • Straws (optional)

Or

  • Construction paper (optional)
  • Poster board or large piece of heavy paper
  • Paper grass
  • Paint brush
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Put out a variety of paints and some small paper plates
  2. Let your child paint the paper plates, with single paints or mixing colors as they want
  3. Let the plates dry
  4. Glue the plate or plates to a large piece of poster board or heavy paper
  5. Add a straw as a stem or cut a trunk from construction paper
  6. Add shredded paper grass or a strip of construction paper for the ground
  7. Add leaves if making fall flowers

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You can find A Pile of Leaves at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 4 – National Wildlife Day – Guest Post by Author Marsha Diane Arnold

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About the Holiday

National Wildlife Day was established in 2005 by author and pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige in memory of conservationist Steve Irwin. The day promotes awareness of the importance of conservation of animals, habitats, and the environment worldwide and offers education on the number of endangered and threatened species across the globe. To honor today’s holiday, visit a local zoo, aquarium, or other nature preserve and take some time to learn about what you can do to help protect the environment.

Lee & Low Books sent me a copy of Galápagos Girl/ Galápagueña to check out. All opinions are my own. 

Welcome Marsha Diane Arnold

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I’m thrilled to have award-winning picture book author Marsha Diane Arnold as a guest blogger today revealing a bit of the backstory of Galápagos Girl / Galápagueña. Her past titles include the Smithsonian Notable Book The Pumpkin Runner and Lost. Found., which received three starred reviews. With more than one million books sold, Marsha’s stories have been called “whimsical,” “wacky,” “heartwarming,” and “uplifting” by captivated young readers. Marsha was inspired to write this story after traveling to the Galápagos Islands, where she met Valentina Cruz and had the opportunity to swim with sea lions and dolphins. She lives with her family in Alva, Florida.

Thank you, Kathryn, for having me visit your site on National Wildlife Day. It’s a perfect day to celebrate my newest book, Galápagos Girl / Galápagueña, along with conservation of wild places and animals!

As a child, would you have enjoyed swimming with sea lions? Feeding plums to giant tortoises by hand? Having warblers fly through your house? That was the life of Valentina Cruz. Galápagos Girl is based on her idyllic life on remote Floreana island in the Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago west of Ecuador.

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My photos of actual blue-footed booby and Galápagos marine iguana.

Valentina grew up surrounded by nature, but perhaps more accurately, she grew up in nature. I think when a child grows up seeing wild wonders every day, they grow up respecting and protecting nature and wildlife. Valentina and her siblings certainly did. She grew up to be a biologist and naturalist guide. One brother, Eliecer Cruz, was director of the Galápagos National Park and, later, director of the Galápagos branch of the World Wildlife Fund. Another brother, Felipe, worked on many projects with the Charles Darwin Research Station, including studying the challenges that face the Galápagos petrel. Her sister, Marilyn, is director of Galápagos Biosecurity Agency, which helps control and prevent invasive species in the islands.

In some ways, Valentina’s childhood was similar to mine. She was surrounded by a loving family—her parents and eleven brothers and sisters. I only had one brother, but along with my parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, we gathered on many Sunday afternoons at my grandmother’s house. Valentina and I both delighted in nature, though hers was a more exotic nature—the distant Galápagos Islands, where Charles Darwin discovered those famous finches and came up with his theory of natural selection. Mine was a small farm on the Kansas plains—I didn’t see the ocean until I was an adult. Valentina had Galápagos tortoises as pets and swam with sea lions. (Of course, keeping tortoises as pets is not allowed today.) I played with my neighbor’s pet raccoon (also, not allowed today) and listened to the meadowlark’s song from the roof of my house.

Valentina loves nature, home, and family, but has the soul of an adventurer. I’m much the same. When I grew up I yearned to see as much of the world as possible. When my long-time traveling buddy, Jean Gallagher, asked me to travel with her to the Galápagos, one of my long-time dreams came true.

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The Galápagos Gang – fellow travelers to a far-off land. Jean is 3rd to right in front. I am 4th.

It was on that 2007 trip that I met Valentina, one of our naturalist guides. With her, we visited Floreana and saw the home where she grew up. I was enamored. I thought how wonderful a book about the islands and their unique wildlife, woven together with Valentina’s childhood, would be. Yet it wasn’t until April 2009 that I emailed Valentina and told her of my dream to write a picture book based on her life. Over months and years, Valentina generously shared her stories with me.

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Valentina showing us the lay of the land.

Valentina got her sense of adventure and love of nature from her father, Eliecer Cruz Cevallos, who first arrived in the Galápagos in 1939. He was one of only 100 people living in the Galápagos at that time!

Eliecer returned to Ecuador and married Valentina’s mother, Emma Bedon. She made him promise they would never live in the Galápagos. Who can blame her? They’d have almost no human neighbors! But in 1944, she changed her mind. Emma sailed to Floreana with Eliecer to build a life together. Valentina told me that even living in the wild, her mother taught her children “to keep all the rules of a city so we do not grow up wild.”

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Valentina and her father on Floreana

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Valentina, her mother, and her sister

Two Galápagos tortoises were a big part of Valentina’s childhood, so I had to include them in Galápagos Girl. Floreana tortoise had long been extinct (or so it was thought).  So when Eliecer moved to Floreana, his friend gave him young tortoises from other islands. Eventually, the family released the tortoises to roam free. One of the most exciting things that happened to Valentina as a child was seeing the tortoises return to their farm that first year after their release. The main reason was the tasty plums dropping from the trees. Every year after that, when the plums ripened, the family waited for the tortoises to return. They always did!

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An illustration of one of the family’s tortoises eating a plum treat by Angela Dominguez

The tortoise story changed several times during the writing of my book due to Valentina’s remembering more over time, checking facts with her family, and a discovery near Wolf Volcano on Isabela, another Galápagos Island. What’s in my book isn’t exactly the way things were, but it’s close to the real story. As Valentina wisely shared: “Each of us remember things in different ways. Our memory is like pictures of what impresses us in that specific moment, so everything can be true and everything can be fiction.”

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One of eleven species of Galápagos tortoise

Regarding the exciting discovery on Wolf Volcano, scientists recently found tortoises there that carry some of the Floreana tortoise genes! There is a project now to bring these tortoises back to Floreana. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have partial Floreana tortoises wandering freely, restoring the ecology of Floreana?

You may ask, “How did Floreana tortoises get on Isabela Island?” That’s one more fascinating question about the Galápagos. If I visit your school, you can ask me and I’ll share more.

Thanks so much, Marsha, for sharing the fascinating story behind Galápagos Girl / Galápagueña!

You can connect with Marsha Diane Arnold on

Earth’s Voices | Facebook

National Wildlife Day Review

Galápagos Girl / Galapagueña

Written by Marsha Diane Arnold | Illustrated by Angela Dominguez | Translated by Adriana Dominguez

 

On the day when baby Valentina joined Mamá, Papá, and eleven brothers and sisters, even the sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and iguanas seemed to welcome her to the “island formed by fire.” Valentina loved growing up on the Galápagos Island of Floreana. She explored the lava rocks, where Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttled back and forth. She swam with dolphins and manta rays, and even played with penguins.

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Image copyright Angela Dominguez, 2018, text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold, 2018. Courtesy of Lee & Low Books.

“Valentina watched pink flamingoes wading near mangroves. Blue butterflies fluttering on the breeze. Red-and-green iguanas sneezing salt like tiny geysers.” The crashing waves, albatross, and finches created a symphony as Valentina stopped to rest on a grassy cliff overlooking the ocean. The lava lizards, blue-footed boobies, and twirling sea lions provided young Valentina with a variety of dance partners.

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Image copyright Angela Dominguez, 2018, text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold, 2018. Courtesy of Lee & Low Books.

At home, Valentina’s family shared their home with two giant tortoises—Carlitos and Isabella. One day Papá told Valentina their story as they fed the tortoises plums that had fallen from their backyard trees. Papá had gotten Carlitos and Isabella from a friend when he first moved to Floreana. Although it was nearly impossible to imagine now that the tortoises were grown, at the time they were so small that they fit into Papá’s pockets.

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Image copyright Angela Dominguez, 2018, text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold, 2018. Courtesy of Lee & Low Books.

There was also a sad note to Papá’s story. He said that while giant tortoises still lived on other Galápagos islands, pirates and whalers had wiped out the population on Floreana. Papá went on to tell Valentina that many Galápagos animals were in danger. They were “threatened by other animals that don’t belong here. Threatened by people who don’t understand how to care for our islands.” Valentina promised that she would always protect them.

When she was older, Valentina left the island to go to school. She didn’t want to leave her beautiful home, but Mamá told her that she was “ready to learn about the world beyond.” And Papá reminded her that “like our islands, you have a heart full of fire.” On school vacations, Valentina always came back to study the wildlife on the Galápagos islands. She had not forgotten her promise to keep them safe.

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Image copyright Angela Dominguez, 2018, text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold, 2018. Courtesy of Lee & Low Books.

After she graduated with a degree in biology, Valentina returned to the islands as a nature guide to teach visitors about the beauty and uniqueness of the Galápagos. Some visitors were even lucky enough to meet Carlitos and Isabella when the plums dropped from the trees and the two old tortoises returned from exploring Floreana to eat them. Because of Valentina’s commitment to the Galápagos, her visitors also made a promise to always remember and protect them.

Extensive backmatter includes an Author’s Note about Valentina Cruz, the tortoises Carlitos and Isabella, and the history of tortoises on Floreana. There is also information on the Galápagos as well as fun facts about all of the animals in the story. A bibliography of sources invites readers to learn more.

Each two-page spread presents the text in English and translated into Spanish by Adriana Dominguez.

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Image copyright Angela Dominguez, 2018, text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold, 2018. Courtesy of Lee & Low Books.

Marsha Diane Arnold’s lyrical and buoyant passages sing with the carefree joy Valentina felt as a girl exploring her beloved Galápagos and which brought her back home as a biologist to protect them. After seeing Valentina playing and swimming with the native animals and feeding Carlitos and Isabella, readers will also feel Valentina’s sadness at the dangers they face and want to make a positive difference to the environment and the world around them. Arnold’s dialogue-rich storytelling highlights the personal nature of the subject and will draw children into Valentina’s world.celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Galápagos-Girl-blue-footed-booby

Saturated with glorious color, each of Angela Dominguez’s illustrations is a celebration of the splendor of the Galápagos. Playful sea lions, high-stepping blue-footed boobies, scampering crabs, and even a sneezing iguana will captivate young readers and inspire them to learn more about these creatures and the islands. Images of Valentina camping out to study the animals during school breaks will excite environmentally conscious kids, and pictures of Carlitos and Isabella happily munching on plums will generate smiles and “awwws.”

Galápagos Girl / Galapagueña will excite kids to learn more not only about the Galápagos region but about their own local environment, and the call to action will spark an enthusiasm for protecting the earth’s animals. The book would make an inspiring addition to home bookshelves and an excellent way to begin classroom discussions on environmental issues and science lessons. The engaging Spanish translation will delight Spanish-speaking and bilingual families.

Ages 4 – 8

Lee & Low Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-0892394135

Discover more about Marsha Diane Arnold and her books on her website.

To learn more about Angela Dominguez, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Wildlife Day Activity

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Animals of the Galápagos Match Up Puzzle

 

There are so many fascinating animals that live in the Galápagos! Can you match the picture of each animal to its description in this printable Animals of the Galápagos Match Up Puzzle? You can find and download the activity sheet from the Lee & Low Books website:

Animals of the Galápagos Match Up Puzzle

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You can find Galápagos Girl / Galapagueña at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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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….”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tree-a-peek-through-picture-book-late-summer

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

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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.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-swimming

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.

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

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