August 18 – Break the Monotony Day

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About the Holiday

Are you stuck in a rut? Are you so entrenched that you can’t imagine breaking your comfortable routine? Then maybe it’s time for a change. And that’s what today’s holiday is all about. It doesn’t take much to break the monotony—just a simple change-up will do. So today, instead of having your usual latte, order a chai. They’re delicious! Instead of following the same boring route to work or school, zip down a different road. You never know what you will see! And Instead of binge-watching that show, try a new one.  I know! But you can go back to it tomorrow. Of course, one of the best ways to break the monotony is by reading books—they’ll take you to all sorts of places, you’ll meet new, exciting people, and you’ll get involved in events you never thought possible! 

Somewhere Else

By Gus Gordon

 

There are birds that fly north and those that fly south. There are birds that take the bus and those that don’t care how they travel just so long as they go somewhere. And then there’s George Laurent. “George never went anywhere.” He told himself that he liked his home and his garden and, especially, the pastries he baked in his oven better than anything or anywhere else.

It wasn’t like he never saw anyone. His “friends were always dropping by on their way to somewhere else” to enjoy his delicious treats. And they often invited George to fly away with them. When Penelope Thornwhistle was reminded of the Andes while eating one of his éclairs, she asked George to go there with her. But George had potentially award-winning brownies in the oven. When Walter Greenburg tasted George’s apple strudel and thought about Paris, he was ready to take George to see the city of lights, but George had ironing to do. And a trip to the Alaskan tundra with a flock of other ducks had to be postponed because of yoga class.

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Copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

As time went on, everyone stopped asking George to share their adventures. They knew he was too busy anyway. When winter came, “George found himself alone.” At least until Pascal Lombard came knocking, looking for a place to spend the snowy months. When the bear wondered why George wasn’t sunning himself on some Caribbean beach, George said he was learning Flamenco songs on his guitar, catching up on the TV series Lost in Space, and typing out his memoirs.

But Pascal reminded George that he didn’t have a guitar or a television and that he hadn’t yet done anything worthy of a memoir. It was then that George made his confession: he didn’t know how to fly. When all the other ducks had learned to fly, he said, he had been too busy with something else. “He had been making excuses not to fly ever since.”

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Copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Well, Pascal was ready to remedy the situation. Fortunately, he had an “uncanny knack for solving tricky problems.” They tried reading books, taking wing on a kite, and using a crane. But nothing worked. “It turned out Pascal Lombard didn’t have much of a knack for solving tricky problems after all.” Both George and Pascal felt disappointed as they read by the fire, until George happened to peek at Pascal’s newspaper and see an announcement for a hot air balloon ride in Paris.

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Copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

George was intrigued. And Pascal said, “‘I am remarkably good with my hands! We can build it!’” So they set to work, but it was harder than they thought, and “it took all winter (it turned out Pascal Lombard wasn’t actually very good with his hands).” Finally, though, they were flying! They flew their red patchwork balloon for months, seeing the Eiffel Tower, floating over the Arctic Circle, soaring through Madagascar, and experiencing places that were “more exciting than they had ever imagined.” But still, they missed George’s homemade pie. So they flew home, enjoyed tea and pie, and planned next year’s “anywhere somewhere else” adventure.

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Copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Gus Gordon’s tenderhearted and funny story about missed opportunities that can lead to more missed opportunities, excuses, and sometimes isolation tackles a common predicament not often seen in children’s books. George’s amusing tales of loads of laundry, Flamenco lessons, and yoga classes as well as his real talent for baking will endear George to readers, making his admission a moment for true empathy and encouragement. More silliness ensues as Pascal tries to help out, and kids will cheer when the two finally get off the ground.

Gordon’s reassurance that there’s no shame in making mistakes or not knowing something is also found in Pascal’s bravado and subsequent asides to the contrary. As George and Pascal work together to teach George to fly, kids see that help can be as close as a good friend—and as fun. A welcome undertone to the story is the idea that it’s also okay to be yourself: the first page abounds with very unique birds flying here and there; for Penelope an éclair reminds her of the Andes and for Walter, strudel reminds him of Paris—and who’s to say they’re wrong?; and when George and Pascal miss home and homemade goodies, they return to their favorite place.

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Copyright Gus Gordon, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Gordon’s illustrations are a treat too. Full of visual humor and word play, the mixed-media, collage-style images bring together snippets of old advertising, photography, and traditional mediums and invite readers to linger to catch all the humor included. The page on which George finally makes his confession is worthy of special note. Here, in contrast to the other pages, the background is white, a saddened George is simply sketched with a blue outline, and the stack of firewood he was carrying lies haphazardly at his feet. The image gives children and adults an opportunity to talk about feelings of embarrassment, doubt, or uncertainty.

Somewhere Else is an original story with heart, humor, and an uplifting lesson that would make a sweet and meaningful addition to classroom and home libraries.

Age 4 – 8

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626723498

Discover more about Gus Gordon and his books on his website.

Break the Monotony Day Activity

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Reading is Super! Maze

 

One of the best ways to add excitement to life is through reading! These kids are waiting for some books to read. Can you help the super-reader bring his friends new books in this printable Reading is Super Maze?

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You can find Somewhere Else at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

December 7 – International Civil Aviation Day

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About the Holiday

This United Nations-sponsored observance was established to raise worldwide awareness of the importance of civil aviation between cities and countries to their social and economic development. Every five years a theme is chosen under which agencies work to advance the global rapid transit network to the benefit of all. The theme for the years 2015 – 2018 is “Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind.” If you are an aviation buff, spend a little time today introducing your hobby to a child!

 Amazing Airplanes

Written by Tony Mitton | Illustrated by Ant Parker

 

“An airplane’s amazing / for it travels through the sky, / above the clouds for miles and miles, / so very fast and high.” Where do you start a trip by airplane? At the airport! First you go inside the terminal to check in, show your ticket, and leave your luggage. While you wait at the gate, the ground crew weigh the passengers’ bags and load them into the cargo hold at the bottom of the plane.

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Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

When your flight is called, you’ll take the walkway connecting the plane to the terminal. Once inside the plane, you find your seat. In the flight deck the pilot and co-pilot are ready to “do their jobs. / They both know how to fly the plane / with all its dials and knobs.” Before taking off, the pilot radios the Control Tower to make sure the runway is clear.

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Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

When everything is ready and the plane is just about to leave, “by intercom the captain on the flight deck says hello. / You have to do your seat belt up before the plane can go.” Then that big and heavy plane races down the runway and soars into the sky. How can it do this and fly among the clouds? “Its wings hold big jet engines / which are loud and very strong. / They suck in air and blow it through / to whoosh the plane along.” Then when the plane is going fast enough, the air is moving quickly too. “It pushes up beneath the wings / and makes the whole plane lift.”

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Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Once the plane is in the air, the flight attendants come by with drinks and snacks, and you can watch a movie in your seat. When the plane has reached its destination, the pilot radios the Control Tower to see if it is safe to land. Then “there’s a bumpy, rumbling sound— / the wheels are making contact, / and the plane is on the ground.”

When the door opens you gather your things and leave the plane, full of smiles. It’s fun to visit new exciting places, to “fly for miles and miles.”

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Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

On the final page, the parts of an airplane and the control tower are described in more detail.

Tony Mitton’s engaging rhymes introduce young readers to the various steps in plane travel and parts of an airplane in language that is accurate while maintaining a child’s sense of wonder and fun in this mode of travel. The mini-lesson in aerodynamics will intrigue little ones with a mechanical or engineering mind and may spur an interest in more exploration.

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Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Ant Parker’s bright and cheerful illustrations that follow a group of animals on their flight are full of the kinds of realistic details that young travel and airplane enthusiasts will want to linger over. The traveling friends watch as their luggage is wheeled out to the tarmac, allowing kids to see the ground crew load the bags into the cargo hold. The flight deck with its myriad “dials and knobs” is drawn from a perspective that allows readers to see the whole cockpit while also showing the control tower in the background. The wings are depicted with their various panels and supporting the engines, while the cabin and refreshment carts are also portrayed with realistic touches.  

For children enthralled by airplanes and transportation or who are taking their first flight, Amazing Airplanes makes a first-rate choice for home bookshelves or as a take-along in a carry-on bag for in-flight reading.

Ages 2 – 5

Kingfisher Publishing, Macmillian, 2017 Board Book Edition | ISBN 978-0753473702 (Paperback ISBN 978-0753459157; Hardcover ISBN 978-0753454039)

To learn more about Tony Mitton and his books, visit his website.

View a gallery of artwork by Ant Parker on his website.

International Civil Aviation Day Activity

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Got a Plane to Catch Word Search Puzzle

 

When you’re flying, do you think of all the parts of the plane you’re in? Find all twenty plane-related words in this printable Got a Plane to Catch Word Search Puzzle. Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review