October 31 – National Magic Day

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About the Holiday

Little ones know all about magic. Not only the rabbit-out-of-a-hat kind, but the wonder-of-the-world kind. Where do they get that wide-eyed awe at the amazing things the world has to offer? Some of it’s inborn, while the rest comes from you and books that make them laugh, think, and become part of a community. Reading books—like today’s—right from the start opens kids’ eyes to the magic around them—even what comes after “Abracadabra!” National Magic Day got it’s start in 1938 when a Chicago member of the Society of American Magicians sought official permission to honor the great Harry Houdini with a special day of recognition for his contributions to the world of magic. Houdini’s wife sanctioned the holiday and proclaimed October 31—the date of his death in 1926—as National Magic Day.

My Magical Dragon

Illustrated by Yujin Shin

A prince and princess in a magical kingdom are lucky to have “a dragon who was kind and strong” watch over them. One day the dragon soars through the air with the princess and prince on her back. They fly over mountains and ponds, homes and mushrooms and are delighted to see all the wondrous creatures—like flying horses, baby dragons, little monsters, fairies, and even a unicorn—who lived in their land.

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Image copyright Yujin Shin, 2019, courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

They glided through the sky until they spied a very special place. “At Grandma’s castle they stopped for tea, which Dragon helped make magically.” As Grandma brought out scrumptious ice cream, sparkly cupcakes, and a colorful salad, the dragon used her fire-breathing talents to heat the logs and make the teapot boil and sing.

After they’d feasted and had fun with their friends, the princess and prince took a nighttime flight on their protective dragon. While the kingdom grew quiet and all the creatures slept in their cozy homes or under the stars, the prince and princess snuggled into their beds and the dragon “took a long snooze underground.”

The short and sweet rhyming story of a prince and princess’s trip to Grandma’s is the frame for Yujin Shin’s adorable, show-stopping illustrations and interactive elements that will have little readers enthralled with each page of this joyful board book. The fun begins on the cover with a wheel to turn that adds a rainbow of glittery highlights to the dragon’s wings, body, and fire through shaped cutouts. 

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Image copyright Yujin Shin, 2019, courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

Opening the book, readers enter the kingdom at the front gate of the violet castle. On the lawn a winged pony meets a butterfly, a pink and a purple unicorn splash in a fountain, and cute-as-a-bug bugs peek out of colorful flowers. A mermaid in the moat even swims by to say hello. The highlight of the spread is the silver gate, which lifts up with a gentle push to reveal the prince and princess in the tower, a knight, a fairy, and a smiling monster. Down below, behind the gate, an orange and spotted dragon rouses from a nap.

Turn the page, and the trio are on their way to Grandmas. Little ones will want to linger over this two-page spread as happy and welcoming magical creatures appear from their fantastical homes, in clouds, and from behind mountains. Another easy-to-maneuver interactive element lets kids set the dragon’s wings flapping up and down. The prince and princess look as excited and amazed as readers will be.

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Image copyright Yujin Shin, 2019, courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

At Grandma’s, little ones will spy a few friends who have made the journey with the princess and prince. Tiny fingers can easily move the wheel to help the dragon blow her fiery breath to heat up the teapot. In a clever use of the wheel, it takes a bit of turning for the pot to steam—timing that mirrors a real teapot on the stove.

The tranquil nighttime scene will put little ones in mind of sleep as they see now-familiar friends happily snoozing as the princess, prince, and dragon arrive back at the castle. A cut-away view of the hill under the castle shows the dragon’s lair, and how the baby’s play while Mom’s away. With the pull of a tab—the mother dragon settles in for a long slumber. The tab also reveals another room in the dragon’s vast den and the silhouette of a dragon flying across the full, golden moon.

On the back cover, a cute mushroom challenges readers to find her in the book. Locating this character on each page will charm little ones.

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Image copyright Yujin Shin, 2019, courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

An enchanting, interactive story adults will enjoy sharing with their kids over and over, My Magical Dragon makes a wonderful gift for little ones, babies, and baby showers. The book will also be a favorite on your own home bookshelf and is a great choice for preschool and public library collections.

Ages Baby – 3

Abrams Appleseed, 2019 | ISBN 978-1419737312

National Magic Day Activity

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Cute Dragon Coloring Page

 

This cute dragon is no ordinary dragon, she’s a magical dragon! Print and grab the crayons—and don’t forget the glue stick and glitter!

Cute Dragon Coloring Page

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You can find My Magical Dragon at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 13 – It’s Happiness Happens Month and Interview with Illustrator Talitha Shipman

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About the Holiday

Happiness doesn’t have to be something we plan for, schedule into our calendars, or spend money on. In fact paying attention to those little moments during each day, going on spontaneous outings with friends or family, or taking time to do a favorite activity may be all you need to feel happier every day! And there are always those times of achievement, large and small, to celebrate—just like the one in today’s book!

On Your Way

Written by John Coy | Illustrated by Talitha Shipman

 

On a glorious morning as the sun rises, a mom sits under an apple tree while her son climbs its branches and recounts a momentous day. It was a glorious day, just like today, and she and her little one sat together in the rocker on the front porch. But then he began to squirm, wanting to crawl. As he made his way down the long porch, he watched the action near the barn: “cats and kittens crept round a corner. Ducks and ducklings waddled to water.” Rabbits and their bunnies and dogs and their puppies also bounded in the yard.

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Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2019, text copyright John Coy, 2019. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

When the baby reached his own little chair, he pulled himself up and “steadied for balance.” Perhaps there was a certain look in her son’s eyes that told her that day was the day. She tells him, “I knelt down and held out my arms. You wobbled, tumbled, plopped.” For inspiration they watched the sheep and her lamb ramble and the goat and her kid trot near the brook. Out in the yard now, the little boy tried again and fell again.

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Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2019, text copyright John Coy, 2019. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Mom picked him up and they watched their horse and her filly galloping. A deer and her fawn even jumped over the fence of the coral. With resolve and his mom’s encouragement, the tyke stood on his own again and with a “serious look” took one step and then another. With a smile of pride, he reached his mom’s outstretched arms. Then, she remembers, “We walked in the grass, where you practiced over and over.”

As he grew, his mom tells him, he took off, hopping and bounding, jumping and galloping. “Now,” she says, “you’re big and move in so many ways.” And even as she recalls his first halting steps, she imagines how far he will go.”

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Image copyright Talitha Shipman, 2019, text copyright John Coy, 2019. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

John Coy’s sweet reminiscence of a child’s first steps is a tender book for parents and children to share as they grow and achieve milestones both large and small. Coy’s encouraging storytelling juxtaposes the little boy’s progress with that of the baby animals on the family farm, a touching connection for children with nature and the wider world. The open ending is a heartening and emboldening look to the future for both children and adults.

Talitha Shipman pours heart and soul into her vibrant, cheerful illustrations that follow a child as he successfully accomplishes a major milestone. The soon-to-be toddler displays uncertainty, resolve, and pride in his expressive eyes, while his mom has that look of encouragement and love so familiar to parents and other caregivers. Each scene captures just the right gestures from Mom, who is caught rising from her chair as she realizes what her son is contemplating, kneeling down to meet him with welcoming arms, and holding his hands as he marches through the wispy grass. The toddler wobbles and high steps and in the blink of an eye—just as it seems in real life—is stomping through puddles and running with his dog. The shining dawn sun illuminates this new beginning and the child’s bright future ahead.

An adorable book to share with children just starting out on life’s road or to celebrate their accomplishments, On Your Way makes a delightful gift for new parents or other caregivers and a tender story time read at home, in the classroom, or for libraries.

Ages 3 – 5

Beaming Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1506452586

Discover more about John Coy and his books on his website.

To learn more about Talitha Shipman, her books, and her art, visit her website.

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Meet Talitha Shipman

Today, I’m happy to be talking with Talitha Shipman, an award-winning illustrator whose work appears in picture books, board books, magazines, and on greeting cards and other stationery products, about her inspirations, interacting with readers, and depicting emotion in illustrations.

What inspired you to become a children’s illustrator?

I have loved art all my life, and I was the “kid who could draw” all through elementary and high school. I went to college for Fine Art, but I realized after I graduated that what I loved most was telling stories through my art. That’s when I went back to school to get an MFA in illustration. The picture book illustration classes were my favorite. I knew I wanted to focus on that market.

Which artists were influential for you when you were growing up? Which picture books or illustrated books were your favorites? 

My absolute favorite artist growing up was James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. I spent a lot of time redrawing his dinosaur illustrations. I also loved Bill Peet a former Disney artist who illustrated many picture books, and Steven Kellogg, who wrote and illustrated the Pinkerton series.

What drew you to John Coy’s story when you first read the manuscript?

My daughter had just learned to walk about two years beforehand when I received John’s manuscript, so the process of babies taking those first few wobbly steps and all those crazy mixed emotions that come with them were fresh in my mind. There was that immediate emotional connection with the story that I hope other parents and caregivers of babies will make.

Your illustrations really shine with details that show a loving connection between characters. What, for you, are the keys to depicting the joy of being together or empathy between characters?

I think life is so much better when we focus on those little joyful moments that happen throughout the day. In my art, I try to really feel the emotions and moments I’m trying to portray. There’s that feeling when my daughter comes running at me full tilt and throws her arms around me. I can tuck that away and pull it out later to make an illustration more authentic. I think when we draw on life experiences, good and bad, and are vulnerable enough to express them somehow in art, we are able to pass that feeling along to an audience.

You count many greeting card companies among your clients. Can you talk a little about the process of designing cards and other products like notepaper?

Greeting cards are fun to create, but there are usually two avenues for artwork to get picked. Many illustrators will create designs that are finished, and card companies will buy them at trade shows or through the artist’s agent. They add text later on. Sometimes they will commission art, and they usually have a pretty good idea of what they want to be depicted, right down to the color palette. They’ll send reference images as well.

Meeting your readers at a book event must be a joy! Can you talk about one of your favorite events or visits? Why is this one memorable?

Hands down, doing an interactive art workshop with kids is the best. I want to inspire kids to pursue their own creative passions. Last year I did a winter-themed workshop with @KidLitCrafts in my hometown of Fort Wayne, and we created a wall of snowflakes and snowmen on black paper using white and blue paint. It was so amazing to watch the paper fill up with all the kids’ beautiful art.

One thing you love is helping kids find their style of creativity. How do you encourage children to develop their special talent? Do you have any anecdote from these interactions with kids that you’d like to share?

I’m going to tell a story about an adult. I recently met a woman at a state park nature preserve. She watched me sketch some turtles in a terrarium and then approached me and told me that when she was little, she loved drawing. One day her art teacher gave the class an assignment of drawing a turtle. She didn’t consider herself artistic, but she tried her best and was so proud of that turtle. All of the kids’ work was going to be on display for a special art night. She was so excited to share her turtle drawing with her parents. When they got there, she couldn’t find her drawing. So she asked her teacher where it went. The teacher told her that she accidentally spilled some coffee on it and threw it away. This deviated her so much that she didn’t do anything artistic until recently. This is tragic. One careless teacher changed this girl’s life and not for the better. Teachers, parents, tell your children that they are creative, and prove you mean it by valuing their work. If kids are bummed that they can’t draw as well as one of their classmates, help them practice and improve, or try some other way to express themselves artistically. Don’t ever tell them that art may not be their thing. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be a working artist, but everyone can incorporate art into their lives and reap the benefits. Don’t be the person who shuts that down in a child.

Which classic story would you like to illustrate? How would you portray a pivotal scene?

This isn’t a classic fairy tale, but we sing Silent Night to my daughter every night before bed. I’d love to illustrate a picture book version as a poem with visuals reminiscent of Austria, where the carol was written. I think there’d have to be a scene with snow softly falling and Christmas tree lights shining in village windows.

What’s up next for you?

I am working on my first Author/Illustrator book. It’s called Finding Beauty and it’s about a mother hoping to open her daughter’s eyes to the beauty in the world around her.

What is your favorite holiday?

Christmas all the way. I love the lights, the snow (if we’re lucky), Christmas carols, (as mentioned before) Christmas movies (Polar Express), and candlelight Christmas Eve services. The Christmas season encompasses so many happy memories and traditions in my family.

A holiday-themed event you recently participated in was Paddles Aweigh in Fort Wayne, Indiana that coincided with National Rivers Day. The paddle you painted is lovely with its depiction of river animals.

Can you tell readers about this project?

This was such a fun project and a bit out of my wheelhouse. I haven’t painted traditionally for a long time. Most of my work is digital art, so it was a bit scary to break out the paintbrushes again. There’s no delete button! I wanted to create a paddle that featured Indiana wildlife that you might see on or near rivers. I painted a beaver, a bullfrog, some minnows, a painted turtle, a northern water snake, and some Indiana wildflowers. 

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Fort Wayne sits at the confluence of three rivers, the Maumee, the Saint Joseph, and the Saint Mary’s. I was just one of over a hundred artists who painted a paddle. They’re all going to be on display at our new riverfront Promenade Park from the end of September through October. The project is also going to help fund field trips for kids on Fort Wayne’s restored canal boat the Sweet Breeze.

You can see more about this project on Talitha’s Instagram!

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Thanks so much, Talitha, for this fun chat! I wish you all the best with On Your Way and your upcoming Finding Beauty, also with Beaming Books!

You can connect with Talitha on

Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Twitter

Happiness Happens Month Activity

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Happiness Cards

 

Happiness can happen anywhere, and you can help make someone’s day extra happy with these printable Happiness Cards. Just give them to a friend, someone in your family, or someone who looks as if they need a pick-me-up. It’ll make you feel happy too!

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You can find On Your Way at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

November 21 – It’s National Family Literacy Month

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About the Holiday

Literacy really does begin at home during those cuddly moments when you and your child share a book. Reading with kids from birth helps them develop the skills to become proficient readers and instills a life-long love for books of all kinds. Even before babies can talk, they’re listening and learning, and as they grow children continue to love spending special times with parents and grandparents hearing stories and discovering the world through books. You don’t have to mark Family Literacy Month only in November – make it a year-round celebration!

Banana for Two

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu

 

As a mother strolls her shopping cart through the grocery store, she engages her toddler, who’s brought along two stuffed bunnies, in choosing the items they need. Mama talks to her child about the one roll of paper towels she puts in the cart, then it’s off to the cereal aisle. Holding up a colorful box, Mama says, “‘Here’s your favorite cereal’” to which her toddler enthusiastically answers, “‘MORE!’” Playfully, Mama holds the box up to one eye and says, “‘we don’t need more—just one box. Peek-a-boo! Can you see just one eye?’”

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Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2017, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2017. Courtesy of Start Bright Books.

Her little one giggles as they head for the dairy aisle for yogurt. Here, the child’s wish for “‘MORE!’” is granted, and Mama lets her little one hold the containers. “‘One, two—one for each hand,’ says Mama.” The child laughs and kicks, excited to help. As they pass through the fruit section, the toddler grabs a banana from the display and holds it up triumphantly. Mama is happy to add the one banana to the cart to eat later. “‘Look—one banana for one hand!’” she points out.

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Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2017, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2017. Courtesy of Start Bright Books.

At check-out, Mama names each item and the quantity they are buying as she puts the banana, yogurt, carrots, potatoes, milk, and other things on the conveyor belt. But her little one wants to help too! Suddenly, one of the stuffed bunnies is riding toward the smiling clerk on top of the roll of paper towels. Back home, it’s time for a snack. As Mama cuts the banana in half, her toddler proudly exclaims, “‘TWO!’” showing an understanding of the concept of two.

A note for parents, grandparents, and caregivers by early math expert Deborah Stipek is included. Gender neutral clothing and hair and the absence of personal pronouns in the text make this a universal book for all children.

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Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2017, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2017. Courtesy of Start Bright Books.

Ellen Mayer’s joyful math board book for the youngest readers introduces parents and other caregivers to ways that they can add math talk to everyday activities. In Banana for Two, grocery shopping becomes a fun opportunity for an adult and child to talk together about quantity—an important early building block for math understanding and future math success. Connecting concepts a child already knows—such as two containers of yogurt for two hands—as the mother does in Banana for Two is another way to strengthen understanding. Mayer’s conversational style—indeed the whole story is a conversation between mother and child—is sweet and loving and full of the kinds of moments that may seem routine to adults but that children cherish sharing with parents, grandparents, or other caregivers. And the final image of the little one happily savoring slices of banana will have kids asking for “‘MORE!'”

Ying-Hwa Hu’s exuberant illustrations of mother and child will make little ones and adults smile. Cheerful eye contact between the two shows the love they share and their enjoyment in spending time together. Colorful boxes and containers line the grocery store shelves, giving the pages a fresh and sunny feel. The items Mama adds to the cart are clearly shown in quantities of one and two. Little readers will love the adorable stuffed bunnies and join in the toddler’s pride as they too recognize the ideas of one and two.

Banana for Two makes an excellent shower or new baby gift and will quickly become a favorite at home and in preschool classrooms or programs.

Ages Birth – 2

Star Bright Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1595727886 | Spanish/English Edition Banana para dosBanana for Two ISBN 978-1595727992

To discover more about Ellen Mayer and her books as well as  find lots of resources for adults and fun activities for kids, visit her website.

Learn more about Ying-Hwa Hu and her art, and her books, visit her website.

National Family Literacy Month Activity

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Math Fun Is in the Bag Grocery Shopping Game

 

Little ones love to pretend to go grocery shopping! With the printable game pieces and instructions here, you and your child can fill a bag with items in quantities of one and two and share some math fun!

Supplies

Directions

To Make a Bag

  1. Fold the 8 ½” by 11” piece of paper in half and tape on the side and at the bottom
  2. Your child may enjoy decorating your homemade bag or a paper sandwich bag with crayons
  3. After printing the Math Fun Is in the Bag template, talk with your little one about the quantity of items in each picture. Even if your child is not talking yet, they are listening and learning.
  4. Help your child cut the pictures apart
  5. Ask your child to find a picture of one banana and put it in the bag
  6. Continue with the other pictures, noting the quantity of the item
  7. For older children, print two (or more) copies of the Math Fun Is in the Bag template and have them add two bananas, two cartons of milk, four carrots, and four containers of yogurt to the bag.
  8. Older children may also enjoy paying for their groceries with pennies in quantities of one or two (or more). Set a price for each item and help children count out the coins needed to pay for them.

More Math Fun!

You’ll find more Math Fun, including printable bunny puppets to make, pretend play suggestions, and tips for talking about two on Ellen Mayer’s Website

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You can find Banana for Two at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

October 9 – It’s National Book Month

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About the Holiday

This month-long holiday was established to get families excited about reading. As the weather turns cooler and activities turn indoors, reading together is a wonderful way to spend time having fun and making memories. Small children love being read to—and so do older kids! Sharing board books, picture books and chapter books that can be read at one sitting is always fun. Taking the journey of a novel together with tweens and teens can provide inspiring, emotional, funny, and bonding moments that last a lifetime.

This week I’m excited to share five new board books from Little Simon and to be partnering with them in an amazing giveaway of all five books. Simon & Schuster sent me the books to check out. All opinions are my own. You’ll find details about the giveaway below. Watch every day this week for another terrific title!

Roary the Lion Roars Too Loud (Wee Beasties)

Written by Ame Dyckman | Illustrated by Alex G Griffiths

 

Roary is a little lion, who “LOVES to roar his big outside roar.” Like when he wants to “say hello to Daddy,” he sneaks up on him and “ROARRRR!” Then Daddy is so surprised he rips his newspaper, spills his coffee, and tips over the little table.

Roary also loves his Mommy and can’t wait to say thank you when she does something nice for him—like bringing him some lemonade. But his “ROARRRR!” is so loud it shakes Mommy right off her feet, and the pitcher of lemonade and the glasses go flying. “OOPS! You roared too loud, Roary.”

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Image copyright Alex G Griffiths, 2018, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2018. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

Roary thinks the new baby is so sweet. He just wants to say good night. Is this a good time for a Roary “ROARRRR!?” No! Maybe you can show Roary what a quiet, inside voice sounds like. “You did it!” Roary thinks so too and whispers “Night-night. Sweet dreams” to the sleeping baby.  When the baby wakes up, what kind of voice does she use? Well, let’s just say she and her brother should get along roaringly well!

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Image copyright Alex G Griffiths, 2018, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2018. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

Ame Dyckman’s Wee Beasties series, including Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard and upcomingTouchy the Octopus Touches EVERYTHING, introduces little ones to good manners and social skills that revolve around going out, meeting new people, and expressing their emotions. Several examples of “over doing” are followed by an opportunity for the young snake, lion, and octopus to do the right thing. They just need to learn how. Through a direct appeal for help from the narrator, kids can practice speaking quietly, hugging gently, and looking without touching. In Roary the Lion Roars Too Loud, Roary is a sweet cub who loves his Daddy, Mommy, and baby sister as well as a little bit of fun (and maybe a bit of mischief too). He doesn’t mean to be disruptive; he just needs to learn to use his quiet voice. Dyckman ends the story on just the right note. While Roary is proud of himself for using his indoor voice, his equally loud baby sister provides one more laugh to charm readers.

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Image copyright Alex G Griffiths, 2018, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2018. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

Alex G Griffiths got the enviable job of creating mayhem from Roary’s loud ROARRRR! Tranquil scenes of Daddy quietly reading the newspaper and Mommy carrying a loaded tray of lemonade lead into slapstick panels of chaos, complete with toppled furniture, splashing drinks, lost eyeglasses, and slices of lemon that land everywhere, including on Roary’s head. Daddy and Mommy’s stern looks tell little readers that too loud is…well…too loud. Positive reinforcement for readers who “show” Roary how to use a quiet voice comes in the form of smiles, thumbs up, and confetti as well as an encouraging statement. When Roary whispers night-night, little ones will be happy to see Daddy giving him a big hug.  

A joyful way to teach toddlers and preschoolers important social skills, Roary the Lion Roars Too Loud and the rest of the Wee Beasties series would be an often-asked-for read for home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5

Little Simon, Simon & Schuster, 2018 | ISBN 978-1534410787

Discover more about Ame Dyckman and her books on her website.

To learn more about Alex G Griffiths, his books, and his art, visit his website.

The Gift of Story Time Giveaway

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Little Simon board books make the perfect gift for all of the young readers in your life! With cute and creative illustrations, accessible and engaging stories, and the perfect size and durability, these books are great for new parents and for reading aloud. These fun series teach important lessons and concepts through adorable characters, interesting stories, and hilarious creatures!

One (1) winner receives this collection of five sweet stories from Little Simon

  • The Itsy Bitsy School Bus, written by Jeffrey Burton | illustrated by Sanja Rešček
  • Roary the Lion Roars Too Loud, written by Ame Dyckman |illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths
  • Día de los Muertos, written by Hannah Eliot | illustrated by Jorge Gutierrez
  • This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer, written by Joan Holub | illustrated by Daniel Roode
  • Hello Knights!, written by Joan Holub | illustrated by Chris Dickason

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, October 8 – 14. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on October 15.

 Giveaway open to US addresses only | Prizing and samples provided by Little Simon.

National Book Month Activity

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Match the Lions!

 

These lions love to play together, but they’ve gotten separated from their twin! Pair up the lions that look alike in this printable Match the Lions Puzzle.

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You can find Roary the Lion Roars Too Loud at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

March 27 – National Joe Day

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About the Holiday

Are you just a regular Joe? Well, not today! Today you’re special! Today, we’re honoring all those regular Joes, cups of Joe, and people named or nicknamed Joe—or Jo. Why? Just because! So celebrate today by indulging in your favorite coffee, getting in touch with any friends or family named Joe—or Jo—or even changing your name to Joe for this particular day.

Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown

Written by Eric Litwin | Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

 

“Groovy Joe is totally fun. / He’s a song-singing, / tail-wagging / party of one.” And how does he rock? Wow! Like this: “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!” But just as Joe is feeling the beat, there’s a knock on the door. Who is it?  One tuba-playing dog who wants to join in. Now there are two dogs and a big ol’ tuba taking up space, but does Joe mind? Not at all! He just keeps groovin’ with a “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!”

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Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin, 2017. Courtesy of tomlichtenheld.com.

They’re soon interrupted by another knock at the door. Two more dogs come in, so now there are four! Four dogs mean there’s even less room for Joe. “Does Joe get upset? Goodness no!” So the four set to rockin’ ‘til there’s another knock at the door. “Who’s there?” asks Joe, and the answer is four. “Four who? Four more dogs are going to disco with you.” These dogs bring a flute, a cello, a violin, and a guitar. With eight in the room it’s getting pretty crowded, but does Joe care? Not a bit! They just “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!”

A pretty cool squirrel has danced onto the scene, and pretty soon he’s joined the band with his tambourine. Is eight dogs and one squirrel all the room can hold? No! Even though “This party is rocking” and “they’re packed on the floor… Groovy Joe says there’s always room for one more!” Do you know who that is? You’re about to find out because there’s a knock at the door. “Knock! Knock! / Who’s there? / Joe invited. / Joe invited who?” Just look! “Joe invited YOU to come to the party!”

So put on your dancing shoes and get your voice ready to sing because “there’s always room for more” at this “Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow!”

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Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, 2017, text copyright Eric Litwin, 2017. Courtesy of tomlichtenheld.com.

What little one can resist the upbeat beat of a dance party—especially one as inviting as Eric Litwin and Tom Lichtenheld’s disco bash at Groovy Joe’s? With a little math and a lot of inclusiveness, Litwin shows how adding more friends multiplies the fun. His infectious rhythm and repeated phrasing will have listeners memorizing and reading along with the knock-knock jokes and the call to party. Joe’s final invitation to kids to join in will have them up and dancing along joyfully.

Tom Lichtenheld’s shaggy Joe’s not worried about how much room he has. He’s only got smiles for the other dogs who come knocking at his door. As each new musician joins the band, readers will love watching the various dogs play their instruments and boogie to their own music. With each knock, the dogs stop their playing and turn their eager eyes to the door anticipating the fun repartee to come and the appearance of more friends. Presented addition problems, clearly drawn instruments, and a crew of recognizable dog breeds also give adults and kids lots to talk about during the party.

With playful, action-packed fun for energetic story times, Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown would be a terrific and favorite choice for preschool, kindergarten, and home libraries. The story would even be fun to act out for added learning opportunities.

Ages 3 – 5

Orchard Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-0545883795

Discover more about Eric Litwin, his books, music, and more plus find free downloads on his website

To learn more about Tom Lichtenheld, view a portfolio of his books, and find fun activities, visit his website.

Dance along with Joe and Eric in this Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown book trailer!

National Joe Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-build-a-band-game

Build a Band Game 

 

Play this fun game to gather all the instruments you need to create a band. The first person to collect all six instrument cards is the winner!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the Paper Die Template, cut it out and assemble the cube die.
  2. Print the Musical Instruments cards, cut out cards, and separate the instruments into piles
  3. Players take turns rolling the die to collect musical instrument cards
  4. The first player to collect all 6 instrument cards is the winner

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.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazing-airplanes-take-off

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-airplane-parts-word-search-puzzle

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

December 4 – National Sock Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday celebrates togetherness—the togetherness of matched socks that always seem to find each other even after being tumbled around in the washer, separated in the drier, stuffed into different shoes, and tossed onto the floor. Mismatched socks are fun, but having a pair of matching socks goes a long way toward looking neat and put together. To  honor today’s holiday, you might want to spend a little time organizing your sock drawer or doing a little laundry. As winter approaches, your tootsies will thank you for having warming socks ready to go!

Red Socks

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu

 

It’s laundry day and the clothes are all dried and soft and ready to wear. “‘Here is your blue shirt, with the goldfish on it,’” Mama says, pulling the top out of the basket and bending down to eye level to show it to her baby. Next, Mama describes the “yellow and white striped pants” she puts on her child. “‘Let’s see what else is in the laundry basket,’” she says.

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Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, text copyright Ellen Mayer. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Mama pulls a tiny red sock from the basket, but—“UH-OH!—where is the other red sock?’” Now it’s the baby’s turn to help. With a look down, the toddler shows Mama where the sock is. “‘You found the other red sock. Yay!’” she says, giving words to the baby’s action. She continues explaining while pointing to the sock poking out of the baby’s pocket: “‘It was hiding in your pants pocket!” Once the laundry is folded, Mama tells her child exactly what they will do next while she playfully slips the other red sock on the baby’s wiggling feet. “‘Let’s put that other sock on your foot. Then we can go play outside.’” As the baby flies in the swing outside, the red socks are brilliant dots against the blue sky.

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Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, text copyright Ellen Mayer. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Ellen Mayer’s simple and charming story of a particular moment in a mother and child’s day will immediately appeal to even the youngest reader. Familiar words coupled with clear, vivid illustrations will engage toddlers who are pre-talking and just learning language and concept development. The mother’s use of complete sentences as well as step-by-step descriptions of the activities the child sees and is involved in demonstrates how adults can converse with their babies and young children to encourage strong language and literacy skills. Free of gender-specific pronouns, Red Socks is a universal story.

Ying-Hwa Hu’s illustrations show a mother and child interacting on a typical day while they complete common chores and go outside to play. The mother and child portray a range of emotions and gestures, giving further depth to the understanding of the ideas and conversation presented. Kids will giggle at the adorable puppy who causes a bit of mischief on each page.

Ages Birth – 5

Star Bright Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1595727060

To learn more about Ellen Mayer and her Small Talk Books® (including other titles: Cake Day and Rosa’s Very Big Job) as well as to find activities to accompany each book, visit her website!

Discover more about Ying-Hwa Hu and view a portfolio of her illustration work on her website!

About Small Talk Books®

Ellen Mayer’s Small Talk Books® feature young children and adults conversing (or adults speaking to children who are not talking yet) while they have fun, do chores, shop, and bake together. Their conversations demonstrate the kind of excitement and close relationships that encourage learning and language advancement. Each Small Talk Book® includes an accompanying note from Dr. Betty Bardige, an expert on young children’s language and literacy development and the author of Talk to Me, Baby! How You Can Support Young Children’s Language Development. The introduction discusses how children connect actions, words, and meaning as adults speak to them while doing particular jobs or actions.

Other titles in the Small Talk Books® series include Cake Day and Rosa’s Very Big Job. Each book makes a wonderful gift for baby showers, new parents, or anyone with young children in the family. They would be a welcome addition to any young child’s bookshelf as well as libraries and preschool classrooms.

National Sock Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sock-tumble-matching-game

 

Sock Tumble Matching Game

 

These socks were separated in the laundry. Can you find the matching pairs in this printable Sock Tumble Matching Game.

 

Picture Book Review