May 14 – Mother’s Day

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About the Holiday

We always love our moms, but on the second Sunday of May we celebrate everything they do for us. On May 9, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation establishing Mother’s Day as “a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”  First envisioned to honor all mothers instead of primarily your own, the day has become a personal holiday in which families celebrate in their own unique and meaningful way.

Just Me and My Mom

By Mercer Mayer

 

Little Critter and his pet frog were having a day out with Mom, traveling into the city on the train. Little Critter even got to buy the tickets himself. He’s also learned some manners and tried to help his mom get on the train, “but the steps were too high,” so his mom helped him instead. Soon they were all settled in and waiting for the conductor to punch their tickets. “But when the conductor came by, the tickets were gone. So Mom paid the conductor some more money.”

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Copyright Mercer Mayer, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

They disembarked into a very busy city. All the crowds, sounds, and sights were a little overwhelming, but Little Critter was only thinking of his mom. He “held her hand so she wouldn’t be scared.” Their first stop was the Museum of Natural History with its rooms full of dinosaur skeletons and eggs that are so tempting to touch.

In the next room there was a Native American exhibit, complete with mannequins wearing costumes to try on. Little Critter dressed up “just for Mom. But the museum guard didn’t like that.” The guard quickly showed them into another room where the Aquarium was. “There were lots of fish in a big tank of water.” Somehow Little Critter’s frog joined them. During the seal show, Little Critter became part of the program. He didn’t mean to end up on stage, he just wanted “a closer look at the seals.”

The art museum had weird pictures, and lunch at the fancy restaurant ended before it even began when the maître d’ threw them out for having a frog at the table. They “decided to have a hot dog from a stand. That was more fun anyway.” Then came the boring part. “Mom wanted to go to a big store full of dresses and stuff like that. Yuck.” Little Critter even had to be fitted for a new suit. When they passed the toy department, Little Critter found the enormous teddy bear he had “always wanted but Mom said, “‘It’s time to go.’”

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Copyright Mercer Mayer, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Finally, it was time to head back to the train station. They took a taxi and Little Critter “got to ride in the front seat. The taxi driver drove real fast. That was cool.” At the ticket window Little Critter’s mom had a good idea. She bought the tickets herself because she “didn’t have enough money to buy more tickets if these got lost.” All in all, what would Little Critter say about his day? “We had fun, just me and my mom. I even stayed awake all the way home—well, almost.”

With an eagle eye and perfect pitch, Mercer Mayer reveals the way it is for parents and kids—with plenty of laughs sprinkled in. In Just Me and My Mom, the day may be full of mishaps and shenanigans, but Mayer is always focused on the sweet intentions of Little Critter and the loving relationship between mother and child. Mayer’s city bustles with his well-known animal characters who are colorful in so many ways. Kids will recognize and giggle at Little Critter as he plays ball with the seals, picks up the dinosaur egg, scowls at the tailor, and enjoys a high-speed taxi ride through the city. Adults will appreciate the mortified looks on Mom’s face and also understand her ready smiles.

Ages 3 – 7

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2001 | ISBN 978-0307125842

You can enjoy tons of fun on the Little Critter World-Wide Network, including activities, movies, apps, a sing-a-long, and more!

Mother’s Day Activity

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Happy Mother’s Day Card

 

Here’s a pretty vase of flowers for you to color for your mom! You can make it even more personal by writing one thing you like best about your mom in the center of the flowers. Get your printable Happy Mother’s Day Card here!

Picture Book Review

October 31 – Halloween

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About the Holiday

Carving jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins, dressing up in spooky or funny costumes, and receiving candy just by ringing doorbells and calling out “Trick or Treat!” all make Halloween the favorite holiday of many. Thought to have originated around the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, during which people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts, Halloween—or All Hallows Eve—later ushered in the November observation of All Saints Day which honors all saints and martyrs. The holiday was later embraced as a community event and has been transformed into the celebration we know today. However you celebrate, enjoy this night when a shivery chill is just for fun.

Shivery Shades of Halloween: A Spooky Book of Colors

Written by Mary McKenna Siddals | Illustrated by Jimmy Pickering

 

Have you ever thought, “What color is Halloween?” Sure, we all know it’s orange and black—but what about the rest of the color wheel? Tell me—what’s your favorite color? Purple? Let me look through Shivery Shades of Halloween…Yes! Halloween is purple—“Twilight, / Shadows, / Monsters lurking, / Secret potion— / Poof! It’s working! Dusky-musky, bruisy-oozy, cruelish-ghoulish / Blotch of purple.”

Hey! This is fun! Give me another one! Gray, you say? Hang on…. Yes! Halloween is Gray! “Tombstone, gargoyle, / Dungeon wall, / Rats and rubble, / Haunted hall, / Dusty-fusty, dimly-grimly, shady-fraidy / Shroud of gray.”

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Image copyright Jimmy Pickering, text copyright Mary McKenna Siddals. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Okay, now it’s my turn. I’m choosing…Red. Yep! Halloween is also Red: “Tip of fang, / Flash of cape, / Horns and tail, / A gash, a gape, Bloody-ruddy, burning-churning, blushing-gushing / Stain of red.”

Wild! And that’s just the beginning! There are also spirited, spooky rhymes about brown, yellow, blue, white, green, and, of course, orange and black.

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Image copyright Jimmy Pickering, text copyright Mary McKenna Siddals. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Mary McKenna Siddals brings joy and a love of words—their sounds and their effects—to her verses that transport kids to the throbbing heart of Halloween on the broomsticks of color. In Shivery Shades of Halloween, Siddals presents all the spine-tingling  places, characters, and objects that make this holiday, and any mystery, so much chilling, thrilling fun. With giggles, ewwws, and a few shivers, kids will delight in the original and imaginative phrasing in this clever concept book.

Jimmy Pickering’s vibrant, full-bleed illustrations ooze, flash, and swirl with the colors of Halloween. For Green, a “queasy-peasy” web-eared reptile slurps a “vile brew” from a test tube as an evil scientist looks on and the walls seep with a thick green sludge. Purple zaps and sparks as the reptile is transformed into a smiling goblin with bats’ wings and five legs. This goblin then leads readers from page to page where they meet a tricky ghost, a haunted graveyard, a spell-casting wizard and crystal-ball-reading witch, a floating candlestick in a haunted house, a howling werewolf, a dancing caldron, a clumsy demon, and a trio of trick-or-treaters. Each painting incorporates touches of the other colors introduced, creating eye-catching and suspense-building pages.

Shivery Shades of Halloween is a book that kids will want to hear and you will want to read over and over. For teachers, the book makes a wonderful resource for writing lessons and the power of evocative words not only around Halloween, but at any time of the year. Shivery Shades of Halloween is one concept book that transcends its holiday theme and would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves as well as school and other libraries.

Ages 2 – 7

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014 | ISBN 978-0385369992

Take a peek at Victoria scaring up some fun by reading Shivery Shades of Halloween!

To learn more about Mary McKenna Siddals and her other books, visit her website! You’ll also find lots of activities as well as activity sheets to extend your enjoyment of Shivery Shades of Halloween: A Spooky Book of Colors as well as her other books.

Here’s a link to Shivery Shades of Halloween Activity Sheets.

You can also connect with Mary McKenna Siddals on her Shivery Shades of Halloween Facebook Page, where you’ll find more fun and a whole community of readers.

Discover more about Jimmy Pickering and view a gallery of his illustrations, paintings, sculpture and more on his website. You can also find him on Facebook!

Halloween Activity

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Spooky Halloween Mo-BOO-ile

 

With glue, glitter, and your imagination you can make your love of Halloween and its ghosts, ghouls, pumpkins, and more colorfully transparent to all!

Supplies

  • Printable Halloween figure templates | Template 1 | Template 2
  • Poster board or other heavy stock paper or cardboard
  • White glue
  • Glitter in a variety of colors
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Wax paper
  • Popsicle or craft sticks
  • Needle
  • White thread (or any color)
  • Fine-tip permanent marker
  • Hot glue gun or regular glue

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Directions

  1. Print the Halloween Figures templates
  2. Cut out the figures
  3. Trace the figures onto the poster board
  4. Cut out the figures around the outside edge and also along the inside edge
  5. Lay out the figure templates on the wax paper
  6. Gently pour some white glue into the center of the figure template
  7. Smooth the glue completely to the edges of the figure template, adding glue if needed
  8. Sprinkle glitter on the glue, as much or as little as you’d like

To dry the glue

  1. Let the figures sit overnight OR:
  2. Place the figures on the wax paper in a warm oven. Turn the oven on to 200 – 250 degrees and let it come up to heat. Then turn the oven off and place the figures inside. Check after 15 minutes and check frequently until dry.

After the glue is dry

  1. Add faces to the ghosts with a permanent marker
  2. Add googly eyes with the hot glue or regular glue
  3. If desired, color the edge of the template to match the color of the glitter

To hang figures

  1. Thread a needle with the desired length of thread and gently push the needle through the glue near the top of the figure.
  2. Tie the thread around a chandelier, curtain rod, or any other place you would like to decorate

Picture Book Review