January 11 – Heritage Treasures Day

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About the Holiday

Heritage Treasures Day is an initiative established in the United Kingdom by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 1994 to preserve important parts of human history. Since that time nearly eight billion pounds raised through the national lottery have been dispersed to support more than 40,000 projects. Multiple funds have been created to support various types of programs. For example, “Sharing Heritage” provides money for local heritage sites ranging from personal memories to the conservation of an area’s wildlife, while “Our Heritage” is used to preserve archaeological sites, endangered wildlife, and museum collections. Heritage Grants are given to large projects such as the preservation and restoration of Stonehenge. Today’s holiday celebrates these efforts and raises global awareness of the importance of protecting and passing on our shared history. To celebrate on a smaller scale, take an opportunity to talk about your family’s stories, history, and legacy with your kids.

Maud and Grand-Maud

Written by Sara O’Leary | Illustrated by Kenard Pak

 

On certain Saturdays Maud gets to sleep over at Grand-Maud’s house. She sleeps in a special nightgown that Grand-Maud made for her. “The nightgown goes all the way to the floor, and is made out of plaid flannel, and is softer than anything.” Grand-Maud even made herself one to match. Once dressed, they have breakfast for dinner eaten on trays in front of the TV, where they watch old black and white movies. Maud thinks everything was black and white when Grand-Maud was a child.

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Image copyrigh Kenard Pak, 2020, text copyright Sara O’Leary, 2020. Courtesy of Random House.

At bedtime, Maud snuggles into the extra twin bed in Grand-Maud’s room. In this bed Maud always has good dreams, and under the bed hides a wooden chest in which “there is always something new for Maud placed inside, even when Grand-Maud doesn’t know she will be visiting.” Sometimes the thing is something bought new for Maud to use or play with. Other times Grand-Maud has made something for Maud, like “…a pair of mittens, or some cookies to take home so the time between visits is sweeter.”

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Image copyrigh Kenard Pak, 2020, text copyright Sara O’Leary, 2020. Courtesy of Random House.

But the best times are when the chest holds “something from when Grand-Maud was a little girl herself.” Once Maud found a heart-shaped stone that Grand-Maud had carried in her pocket for a whole year. Now Maud carries it in hers. This time, Maud pulls out a book of fairy tales that Grand-Maud had written her name in. Maud was happy to see her own name in it.

That night, with the lights dimmed, Grand-Maud and Maud talked about the future. Maud said she wants to be a writer and have at least seven children. She imagines living in “‘…a very tall house so that the children can have bunk beds that go up and up and up.’” Grand-Maud says that later Maud will have her own granddaughter. The thought makes Maud smile. In her dream she lives in an apartment just like Grand-Maud’s and is standing at the doorstep to welcome Maud for a special visit.

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Image copyrigh Kenard Pak, 2020, text copyright Sara O’Leary, 2020. Courtesy of Random House.

Sara O’Leary’s story about the connection between a grandmother and her granddaughter who share the same name is sweet and endearing. With homey details—a homemade nightgown, breakfast for dinner, and especially the wooden chest that always holds a surprise, O’Leary perfectly captures the comforting love and sense of adventure children feel when spending time with their grandparents. The old movies Maud and Grand-Maud watch together, the treasures Grand-Maud passes down to Maud, and the interest Grand-Maud shows in her granddaughter’s future all demonstrate simple but meaningful ways for older and younger generations to share their experiences and build understanding and strong bonds. O’Leary’s straightforward and lovely storytelling, highlighted with realistic dialogue, makes for rich and cuddly story times that can lead to discussions between kids and adults about their own family heritage. Her moving ending charms with a look toward a future of continued family ties.

Kenard Pak’s soft illustrations in warm browns, reds, and blues will enchant readers as they are invited into Grand-Maud’s cozy brownstone apartment to share a sleepover with Maud. Pak alternates between images of the close-knit grandmother and granddaughter, happy to be sitting side by side while sharing meals, memories, and talks of the future, with pages that give children a closer look at their breakfast supper, the enticing wooden chest and past items it has contained, and Maud’s imaginings, including the stories she’ll write, her future children’s bunkbeds, and that childlike idea that the world in the era of black-and-white movies was also black and white.

As snug and as full of love as a hug, Maud and Grand-Maud is a tender book for grandparents and grandkids to read together or for parents and children to cuddle up with whenever they’re missing Grandma. The book would make a favorite read to spark conversations about family history and family stories. Maud and Grand-Maud is highly recommended for home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 8

Random House / Penguin Random House Canada, 2020 | ISBN 978-0399554582

Discover more about Sara O’Leary and her books on her website

To learn more about Kenard Pak, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Heritage Treasures Day Activity

CPB - Cookie Jar Museum (2)

Create a Family Story Exhibit

 

Every item has a story. A fun and educational way for kids to learn family stories and interact with their own history is for family members to each create an exhibit of favorite or meaningful objects in your home. Tags can tell how each item was obtained, any funny or interesting story that is attached to it, and what it means to the owner. Displaying and talking about the exhibits can be a fun way to spend time together while seeing common objects in a whole new light.

Supplies

  • A number of household 
  • Paper or index cards
  • Marker, pen, or pencil
  • A table, shelf, or other area for display

Directions

  1. To get started help children gather a number of items from around the house to be the subjects of their exhibit. An exhibit can have a theme, such as Travel Souvenirs, or it can contain random items of your child’s choice, like toys, plants, tools, or artwork.
  2. Using the paper or cards, children can create labels for their exhibit items. Older children can write the labels themselves; younger children may need adult help.
  3. Spend a little time relating the story behind each object: where it came from, how long you’ve had it, and when and how it was used in the past. Include any funny or touching memories attached to the item. Or let your child’s imagination run free, and let them create histories for the objects.
  4. When the labels are finished, arrange the items on a table, shelf, or in a room, and let your child lead family members on a tour. You can even share the exhibit with family and friends on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or other app.

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You can find Maud and Grand-Maud at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookseller, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

April 26 – It’s Humor Month

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About the Holiday

As we near the end of April and wind down National Humor Month, let’s take one more opportunity to laugh at the ridiculous and the silly and to find joy in every day. Not only does laughter bring people closer together, it’s therapeutic both for body and soul.

Quit Calling Me a Monster!

Written by Jory John | Illustrated by Bob Shea

 

A purple, hairy guy with long stick legs and arms and long bent toes and fingers rides his bike along the street, catching a butterfly on his finger and carefully transporting a basket full of flowers and bread. But all the kids on the school bus see as he passes is the purple, the legs, the arms, the fingers, and the toes – a monste. And all the guy sees is the wide eyes and fearful expressions of the kids in the windows.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-quit-calling-me-a-monster-interior-art-bus      Image copyright Bob Shea, text copyright Jory John. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

So he stands his ground, craggy hands on hips and says, “Quit calling me a monster! Just…stop it, right this minute!” He’s serious! In fact he throws a bit of a fit, rolling on the ground and spouting, “It really hurts my feelings. I’m no monster!” Just because he may have a few monster-ish qualities like horns and fangs and wild eyes and crazy hair. And yes, he knows he has “a huge toothy smile that glows in the dark.” And, yeah, ok, so he’s not exactly a wallflower and can “roar, holler, scream, whoop, and cackle,” and likes to hide where his discovery will frighten someone most…he still says, “It really bothers me when you call me a monster without even thinking about it.”

Kids are always yelling, “‘Mommy, save me from that monster!” when he’s just trying to shop or complaining that there’s a monster under the bed when he’s just trying to sleep. Can he help it that his claws reach upward or that he growls when he dreams? Does he ever call kids names? Does he ever taunt someone as a “meat snack?” No! And that’s because he’s “a monster with excellent manners!”

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Image copyright Bob Shea, text copyright Jory John. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Umm…Well, I mean…he doesn’t “mean monster, exactly….” Oh, all right, if you’re going to get persnickety about it, he does have all those monster-ish traits and his parents are monsters, but he really doesn’t “like being called a monster one little bit.” If you want to call him, you can use his name, which is a very respectable Floyd Peterson. Now that that is settled, our purple friend is going to bed…in your closet. So if you hear him snoring in the middle of the night, you can rest assured that there is no monster in your closet, it’s just Floyd Peterson.

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Image copyright Bob Shea, text copyright Jory John. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Jory John gives hilarious voice to the frustrations of being labeled as someone or something you’re not while also affirming that it’s okay to be who you really are. Snap judgements based on preconceived notions or stereotypes limits a person’s world view and the friends they can make. And what’s wrong with being a “monster” or “Floyd Peterson” or (insert word here) anyway? Kids and adults will laugh as Floyd lists page after page of his monster-ish qualities while also denying that he is, indeed, a monster. The ending is sweet and kid-like and puts to bed fear of the unknown.

Bob Shea’s monster, aka Floyd Peterson, is a frighteningly endearing character that kids will whole-heartedly embrace. Floyd’s coarse purple hair, scrawny legs and arms, and big grin along with his range of personas, from alarming to loveable, will make kids giggle. The bright solid backgrounds put the focus on Floyd and all of his roaring, flailing, and leaping—just as Floyd (and all little monsters) sometimes want and need.

Ages 3 – 7

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0385389907

Jory John has a whole gallery of books for you to discover on his website!

Discover Bob Shea‘s “Books for Really Smart Kids” on  his website!

Quit what you’re doing and watch this Quit Calling me a Monster! book trailer!

National Humor Month Activity 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-merry-monsters-coloring-page

Merry Monsters Coloring Page 

 

These two cute monsters want to play, but first they need a little color! Get out your crayons, markers, or pencils and fix them up! Here’s your printable Merry Monsters Coloring Page! Now, it’s your turn – if you were a monster, what would you look like? Draw yourself as a Magnificent Monster!

Picture Book Review

April 22 – Earth Day

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About the Holiday

While we should be mindful of our impact on the earth every day, today’s holiday puts a focus on how we can conserve and protect the beauty and resources of our planet. Now more than ever, it’s up to us to do what we can on a personal level to make sure the environment is clean, healthy, and sustainable for the future. If you’d like to learn how you can make a difference or get involved with your global community, here’s a good place to start!

Finding Wild

Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd | Illustrated by Abigail Halpin

 

A girl and a boy stand with their backs to the stairs leading down to the subway contemplating the jungle of growth in front of them. A single floating leaf seems to lead the way. They follow along the path, leaving the city behind and enter the wild. Here “Wild is tiny and fragile and sweet-baby new. It pushes through cracks and crannies and steals back forgotten places.” Wild comes in many guises—some obvious, some not.

Wild also moves in various ways. As the boy and girl continue on the path passing a spider’s web and shadowy shapes with glowing eyes, wild “creeps and crawls and slithers. It leaps and pounces and shows its teeth.” Everywhere the pair ventures, wild has a distinct smell—fresh or musty, sharp or sweet, tangy or acrid. They discover wild can be as hot as a forest fire or as cold as an icicle. Running through a field of flowers and climbing a rocky cliff, the two find that wild is “as smooth as the petals of poppies, and as rough as the fierce face of a mountain.” They also find that wild can hurt in so many ways.

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Image copyright Abigail Halpin, text copyright Megan Wagner Lloyd. Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf

Plunging deeper into the wild the boy and girl uncover more secrets—delicious and quenching. The sounds of wild chill and soothe them. Suddenly, though, the girl and the boy find themselves outside of the wild, back in front of a subway entrance. The wild, now seems far away, invisible and unknown, as if “the whole world is clean and paved, ordered and tidy.” As the pair gaze upward, the tall buildings and skyscrapers block the sky. But the girl points to a leaf swirling through the air. They follow it through an open door that leads to a most surprising discovery.  

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Image copyright Abigail Halpin,  text copyright Megan Wagner Lloyd, Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf

Megan Wagner Lloyd entreats readers to rediscover the wild no matter where they live. Her lyrical descriptions of the splendor of nature in all its incarnations—from gentle to intense, quiet to loud, mysterious to open—delightfully capture the way children interact with the environment. Lloyd reminds readers that tasting a single juicy blackberry, thrilling to a coyote’s howl on a dark night, even feeling the prick of a cactus needle connect them to the greater world and that searching for and finding the wild—especially in the midst of an “ordered and tidy” world—brings peace and happiness.

Abigail Halpin’s lush illustrations of the wild environment gorgeously depict the vibrant colors, sometimes chilling shadows, and refreshing water the two children discover in the middle of their city. The thick vegetation rendered in a palette of greens is a riot of ferns, pines, flowering trees, and vines that hide small birds and animals. As the children huddle in a tent, the indigo night crackles with lightning and the songs of coyotes. A two-page scrapbook-type spread displays various plants and insects that sting, burn, or cause itching. When the boy and girl reenter the city, buildings—old and new—billboards, and traffic meet their eyes, but they keep their gaze on the leaf leading them on. That leaf invites readers, also, to get outside and explore the wild.

Ages 3 – 8

Alfred A. Knopf, Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1101932810

Discover more about Megan Wagner Lloyd, the world of Finding Wild, and news on her upcoming book on her website!

View a gallery of artwork by Abigail Halpin on her website!

Earth Day Activity

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Love the Earth Coloring Page

 

Earth Day is all about loving the Earth and treating her well. Have fun with this printable Love the Earth Coloring Page and think of one thing you can do to make a difference!

Picture Book Review

 

March 7 – Unique Names Day

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Established in 1997 as part of Celebrate Your Name Week, Unique Names Day celebrates uncommon or uncommonly spelled names and encourages those with unique names to always take pride in their name. One way to celebrate is to find out more about your name and how or why your parents chose it.

The Name Jar

By Yangsook Choi

 

Unhei has recently moved to the United States from Korea. Although Unhei is excited about the first day of school, on the bus ride she misses her former home and looks at the wooden name stamp her grandmother gave her. A boy sitting behind Unhei notices the unfamiliar object and asks about it. Then other kids notice Unhei. They ask what her name is and when she answers, they mispronounce it, laughing and making jokes.

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Image copyright Yangsook Choi, courtesy of Random House

Unhei is embarrassed and glad that when the bus drops them off that those kids head to a different classroom than hers. As Unhei enters her own room, her classmates smile and greet her—it is obvious that their teacher has prepared them for a new student, and they are excited.

Of course, they first question her about her name, and remembering the experience on the bus, Unhei is reluctant to answer. She quickly says that she hasn’t picked a name yet, but will tell them next week. When she gets home, Unhei tells her mother that she wants an American name, a name that is easy to pronounce.

Her mother is dismayed; Unhei’s name was chosen by a master so that it would describe her uniqueness. But Unhei doesn’t want to be different, she just wants to fit in. Later while she and her mother are at a Korean grocery store, she introduces herself to the owner, who exclaims that her name is beautiful and means “grace” in English. 

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Image copyright Yangsook Choi, courtesy of Random House

That evening Unhei tries out American names in front of the mirror—Amanda, Laura, Susie—but they don’t feel or sound right. The next day at school Unhei finds a jar on her desk with pieces of paper in it. On each piece of paper is a name—suggestions from each of her classmates. Her new friends have chosen these names thoughtfully. Daisy is the nickname of one girl’s baby sister; Tamela is a smart and brave heroine from a story; and Wensday is the day Unhei joined their class.

At the end of the school day, a classmate named Joey comes to her. He knows she actually does have a name, and Unhei, while not wanting to say it out loud, shows him the characters on her wooden stamp. Joey thinks it is beautiful and asks to keep the paper. Day by day the glass jar fills up with names. Unhei will have to choose soon.

One Saturday Unhei returns to the Korean grocery store. When Mr. Kim calls her by name, the one other customer turns around. It’s Joey! Carefully and slowly he says Unheis name until he gets it right. On Monday when Unhei enters the classroom, she discovers that the jar is missing. It’s all right, though, Unhei has chosen her name.

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Image copyright Yangsook Choi, courtesy of Random House

She walks to the chalkboard and writes her real name in English and Korean. She tells the class that her name means “grace.” Other kids reveal the meaning of their names, and they all practice saying Unhei’s name. That evening Joey comes to visit. He explains that he took the jar because he wanted Unhei to keep her original name. He suggests putting Korean nicknames into the jar for their classmates to pick. He has already chosen his Korean name with the help of Mr. Kim. It is the prefect nickname: Chinku, which means “friend.”

Ages 3 – 8

Random House, Dragonfly Books, 2003 | ISBN  978-0440417996

Discover more about Yangsook Choi, her books, and her art on her website!

Yangsook Choi’s The Name Jar is as timely now as when it was first written. Through compelling and detailed storytelling, Choi explores the themes of identity, empathy, family, friendship, and more  with sometimes heartbreaking honesty. Unhei’s varied experiences at school, at home, and at the market provide an opportunity for adults and children to discuss and embrace the diversity of our multicultural world. Choi’s warm-toned illustrations reveal the conflicts that Unhei encounters and her growing confidence as she makes friends with Mr. Kim and Joey who accepts her as she is. 

Unique Names Day Activity

CPB - Name Jars standing

Love Your Name Organizer Jar

 

Everyone needs a place to store their special stuff! Here’s a way to recycle a plastic jar and make a cool organizer jar with your name on it. This organizer jar also makes a great gift for your friends!

Supplies

  • A large plastic jar, such as a peanut butter jar or mayonnaise jar, cleaned out and with the label removed
  • Acrylic multi-surface paint or markers
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk

CPB - Name Jars on sides

Directions

  1. Paint a rectangle on the front of the jar with chalkboard paint
  2. Decorate the rest of the jar with paint, markers, or paper just the way you want! My green jar sports a friendly dinosaur!

Picture Book Review

February 14 – International Book Giving Day

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About the Holiday

International Book Giving Day can be celebrated in so many ways. Do you know an adult or child who would love a new book? Why not surprise them with a special gift? Or perhaps you have books you’re ready to pass on to others. There are many organizations ready to give those books new life with new owners. Check whether you have a chapter of Reach Out and Read or another literacy organization in your community and donate what you can to this very worthy cause. Your local library can help too!

My Pet Book

By Bob Staake

 

In a town named Smartytown a little boy has a most unusual pet—a book! Not one for puppies and allergic to kittens, he wants a pet that’s “easy.” His mom and dad suggest a book, and the family heads to the bookstore to adopt one. The shelves are so full of appealing potential pets that it’s hard to choose. But then the little boy spies a small “frisky red hardcover,” and it’s love at first sight.

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Copyright Bob Staake, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

The tiny book turns out to be the perfect pet—it doesn’t need food or water, its cover never sheds or hides fleas, it never needs a bath, and best of all there’s no housebreaking required. The boy takes his pet for walks in the evening, finding it superior to dogs that yap and run away and cats that constantly purr and lick their fur.

With his new pet, the boy’s days are full of adventure, fun, and excitement. He can’t wait to get home from school and spend time with the little book. But one day when he walks into his house, the boy discovers that his best friend is gone. “‘He ran away! He ran away!’ / The boy began to bleat. / ‘How could a pet book run away / Without a pair of feet?’”

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Copyright Bob Staake, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Soon the answer comes: “The maid could hear the crying boy. / (That sound was such a rarity.) / ‘I think I know what happened…’ (gulp) / ‘I gave your book to…charity.’” The boy and the maid race downtown to the thrift store, hoping to find the beloved book. They search through clothes, and furniture, through toys and shelves of books, but the little pet is nowhere to be found. There is only one conclusion—the book has just been sold!

The boy and maid sit down to cry, but then the maid has an idea. Maybe their pet is only hiding, Suddenly the boy remembers something that caught his eye in the dog-and-cat-stuff aisle. They race over to where a lone dog house sits. The boy says, “‘If I were just a scared pet book, / I’d likely sneak in here. / Perhaps the dark would help me hide, / And make me disappear!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-my-pet-book-searching-for-book

Copyright Bob Staake, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

He reaches in and discovers his pet book just waiting for him. The boy checks his pet over carefully and finds him well from cover to cover. The boy and the maid drive home relieved. Although they are tired, this crazy day has a happy ending, and now the boy and his pet have their own special story to share.

Perhaps Bob Staake is onto something in this humorous page-turner. Don’t we love our favorite books just like pets? And when they’re mysteriously missing, don’t we search and search for them? Through fast-paced and cleverly worded verses, Staake leads his readers on a jaunt of book love that includes love, excitement, companionship, suspense, and a happy ending. What more can you ask for from a book—or a pet?

Staake’s vibrant and whimsical illustrations create a world all its own yet rooted in the here and now. A bit surreal, a bit silly, the action-packed scenes will have kids giggling and searching for every detail.

For book lovers, pet lovers, and those who love a good story, My Pet Book is perfect for snuggling up with.

Ages 3 – 7

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014 | ISBN 978-0385373128

To learn more about Bob Staake and his writing as well as to view some pretty fantastic art, visit his website!

International Book Giving Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dog-bookmark-craft

 

 

Peppy Puppy Bookmark

 

This printable Peppy Puppy Bookmark is happy to hold your place while you’re away from your book! Grab some crayons or colored pencils and make your puppy your own. To let your puppy hang onto the page, cut around the toes of the top paws, leaving the top of the paws attached.

Picture Book Review

December 1 – Antarctica Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday marks a milestone in the search for peaceful and productive cooperation among nations. Commemorating the 1959 signing of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed by 12 countries and set aside nearly 10% of Earth “forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes….” Antarctica Day was established in 2010 and is now an annual event, with activities held within schools, science organizations, governmental organizations, and other institutions across more than 25 participating countries. According to the Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces, Antarctica Day is “an opportunity to demonstrate how diverse nations can work together peacefully, continuously using science as a global language of cooperation for decision making beyond national boundaries.”

Penguin Problems

Written by Jory John | Illustrated by Lane Smith

 

A little penguin lies flat out on a snow bank. It’s morning, which is “way too early.” To top it off his “beak is cold” and there’s a bunch of squawking coming from a hoard of other penguins nearby. As the penguin starts his day, he trudges through snow that’s deeper than it was yesterday, and the little guy doesn’t “even like the snow.” Ugh! The sun is too sunny, and the fish don’t even have the courtesy to jump out of the water into his beak! He has to wade into the freezing water where he just sinks like a stone.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-penguin-problems-snowed-last-night

Image copyright Lane Smith, text copyright Jory John, Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Down in the darkest depths he comes face to teeth with an orca. “Oh, great.” A leopard seal nips at his feet (“Oh, great.”), and a shark has his sharpened fangs ready to chomp (“Oh, great.”)! All that swimming around has left the poor penguin hungry and his flippers exhausted. He waddles up an iceberg to safety, but, ya know, that brings up something else—the penguin decides he waddles too much and thinks he looks “silly when he waddles.” What do you think? Look! He wobbles to the left; he wibbles to the right; he rocks back into place. “See?” Really, it would be so much better if he could fly—but those tiny wings just flap up and down ridiculously. Look! “See?”

And another thing: every other penguin looks exactly like him! And he looks just like every other penguin! Don’t think so? Watch—he thinks he sees someone he knows over there. “Mum?” Awww! That’s so sweet. I’ll bet he gets a big hug. Here it comes…: “I literally have no idea who you are.” Ouch! That does hurt! Wait! There’s his dad. Phew! This time he’ll get a chuck on the…umm…shoulder for sure. “I literally have no idea what you’re talking about. My name is Mortimer.” Yikes!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-penguin-problems-mom-and-dad

Image copyright Lane Smith, text copyright Jory John, Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

The little penguin gives vent to his feelings: “I have so many problems! And nobody even cares!” The penguin stands dejectedly under the full weight of his loneliness when he feels a tap on the…umm…shoulder. He turns to see a walrus behind him. “Good afternoon,” the walrus greets him. It seems that he has been watching, and he has a message, “I sense today has been difficult, but lo! Look around you, Penguin. Have you noticed the way the mountains are reflected in the ocean like a painting? Have you gazed up on the blue of that cloudless winter sky, my friend?”

The wise walrus goes on to point out the warmth of the sun and his adoring penguin brothers, sisters, and elders. He admits that there are challenges, and that all creatures face difficult times. “But hear me now, my new friend: I wouldn’t trade my life for any other, and I am quite sure you wouldn’t, either.” In fact, he suggests “you are exactly where you need to be.” With an abrupt goodbye the walrus flops his way back home across the snow.

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Image copyright Lane Smith, text copyright Jory John, Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

The penguin is flabbergasted by the audacity of a walrus trying to explain penguin problems. “Who the heck was that guy?! He exclaims to some nearby brothers, sisters, and elders. But he sighs and sits down in the shadow of the mountain and thinks. He does actually “love the mountains. And the ocean. And the sky.” He agrees that he has family and friends and has only one home. He sits on the top of a high snowbank and reflects on his life until night falls and the stars appear. But really…his “beak is cold.” And ya know? “It gets dark way too early.”

Jory John impeccably captures those days (weeks? months? …?) when the grumbles take over, and even the sun seems “too bright.” As one quibble builds on another, the wry grousing of the disgruntled penguin adds up to a sardonic comic routine that will make kids laugh out loud. The intervention of the walrus is likewise hilarious as he lectures the penguin at length like some old-age guru holding court. With perfect pitch John lets the penguin revel in life’s gifts for an hour or two before returning to his true nature.

Lane Smith’s penguin, at turns dumbfounded, resigned, self-conscious, rejected, flummoxed, and reflective, is so adorable readers cannot help but empathize. The small black-and-white figure of the penguin set against the pages of white snowdrifts highlights his singular dissatisfaction, while the softly mottled depictions of his underwater misadventure and escape, meeting with the garrulous walrus, and moment of contemplation enhance the humor.

Keeping Penguin Problems on any child’s bookshelf is the perfect remedy for days when the doldrums hit, a charm for days that are giggly, and a delight for any day in between.

Ages 3 – 8

Random House Books for Young People, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553513370

Discover more books by Jory John and what’s coming next on his website!

View a gallery of picture book illustration and other artwork by Lane Smith on his website!

Antarctica Day Activity

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Antarctic Animals Coloring Sheets

 

Antarctica is home to some of the world’s cutest and best-loved animals. Here are three printable coloring sheets for you to have fun with!

Emperor Penguin | Orca | Walrus and Pup

Picture Book Review

March 6 – Dentist’s Day

Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Most of us visit our dentist twice a year, but amid all the whirring and brushing and spitting do we thank them for keeping our teeth healthy? March 6 is recognized world-wide as a time to remember all the things dentists do to make our teeth stronger and our smile prettier.

Just Going to the Dentist

By Mercer Mayer

 

Little Critter needs to go to the dentist even though he doesn’t think he does. In the office the nurse gives Little Critter a big smile (he thinks she’s showing off her teeth) and asks him and his mom to wait. Little Critter sees a girl with braces and thinks they’re so neat that he wants some. While he waits, he plays with the toys and reads a book.

When the nurse calls Little Critter’s name, he goes off with her somewhat bravely to a room that looks like the inside of a spaceship, with its lights, monitors, tools, and the funny dentist chair. The hygienist cleans his teeth, which leads to the best part of the visit—spitting into the sink. After Little Critter’s X-rays are taken, the dentist examines his teeth. The dentist tells him he has one cavity. Little Critter gets a shot to numb his mouth, and before he knows it the cavity is filled!

Little Critter leaves the office with a free gift and, tuckered out from his adventure. sleeps on the ride home.

Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books are an excellent way to introduce children to the people and places that may at first seem scary or intimidating. Told from Little Critter’s point of view, this book can be comforting to children who may be wary of visiting the dentist as he voices opinions and questions that most kids probably have themselves. By giving Little Critter and his frog companion humorous comments and facial expressions, Mayer hits just the right tone.

Ages 3 – 7

Random House Books for Young Readers, New York, 2001 | ISBN 978-0307125835

Dentist’s Day Activity

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Smile for the Dentist Word Search

 

Dentists make our smile brighter with regular checkups and good advice. Can you find the words that help our teeth stay healthy? Have fun with this Smile for the Dentist Word Search! Solution included.