September 18 – It’s Friendship Month

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About the Holiday

Do you have friends you haven’t seen or talked to in a while? Is there someone new at work or school who could use a friend to show them the ropes or grab lunch with? If so, this month’s holiday gives you the opportunity to reach out and say hi. Instituted a decade ago by the Oddfellows organization in the UK, Friendship Month is a super time to show kindness to those you know and those you don’t—yet!  

Superbuns! Kindness Is Her Superpower

By Diane Kredensor

 

Superbuns had everything she needed to be super kind: “listening ears, big caring eyes, [a] warm happy smile,” and a “huge heart.” While other people appreciated her kindness, her big sister Blossom was dismissive. To her, her little sister was just “Buns.” She didn’t possess any “real” superpowers like super strength, super speed, or the ability to leap over tall buildings. Still, Superbuns went around the neighborhood putting out the trash cans for an elderly lady, helping a younger bunny fly his kite, and offering an umbrella to someone just in the nick of time.

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Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

Blossom was a self-proclaimed know-it-all. She knew lots of facts, which she was happy to spout while she and Buns walked over to Grammy’s house with a freshly baked carrot cobbler. On the way, Superbuns complimented a little bunny’s smile, fed a fish who was enjoying a little sun on a windowsill, and helped a busy rabbit flip pancakes through an open window. She even made balloon animals for two bunnies. “Blossom thought all this kindness was slowing them down” and she didn’t want to deliver a cold cobbler to Grammy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-real-superpowers

Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

But Superbuns just couldn’t help herself. When Blossom (and the cobbler) was about to be splashed by a biker riding through a puddle, and when she needed help opening the grocery store door (because everyone knows you can’t eat cobbler without cold milk), Superbuns was there. In fact, Miss Fox was also entering the store, and Superbuns held the door for her too. Seeing this, Blossom had a tizzy. She screamed, slipped, and lost control of the cobbler.

Flat on her back, Blossom shouted for Buns to run. She knew “all about foxes. First she’ll gobble up the cobbler. Then she’ll gobble up us,” she cried. Miss Fox gazed at the dish of cobbler that had fallen into her hands and then at Superbuns who was cheerfully waving at her. “Here you go,” Miss Fox said, handing the cobbler to Buns.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-superbuns-kind-acts

Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

Turned out little Miss Fox wasn’t interested in gobbling up the cobbler or the bunnies. She just needed directions home because she was lost. Blossom couldn’t believe it. “Lost?” she asked. She grabbed Miss Fox by the hand and pulled her down the sidewalk with Superbuns and the cobbler in tow. Blossom, it seemed, knew “EVERYTHING about being lost.” She knew the most commonly lost items, where Bun’s lost homework had eventually been found, about the city of Atlantis and the colony of Roanoke, grammar and spelling facts about the word lost, and, of course, just how to get to Foxtrot Trail where Miss Fox lived.

When they finally stood outside Miss Fox’s house, Miss Fox gave Blossom a big hug and said, “Thanks for helping me not be lost, Superblossom.” Blossom smiled. “And just like that, Blossom learned she didn’t know everything about everything.” She even decided that kindness “was kind of… super.”

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Copyright Diane Kredensor, 2019, courtesy of Aladdin.

Diane Kredensor’s bouncy story of an irrepressible spirit will have readers convinced that kindness is indeed a superpower in a hop, skip, and a jump. As big sister Blossom leads the way through town nattering on about all the facts she knows and her opinion on kindness, Buns trails in her wake with her red cape fluttering and her eyes open for ways she can help. Kids will laugh at Blossom’s know-it-all persona and breathless recitations from her vast store of knowledge, but they’ll smile and “aww” as Superbuns springs into action all along their route. When they encounter Miss Fox, Blossom slips up in more ways than one and learns that you can’t always read a book by its cover or know everything about everything. As Blossom accepts a grateful hug from Miss Fox, kids will join Blossom in understanding that while knowing facts may be useful, knowing love is super.

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With her buck teeth, wide eyes, slightly goofy-but-always-ready grin, and superhero outfit, Superbuns is an endearing friend that kids will fall in love with. Kredensor, an Emmy award-winning director and producer of, creator of, and contributor to children’s programming across the network spectrum, fills her pages with all the charm of a favorite cartoon combined with the immersive details of animation. Her well-paced storytelling leading to the pratfall that changes Blossom’s perspective will keep readers rapt until the sweet ending.

Sure to be a hit during any story time, Superbuns! Kindness Is Her Superpower would be an often-asked-for addition to home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Aladdin, 2019 | ISBN 978-1481490689

To learn more about Diane Kredensor, her books, her animation work, and more, visit her website

Friendship Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-give-me-your-hand-puzzle-cutout-no-copyright

Give Me Your Hand! Interchangeable Puzzle

 

In this printable Give Me Your Hand! Puzzle, everyone is welcomed with a handshake. The interchangeable pieces can be mixed and matched as the animals become friends with one another. 

Supplies

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Directions

  1. Print the puzzle: to make the puzzle sturdier: Print on heavy stock paper or glue the page to poster board
  2. Color the pictures with colored pencils or crayons
  3. Cut the pieces apart
  4. Switch the pieces around to make many alternate pictures

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You can find Superbuns! Kindness Is Her Superpower 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!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-roary-the-lion-roars-too-loud-mommy

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-roary-the-lion-roars-too-loud-quiet-voice

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Match-the-Lions-activity

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

October 8 – It’s National Book Month

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About the Holiday

National Book Month celebrates the joys of books for all ages. Starting at birth, children reap tremendous benefits from being read to every day. Even before they can talk, babies love listening to stories and looking at bright, colorful illustrations. Reading with babies improves their language development, literacy development, their understanding of math concepts, and their recognition of emotions. Board books, with their smaller, chunky size and thick pages are perfect for the youngest readers and their parents, grandparents, and other caregivers to share! Board books make excellent gifts for baby showers and new babies as well as for other gift-giving occasions.

This week I’m thrilled 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!

The Itsy Bitsy School Bus

Written by Jeffrey Burton | illustrated by Sanja Rešček

 

It was a big day for itsy bitsy school bus! With a full backpack and a ready smile, the itsy bitsy bus was “dropped off at school, it was time to learn and play.” In the bright classroom with pictures, numbers, and a colorful table where all the students sit the teacher said hello and then  itsy bitsy bus read and played, drew and painted with new friends – pink car, little police car, and tiny cement truck. And what happened after school? “The itsy bitsy school bus asked to go back again.”

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Image copyright Sanja Rešček, 2018, text copyright Jeffrey Burton. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

A fun, school-time twist on the nursery rhyme “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” Jeffrey Burton’s sweet story for the preschool set is sure to charm the littlest students as they go off to school on their first day or want to relive the fun of the day at story time. For little ones who have not yet started school, the jaunty lilt of the story and upbeat activities shown will get them excited for when their turn does come. The story can be read and/or sung and invites kids to join in on subsequent readings.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-itsy-bitsy-school-bus-friends

Image copyright Sanja Rešček, 2018, text copyright Jeffrey Burton. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

Sanja Rešček’s first double-spread page lets little ones into the Bus family’s sunny kitchen with its car-motif tablecloth, healthy breakfast, and garage-sized door. Itsy bitsy bus rolls on out with backpack attached and zips down the road, first in line. The school has an equally wide door through which other vehicle families can be seen entering. Waving their tires, the little bus and Daddy say goodbye. The teacher, an orange beetle car, greets her new students and, after reading time, she shows them to the arts and crafts area where they all love making pictures of…themselves! When the final bell rings, the students file out to be picked up, but their smiles show that they’re ready to come back tomorrow.

Ages 2 – 4

Little Simon, 2018 | ISBN 978-1534416956

The Gift of Story Time Giveaway

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-give-the-gift-of-story-time-giveaway-picture

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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Sort the Straws

 

With a box of colorful plastic straws and a muffin tin, you can set up a sorting activity that will keep little ones happily busy. Talk with children about how they can sort the straws and why they choose that method.

To start: cut straws of different colors into various lengths. For younger children, use only two or three lengths. Older children may enjoy a more challenging activity with straws that are cut into lengths that are more difficult to distinguish.

To sort: children can sort straws by size, by color, or by any way that makes sense to them.

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You can find The Itsy Bitsy School Bus at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

October 2 – It’s National Pasta Month

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About the Holiday

This month-long holiday celebrates one of the world’s favorite foods. With over 600 different shapes and sizes, pasta offers a wealth of recipe choices, from fancy to plain to that can’t-live-without Mac n’ Cheese. Pasta—the Italian word for dough—has been part of people’s diets since ancient times and was introduced to America by Thomas Jefferson in 1789, when he brought the first pasta machine and a supply of macaroni back home from a trip to France. There’s only one way to enjoy this special culinary event—so get the pot boiling or head out to your fav Italian restaurant and eat up!

The Great Pasta Escape

Written by Miranda Paul | Illustrated by Javier Joaquin

 

The pasta was fresh. Oh! I don’t mean that way—I’m just sayin’ they were new to the world. They? Well, yeah—you’ll see. The pasta was…recently made at the factory, and they knew their place. Each type “stuck to their own kind” in their own boxes, and they never talked to one another or the people who worked the machines or the lines. “They didn’t mix, move, or mingle. They were very good noodles.”

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Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

They went from shelf to shipping carton thinking of the super places they would end up. For instance, the wagon wheel imagined a home on the range with some cool boots, a ten-gallon hat, and a horse. But one day a piece of fettuccine overheard two workers talking about lunch. One was going to have pasta salad and one had brought leftover Pho.

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Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Fettucine immediately called a meeting and expressed his fears (“Aaaaah! They’re going to EAT us!”), but the rest of the pasta thought this scenario was ridiculous. “‘Why would the humans make us, only to get rid of us?’” reasoned Bow Tie. Raman was getting tied up in knots, while Mac was trying to cool things down.

The Rotini gang believed Fettucine, though, and pointed everyone’s gaze in the direction of the directions on their boxes. All the pasta were aghast. Fettucine began crying, “‘Just cover me in Alfredo sauce now.’” While Ramen snarked, “‘You mean Afraid-o sauce.” Bow Tie tried the civilized approach to calm the situation, and chill Mac brought a more laid-back vibe to the scene.

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Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

They needed a plan. Fettucine suggested hiding; Bow Tie voted for a peaceful sit-in; and Ramen wanted a more forceful opposition. But Mac reminded them to meditate on that “super place we’ve been hearing and dreaming about.’” Rotini was all for action, and in a moment had drawn up a schematic that might work if they sacrificed the Ravioli. This idea did not sit well with the Ravioli or the Tortellini. Emotions began to boil over, and a fight broke out on the factory floor.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-great-pasta-escape-different-types-of-pasta

Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

All seemed lost until…an angel appeared with an ingenious proposal. Everyone stopped wrestling to watch the presentation she’d “cooked up.” It looked good. Spaghetti wrote some signs, and the rest of the pasta hung them in plain sight. The sign on the door announced that the factory was closed. The pasta machines were all “out of order,” and the cartons were all labeled to be shipped to “Super Awesome Island, Paradise.” Then the fettucine, the bow ties, the ramen, the spaghetti, the rotini, the ravioli, and all the rest went back to their own boxes and waited…until they found themselves “on vacation in a very super place.”

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Image copyright Javier Joaquin, 2017, text copyright Miranda Paul, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Miranda Paul dishes up a funny, dough-lightful story that will keep readers laughing while they noodle on the ideas of teamwork and friendship. Paul sprinkles plenty of puns throughout the pages while also stirring in more subtle humor based on each type of pasta’s shape or use in common recipes. The elbow macaroni is hip and calm befitting its use in Chili Mac, the bow tie is formal and mannerly, and it should come as no surprise that the rotini, with his spiral body, should come up with the most convoluted plan. When Angel Hair appears and unites the pasta in a successful bid to replace one “super” place with another, readers will see that by mixing it up and working together they can accomplish super things.

In his bold, colorful illustrations, Javier Joaquin provides each type of pasta with a distinct and expressive personality that readers will respond to. As the boxes of pasta sit on the factory shelf, waiting to be loaded into cartons, observant kids will see the heroes of the story hanging out in their respective packages. The vibrant dreams of each pasta stand in stark contrast to the sterile factory environment, spurring readers to cheer when their clever plan to escape comes true.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499804805

Discover more about Miranda Paul and her books on her website.

View a portfolio of illustration and graphic design work by Javier Joaquin on his website.

National Pasta Day Activity

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Noodle On This! Puzzle

 

Four pasta dishes are on the stove. Can you find which type of pasta goes to each container in this printable Noodle On This! Puzzle?

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You can find The Great Pasta Escape at these booksellers

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

 

Picture Book Review

September 26 – It’s Happy Cat Month

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About the Holiday

 Even though September is winding down, it’s never too late to make sure that your cat is happy. After all, a cat should be happy all the time, right? While this month offers opportunities to make sure that your cat is getting everything they need to be healthy, it’s also a good time to consider your cat’s social interactions. Do they have a stimulating environment to keep their minds sharp? Do they get to spend quality time with you? Do they have high perches and places to hide? Do they get enough exercise? All of these things engage the social needs of cats, who like to play and with and have the attention of their owners. To celebrate this month, think about your cat’s life from their perspective to ensure your cat is a happy cat.

Kitten and the Night Watchman

Written by John Sullivan | Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

 

On his way out the door, the night watchman “hugs his wife and children…and drives to work” as the sun is setting. As the sky darkens, he patrols the construction site once an hour. There’s a lot to do. He makes sure every door is locked, that the workshop is clear, and that no one is disturbing the vehicles or equipment.

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, 2018, text copyright John Sullivan, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

He rests for a moment with a hot cup of coffee under the twinkling stars and “thinks of his boy and girl, safe and asleep at home.” But the night watchman is not alone. A little gray kitten peeks out from behind a truck’s tire. The kitten approaches the night watchman and follows him as he continues his rounds through the yard, where “an excavator bows like a strange giraffe.”

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, 2018, text copyright John Sullivan, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

The kitten knows the night watchman will share his dinner before they are off on their rounds again. They see insects hovering in the light of the lamppost and hear birds call to each other. But when the night watchman goes back to his office and waits for the kitten to follow him through the door, “the kitten isn’t there. She is nowhere to be seen.” The night watchman hears a dog bark, cars roar, and the rattle of the train passing and worries.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kitten-and-the-night-watchman-checking

Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, 2018, text copyright John Sullivan, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

A moth flits around the desk lamp, and the night watchman gently carries it outside. When he opens the door, the little kitten is waiting for him. He picks her up and gives her a cuddle. Then it’s time again for their rounds. While the sun breaks on the horizon, the night watchman packs up his things to go home. As he drives through the wakening city, “this time he is not alone.” He talks to the kitten and tells her, “‘I know a boy and girl who will want to give you a name.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kitten-and-the-night-watchman-kitten

Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, 2018, text copyright John Sullivan, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Through his beautiful and emotionally resonant story, debut author John Sullivan lets kids follow along as a night watchman quietly makes his rounds during those midnight hours that are so mysterious and intriguing to young children. Sullivan’s lyrical phrasing, attention to nighttime creatures, and whimsical transformations of trucks, cranes, and backhoes create poetry and art from the concrete world of a construction site. The endearing relationship between the night watchman and the kitten makes the moment of suspense a tug at the heart, and its quick and loving resolution will charm young readers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kitten-and-the-night-watchman-driving-to-work

Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, 2018, text copyright John Sullivan, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Taeeun Yoo’s soft, textured illustrations envelop readers in fiery sunrises and sunsets, the lovely purple’s and blues of early evening, and the shadowy indigo of midnight. The darkness is broken here and there by the night watchman’s flashlight that throws a grainy and fading beam across the construction site, the full moon and blinking stars, lamplight, and the cozy lit windows of the watchman’s office. Standing silently silhouetted against this backdrop are the buildings and machinery of the construction site.

When the little kitten peeks from behind a truck tire, her little presence is surprising and endearing. An unseen—but heard—dog, speeding car, and rumbling train interrupt the calm night and disquiets the night watchman. Again, the kitten makes a surprising and endearing entrance. The little gray ball of fluff is another bright spot in the night—a friend to keep loneliness at bay—and as the sun rises, the promise of a sunny morning for the watchman’s children will delight readers.

Kitten and the Night Watchman is a quiet, poignant story that would be an often-read choice for home and classroom libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon and Schuster, A Paula Wiseman Book, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481461917

Discover more about Taeeun Yoo, her books, and her art on her website.

Happy Kitten Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wooden-bead-cat-craft

A Little Ball of Kitten

 

This happy little kitten is easy to make and can keep you company on your desk or shelf! Since every kitten is different, you can make yours to look just the way you want. Here’s how I made mine:

Supplies

  • Wooden ball with a flat bottom, available in craft stores and in different sizes
  • Craft paint in any color kitten you’d like (I used red and yellow and mixed it to make a mottled orange)
  • Craft paint in pink or white for the inner ear
  • Scrap of fleece for the ears. Fleece is easily shaped to the rounded ball and when painted is stiff enough to stand up on its own.
  • Thin, colored wire in several colors for the tail (string or twine, wrapped wire, fleece, stiff paper, and other materials could also be used)
  • Paint brush
  • Permanent marker for making the face
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden ball and let dry
  2. Paint the scrap of fleece to match the wooden ball, let dry
  3. Cut out small triangular shapes for the ears. Round the bottom of the ears slightly so they fit the shape of the ball
  4. If making a tail from several colors of thin wire, twist them together, leaving one end untwisted
  5. With the glue gun or strong glue attach the ears to the top of the head
  6. With the glue gun attach the tail to the back of the wooden ball in the center near the base
  7. With the marker, draw eyes, nose, and mouth for the face and semicircles near the bottom for the paws

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You can find Kitten and the Night Watchman at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 22 – National Elephant Appreciation Day

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About the Holiday

While today’s holiday was established in 1996 by Mission Media and its owner Wayne Hepburn because of Hepburn’s love for elephants, the day has garnered official recognition and deserves wide acknowledgement. These gentile, giant animals need our protection from environmental and human dangers. To celebrate today’s holiday visit a zoo or animal preserve, watch a documentary on elephants, or consider donating to their cause.

Strictly No Elephants

Written by Lisa Mantchev | Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

 

A little boy, his adorable pet elephant by his side, kneels on his bed and gazes out the window at the brownstones across the street. There he sees other kids with their—more conventional—pets: a bird, a cat, a fish, and dogs. “The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in,” the boy reveals. Every day the boy takes his elephant for a walk, but even in this common pet-owner activity, the boy and the elephant show their special relationship. The elephant is thoughtful—protecting the boy with an umbrella on rainy days—and the boy is considerate—carrying his elephant over cracks in the sidewalk that frighten it. Why? Because “that’s what friends do: lift each other over the cracks.”

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

On this particular day the boy winds a red scarf around his elephant’s neck and joins the parade of kids on their way to Number 17 where the Pet Club meets. The elephant is reluctant, but the boy is reassuring, even carrying his pet on his back the last few feet. “‘It’ll be fine,’” he says. But when they reach the apartment, there’s a sign on the door that reads “Strictly No Elephants.” There’s even a picture of a crossed out elephant on the sign.

The elephant understands all too well and leads the boy back onto the sidewalk, now ignoring the cracks. “‘That’s what friends do: brave the scary things for you,’” the boy says. The day has suddenly become rainy, and they are caught on the sidewalk without an umbrella. Taking shelter under an awning, the two find a little girl holding her pet skunk. “‘Did you try to go to the Pet Club meeting too?’” she asks. “‘Yes,’” the boy says, “‘But they don’t allow elephants.’”

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

While the sign may not explicitly forbid skunks, the little girl says that the other members didn’t want to play with her and her skunk either. Wisely, the boy tells her “‘They don’t know any better.’” The elephant reaches out its trunk toward the skunk with the girl’s reassurance that he doesn’t stink. The two new friends decide to start their own pet club and head down the sidewalk to find a venue. The boy makes sure that his elephant follows because friends “‘never leave anyone behind.’”

On the way the boy, girl, elephant, and skunk encounter a whole crowd of kids with unusual pets—a tiny giraffe, a mini narwhal, an armadillo, a bat, a hedgehog, and a penguin. They come to a park, complete with tree house, that is perfect for their club. The kids and pets eagerly adopt their new play space—swinging on the tire swing, waddling around the balcony, exploring the roof, playing tag, reading, and more. The boy quickly does the most important thing of all: he paints a new sign for the clubhouse door. “Strictly No Strangers, No Spoilsports ALL ARE WELCOME” it reads. And if you need directions to the club, the boy’s tiny elephant will give them to you “‘because that’s what friends do.’”

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Lisa Mantchev has written a story addressing the types of isolation and rejection that kids (and adults) can face—sometimes because of a single perceived difference—in an uplifting and productive way. With gentle honesty and thoughtfulness, Mantchev invites kids to consider their actions, attitudes, and responses to others. As Mantchev reveals, more inclusiveness leads to more understanding and better relationships. Her lyrical language and sweet reminders of “what friends do” elevate this tribute to camaraderie and companionship and make it a story kids will want to hear again and again.

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Taeeun Yoo’s adorable illustrations of the boy, his tiny pet elephant, and the other animal-and-owner pairs are irresistible. Any reader would want a pet as cute and adaptable as these, which leads to a good opportunity for adults and children to discuss the ideas of and attitudes behind exclusion in this story and in real life. As the boy and his elephant are turned away from the Pet Club door, the day turns dark and stormy. The two-page spread is rendered in somber shades, except for the little boy with his yellow-striped shirt and red scarf, the elephant sporting a matching red scarf, and the soon-to-be-met brown-skinned girl who wears a red and yellow-striped dress, emphasizing the connections between these two children. The final pages in which the new friends meet and play together are joyful, inviting all readers to “join the club.”

Strictly No Elephants gives readers so much to see, think about, and discuss. The book is a must for school and classroom libraries and would be a very welcome addition to children’s home bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster, 2015 | ISBN 978-1481416474

Discover Lisa Mantchev’s books for children, young adults, and adults on her website.

See a gallery of books by Taeeun Yoo on her website!

Elephant Appreciation Day Activity

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Spool Elephant and Baby

 

Who wouldn’t like a tiny elephant for a pet?! With this easy craft you can make your own little pal to keep you company.

Supplies

  • Printable Elephant Ears Template
  • 1¾-inch wooden spool with center hole, available at craft stores
  • ¾ -inch wooden spool with center hole, available at craft stores
  • Gray craft paint
  • Chunky gray yarn
  • Gray felt, 1 8 ½ x 11 piece
  • Paint brush
  • Black fine-tip marker
  • Hot glue gun or fabric glue

Directions

To Make the Ears

  1. Print the Elephant Ears Template
  2. Trace and cut out the large and small ears

To Make the Body

  1. Paint the spools with the gray paint, let dry
  2. Glue the tab on the ears to the body of the spool to secure, allowing the ears to stick out on either side of one flat end of the spools
  3. Wind the gray yarn back and forth around the spool, creating several layers of thickness
  4. When the body is as thick as you desire, cut the end and secure with glue

To Make the Trunk

  1. Cut a 2 x 4-inch piece of felt for the large elephant; 1/2 x 2-inch piece for small elephant
  2. Roll tightly and secure with glue
  3. Feed one end of the roll into the hole in the middle of the spool
  4. Cut to desired length

To Make the Tail

  1. Twist a small length of yarn and push it into the hole on the back of the spool
  2. With the marker draw eyes and a mouth on the face

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You can find Strictly No Elephants at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

May 23 – It’s National Smile Month and Interview with Erin Danielle Russell

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About the Holiday

First celebrated in Britain in 1977, this holiday has been embraced by other countries around the world. The aim of the holiday is to promote awareness of good oral health through teeth brushing and flossing, cutting down on sugary sweets, and seeing your dentist regularly. Healthy teeth lead to a bright smile, and smiles lead to feeling better and enjoying life more!

How to Trick the Tooth Fairy

Written by Erin Danielle Russell | Illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

 

Kaylee seemed born to pull pranks. Her eyes sparkled with mischief, she knew how to creep up on people unawares, she was cute and smart, and April Fool’s Day was her favorite holiday. There was never a time when Kaylee wasn’t pulling or planning pranks. But there was actually someone else who was a bigger trickster than Kaylee—the Tooth Fairy.

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Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

The Tooth Fairy, with her “smirky smile, fairy wings for a quick getaway”, and bag full of more tricks than teeth, was the reigning “prank princess.” But when the Tooth Fairy flew into Kaylee’s room to retrieve her tooth, she reached under the pillow and pulled out a… toy frog. There was only one thing for the Tooth Fairy to do—leave real frogs in her wake. For Kaylee, this meant “Game on!”

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Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

To make amends, Kaylee baked up a berry (and hot sauce) pie and gave the Tooth Fairy a piece. With her mouth on fire, the Tooth Fairy retaliated with an a la ice cream mess. Kaylee grabbed the sprayer to wash off the whipped cream and sprinkles but “turned it on the Tooth Fairy” instead. A wave of the Tooth Fairy’s wand turned those water droplets into cats and dogs. The sudden downpour scared Kaylee, and she ran for the closet. The Tooth Fairy hadn’t meant to scare Kaylee so she went to find her. Kaylee was ready with a slingshot and a wad of gum.

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Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Things got sticky, and in the battle, the Tooth Fairy’s magic wand split apart. “And if you know anything about tooth fairies, you know a broken wand means… Topsy-Turvy Tooth Fairy Trouble!” Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy cowered under the table as swirling clouds and lightning sent everything in the kitchen flying. When things settle down, Kaylee looked at the Tooth Fairy and the Tooth Fairy looked at Kaylee.

“Kaylee had one more trick up her pajama sleeve.” She and the Tooth Fairy used the sprayer to clean up the floor and the bubble gun to fix the wand. They sent the cats and dogs soaring back into the sky with little umbrellas and the frogs hopping happily into the yard. Soon the kitchen was shiny and neat again, and Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy shared fairy-dust cookies as Kaylee handed over her lost tooth. That night was just the beginning for “two prank princesses and one new friendship.”

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Image copyright Jennifer Hansen Rolli, 2018, text copyright Erin Danielle Russell, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Erin Danielle Russell’s talent for humor and creating feisty heroines is on full, fun display in her rollicking debut picture book. With her vivacious, conversational tone, Russell crafts the camaraderie of a sleepover even as the two pranksternistas try to outwit each other. After their tricks send them both ducking for cover, they discover that they’re kindred spirits and make perfect best friends.

From the glittery cover to the wild, action-packed pages, Jennifer Hansen Rolli conjures up delightfully designed trickery that will charm kids. Rolli sets the stage with examples of Kaylee’s early pranks on her sister and classmates (two of whom are appropriately wary of the chocolate sandwich cookies on offer, while an unsuspecting newcomer is all smiles). Rolli’s rich color pallet enhances the magical atmosphere,and images of a fully laden dessert table, puppies and kittens plummeting into the kitchen, and the Tooth Fairy stuck to the refrigerator with gum will make kids laugh out loud. While mischief is evident in both Kaylee’s and the Tooth Fairy’s eyes, it’s also clear that they understand and like each other, making their battle of wits a playful challenge.

Perfect for reading when a child has lost a tooth, How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is also an original friendship story for any time of year. Children will love keeping the book on hand for repeated readings when the Tooth Fairy is expected.

Ages 4 – 8

Aladdin, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481467322

Discover more about Erin Danielle Russell and her books on her How to Trick the Tooth Fairy website

To learn more about Jennifer Hansen Rolli, her books, and her art, visit her website.

This How to Trick the Tooth Fairy book trailer is sure to make smile!

Meet Erin Danielle Russell

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Erin Danielle Russell is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling Dork Diaries. How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is her first picture book. Today, I’m excited to talk with her about how How to Trick the Tooth Fairy came about, writing space, and her favorite pranks.

What inspired you to write How to Trick the Tooth Fairy?

How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is inspired by my childhood.  It’s a book I would’ve wanted to read as a child because I’d always wanted to meet the Tooth Fairy and become friends with her.  My character, Kaylee, is basically living my dream!

Can you talk a little about the journey to getting How to Trick the Tooth Fairy published?

Funny story, but the idea for How to Trick the Tooth Fairy came to me when was sick with the flu.  I was stuck in bed with nothing to do, so I wrote the first draft for fun in a notebook.  Later, I polished it, submitted it to my literary agent, found an amazing illustrator, named Jennifer Hansen Rolli, to bring my book to life, and the rest is history!

Losing that first tooth is such a rite of passage for kids, with celebrations at school and the fun surrounding the Tooth Fairy or other traditions at home. Do you remember losing your first tooth?

I do remember losing my first tooth and my first Tooth Fairy visit!  I was super excited to find money under my pillow where my tooth had been.  And, the best part was seeing the trail of glittery fairy dust across my bedroom floor!  It was solid evidence to me that the Tooth Fairy and magic were real, and I became a total Tooth Fairy fangirl after that!

Do you like to pull pranks? What was your favorite kind of prank?

I was a little prankster when I was Kaylee’s age, and owned a whoopee cushion, hand buzzer, invisible ink, and fake bugs. The whoopee cushion was my favorite!    

What’s the best part about being an author for young readers?

The best part about being an author for young readers is making them laugh and showing them that reading can be fun.  I’m a bookworm to this day because I fell in love with the picture books my parents read to me as a kid.  I hope I can inspire young readers to love books like I do.

What was your favorite picture book when you were a child?

There are so many wonderful picture books to choose from!  But, if I have to narrow it down to one, I’d say Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, because Harold could turn all his ideas into reality, and I wanted that ability too.  I even drew on my bedroom walls with a purple crayon to be like him, but that wasn’t such a good idea.  Lol!

Do you have a special place that you like to write? Can you describe it a little?

I’m not much of a desk person, so my favorite place to write is in my bed because it’s comfy and cozy.  I just prop up a few pillows, light a scented candle, and I’m in my happy writing place!

What’s up next for you?

I’m currently working on a second picture book and a middle grade book.  After writing How to Trick the Tooth Fairy, I’d love to write more fantasy.

What is your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Christmas.  I love the festivities, music, food and how magical it was for me as a child. 

Do you have an anecdote from any holiday that you’d like to share?

Some of my favorite Christmas memories revolve around picture books.  I loved reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  When I was eight, I even wrote and illustrated my own picture book in a spiral notebook about a girl, named Melody, who helped Santa Claus deliver Christmas presents all over the world on Christmas Eve.

Thanks so much for chatting! I wish you all the best with How to Trick the Tooth Fairy and all of your books!

You can connect with Erin Danielle Russell on

Official How to Trick the Tooth Fairy Website | Facebook | InstagramTwitter

National Smile Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Smile-for-the-tooth-fairy-mazeSmile for the Tooth Fairy! Maze

 

The Tooth Fairy is trying to collect a lost tooth! Can you help her find her way in this printable maze?

Smile for the Tooth Fairy! Maze | Smile for the Tooth Fairy! Maze Solution

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You can find How to Trick the Tooth Fairy at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review