June 21 – Make Music Day

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About the Holiday

Make Music Day first rang out in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique. Celebrated by young and old, professional musicians and amateurs, the day invites all to make and share their music. People in more than 750 cities and towns in over 120 countries participate in this creative holiday.

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

Written by Susan Hood | Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

 

Ada Ríos is growing up in Cateura, a town built of trash as the main garbage dump for the capital city of Paraguay. Every morning the refuse trucks rumble into town to deposit their loads—1,500 tons of trash every day. The citizens of Cateura—gancheros or recyclers—go to work sifting through the mounds and tearing into bags looking for anything valuable enough to recycle or sell. Cardboard is worth 5 cents a pound, plastic 10 cents a pound.

Ada knows the landfill can hold surprises—“Her father, a ganchero, had found appliances, toys, perfumes, and antique watches.”—but she can never imagine what it holds for her. When Ada and her sister were little, their grandmother watched them while their parents worked. They loved to listen to music, to sing, and to learn stories of musicians and the sounds of different instruments. Ada fell in love with the violin.

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Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, text copyright Susan Hood. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

As the girls grow older and go to school, they venture farther into town, but there is little to fill their time. Many kids join gangs or get into fights. When Ada is 11 her grandmother signs her and her sister up for music lessons being offered by a new man in town named Favio Chávez. “Ada’s heart sang out” when she hears the news. On the first day ten children show up to play the five instruments available. But a bigger problem looms: the three guitars and two violins cannot be taken home for practicing as they are magnets for thieves. In Cateura a violin is worth more than a house.

But Favio Chávez has an idea. With help from Nicolás Gómez, a ganchero and carpenter, they pull bits and pieces from the landfill. An old broken drum and an X-ray film become a workable drum, water pipes become flutes, packing crates become guitars and violins, and oil drums become cellos. “Ada chose a violin made from an old paint can, an aluminum baking tray, a fork, and pieces of wooden crates. Worthless to thieves, it was invaluable to her. It was a violin of her very own.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ada's-violin-making-instruments

Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, text copyright Susan Hood. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The children practice tirelessly outside in 100-degree heat until the initial “screeches, twangs, and tweets hit all the right notes. Their class became ‘a small island’ where Chávez taught them to respect themselves and one another.” They become known as The Recycled Orchestra. Music now fills the air, adding a soundtrack of beauty to the grueling work. The orchestra is soon invited to play concerts in Cateura and the capital city of Asunción. When word spreads of their talent, the children receive offers to play from other cities and even other countries.

When Ada is 16 The Recycled Orchestra is invited to tour with a world-famous rock band. As Ada takes the stage in front of 35,000 people in Bogotá, Colombia, she is afraid, but the audience cheers for them and sings along as they play. On that night the children discover a new life. “Buried in the trash was music. And buried in themselves was something to be proud of.”

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Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, text copyright Susan Hood. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

An extensive author’s note plus a photograph of The Recycled Orchestra, lists of websites, videos and sources follow the text.

Ada’s Violin is also available in a Spanish edition—El violín de Ada: La Historia de la Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados del Paraguay.

Susan Hood has brought to light an incredible story of perseverance, hope, and the ability of music and other arts to provide opportunities and self-confidence that change lives. Told with unstinting honesty and sensitivity, Hood’s biography of Ada Ríos, Favio Chávez, and The Recycled Orchestra will inspire all who read it. The well-paced text offers revealing details on every page and flows with a lyrical quality that enhances the effect of the story and its impact. From the first sentence to the last, both children and adults will be riveted to The Recycled Orchestra.

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Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, text copyright Susan Hood. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Sally Wern Comport’s paintings beautifully capture the human spirit that shines through and drives people to astonishing achievements even in the most adverse conditions. With intricately created collages of rich hues, Comport depicts the town of Cateura and the mountains of trash the citizens work and play on. Warm lighting illuminates faces full of dreams and love. Readers will linger over depictions of the instruments workshop and cheer along with the concert audience as the children receive recognition. The full-bleed, two-page spreads echo the expanded world music gave to the children in the orchestra and the adults who heard them as music score confetti flutters throughout.

Both school classrooms and home libraries will benefit from the stirring message of Ada’s Violin.

Ages 4 and up

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481430951 (English edition); 978-1481466578 (Spanish edition)

Discover more about Susan Hood and her books, plus fun activities for kids and information for teachers and parents on her website!

View a gallery of Sally Wern Comport’s artwork on her website!

Make Music Day Activity

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Make Your Own Musical Instrument

 

Inspiration for sound can come from almost any object! Look around your house or classroom and discover the music in boxes, cans, blocks of wood, plastic egg cartons or deli containers, and more. Add string or wire for plucking, sticks for drumming, or beans for shaking. With a little glue, tape, or hardware and some creativity, you’ll be making your own rhythms in no time!

Supplies for the stringed instrument shown in the picture above

  • Tin can
  • Two small L brackets
  • Piece of wooden molding, 2 1/2 feet by 1 1/2 inches by 3/4 inches
  • Five small strips of wood to raise the wire off the neck of the instrument. I used long wooden fireplace matches cut into 1 1/2″ sections 
  • Thin wire
  • Small circular hook screw or regular screw
  • Two tacks
  • A nail, screw, or piece of wood that will fit horizontally in the mouth of the can
  • a small nail to make a hole in the can
  • Hammer
  • Strong Glue
  • Paint
  • Foam decorative dots

Directions

  1. Paint the wood and let dry
  2. Paint the small strips of wood and let dry
  3. Decorate the can with paint, sticker, duct tape, or paper
  4. With the hammer and small nail, make a hole in the center of the bottom of the can
  5. Wrap one end of the wire around the nail and glue so it is firmly in place
  6. Feed the other end of the wire through the hole in the bottom of the can
  7. Screw or glue two L brackets to one end of the wood molding so that the bottom of the L is flush with the bottom of the wood molding and there is space between the brackets. This makes the neck of the instrument
  8. Screw the circular or regular screw into the top, center of the wooden molding
  9. When the wooden match strips are dry, glue three match strips side-by-side 3 inches from the top of the molding. Glue two more match strips, one on top of the other on the center strip.
  10. When the L brackets are dry, glue them (and the neck of the instrument) to the can, making sure the brackets are on either side of the hole in the can. Make sure the wire is out of the hole. 
  11. When the brackets are firmly attached to the can, pull the wire to the top of the neck. Settle it in the center of the small pieces of wood, so that the wire is not touching the neck.
  12. Wrap the wire around the screw at the top of the molding until it is firmly in place and the wire is taut. 
  13. Secure the wire to the neck with the tacks
  14. Mark the “frets” with the foam dots

Picture Book Review

 

April 16 – Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day

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About the Holiday

Forget about Casual Friday, Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day offers much more in the way of comfort and coziness—as those who work from home well know! A little research on pajamas finds that the word derives from a Persian term for “leg garment.” Draw string pants were popular in Southwest Asia and were brought to the attention of other areas of the world by British colonials. The Western world adopted these comfy pants in the 1800s, and since then bed wear has become softer, more flexible, and more colorful. To celebrate today, wear your favorite jammies to work—and don’t forget your teddy bear!

Piggies in Pajamas

Written by Michelle Meadows | Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

It’s bedtime for the little piggies, but Papa isn’t home yet and Mama’s on the phone. So the five rambunctious kids find ways to spend the time. A peek into their room finds “Piggies in pajamas / jumping in the air / tossing up the pillows / popcorn in their hair.” The quadruple bunk beds make tall mountains to climb and perfect platforms for jumping into the ocean, but as the piggies dive onto the soft, pillow “water,” they hear Mama’s footsteps in the hall.

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The piggies “hurry to the tunnel. / Everybody, hide. / Underneath the covers, snuggle deep inside.” Soon all seems quiet, so they tiptoe from their beds to spy on Mama. They’re happy to see that she’s still occupied, leaving the tracks clear for the piggie train to toot, toot across the floor. But Mama, in her curlers, hears a suspicious sound and stomp, stomp, stomps upstairs.

Once more the five siblings rush to their beds and pull up the covers, their ears trained on any sound from downstairs. A familiar “crick, creak” tells them that Mama is now sitting down and chatting with Mrs. Cat. “Piggies in pajamas, / whirl around the room. / Cartwheels and somersaults— / Boom, Boom, Boom!” All that noise brings Mama stomp, stomp, stomping, but when she opens the piggies’ door, they’re all snuggled in and quiet as mice.

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

One sneaky eye watches Mama as she descends the stairs on her way to the kitchen for an evening snack. In moments, the little ones are up again and searching through the trunk for toys and cars and dress-up clothes. Just then at the window they hear a “scratch, scratch, tap, tap” and although it’s only a tree branch waving in the wind, the imagined wolf or fox or bear has left them shivering.

One by one, all in a line they grab their blankets and crawl down the hall to a new cozy bed. While Mama’s washing up her face, they cuddle in and start to snooze. Soon, “Mama sees their pink ears. / Tails are sticking out. / Mama climbs into bed and / kisses every snout. / ‘Good night, piggies!’”

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The little piggies in Michelle Meadow’s sweet story want to do the right thing, but it’s just so exciting to stay up late! Readers know how they feel and will giggle along as the piggies romp when Mama’s gone but fly into bed when they hear her stomps. Meadow’s jouncy rhyme captures the freewheeling antics of unsupervised kids, the delicious suspense of getting caught, and the endearing appeal for comfort when kids are scared or truly ready to drift into dreams.

Ard Hoyt’s energetic piggies know how to make the most of Mama’s inattention! Bouncing on the bed with their popcorn snack, climbing a rope made of sheets to the top of the bedpost “mountain,” and strutting down the hall in a piggie train, these five siblings are as cute as can be. Hoyt’s split pages show both the expressive siblings and Mama as they go about their nightly routines, acting and interacting on the sounds they hear. The soft colors, humorous details, and final spreads of the piglets in Mama’s bed, tell readers that despite all the shenanigans, this is a house full of love.

Piggies in Pajamas would quickly become a bedtime favorite and a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5

Simon & Schuster, 2013 | ISBN 978-1416949824

Discover more about Michelle Meadows and her books as well as teachers activities on her website!

You can learn more about Ard Hoyt and view a gallery of his books on his website!

Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day Activity

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Design Your Own Pajamas

Are pajama sleepers or tops and pants your favorites for bedtime? With this printable Design Your Own Pajamas coloring sheet, you can create jammies just the way you like them!

Picture Book Review

April 11 – National Library Workers Day

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About the Holiday

Held annually on the Tuesday of National Library Week, National Library Workers Day honors all of the staff across the country in libraries big and small. Librarians have a vast wealth of knowledge to help readers find just the right book, aid researchers in discovering the perfect resources, create engaging programs for children and adults, and keep up to date on publishing trends. Without libraries and librarians, our lives would be much less rich. Today, visit your library, check out a book or two, and thank your librarian!

Library Day

Written by Anne Rockwell | Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

 

On a particular Saturday a little boy makes his first trip to the library with his dad. Dad has a stack of books to return, and before the two go through the door, Don gets to drop the books in the return slot. First stop is the children’s room, where story hour is about to begin. While Don settles in, Dad heads for the grown-up shelves to look for a new book to borrow.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

There are already four children sitting in a circle around the librarian, Mrs. Edmonds. Don recognizes one of the boys from the playground and sits next to him. Mrs. Edmonds has chosen to read The Three Sillies today. Next, Mr. Miguel “reads a story from his homeland of Puerto Rico.” The story is about a donkey, and Don and the other kids laugh “when Mr. Miguel goes, ‘Hee-haw! Hee-haw!’ as loud as he can.”

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

After story hour, the other little boy, Jack, introduces himself and shows Don around the children’s room. There are shelves with movies and a rack full of magazines. Don especially likes the magazine about dogs and one about farm animals. Mr. Miguel notices that Don likes reading about nature and shows him a book about snakes. Don shows Mr. Miguel a book he also likes about a truck. “‘You can take them all home,’ Mr. Miguel says.”

Next to the picture book shelves, Don sees a baby “sitting on the floor with lots of books to read. Except the baby is reading her book upside down.” She burbles as she looks at and turns the pages, “but her book is still upside down.” By this time Jack has gone home, but Don continues to explore. Two bigger kids are playing chess, two girls are making bookmarks, and an older boy is working on the computer.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Don finds a comfortable chair and begins paging through the book on snakes. Just then a librarian sets a new book on the shelf next to him. It’s about apples and pumpkins—two things Don likes—so he grabs that one to take home too. When Dad comes back, Don shows him the four books he wants to check out. Sure! Dad says. “And then he says, ‘But you will need your own library card.’” Don is thrilled. “My own library card!” he thinks.

At the front desk, Don hands Mrs. Edmonds his books. To get his library card, Don tells her his name and address then waits “a few minutes while lights on her machine go on and off as it rumbles.” In a minute, Mrs. Edmonds hands him a card with his “own name written on the back.” Then Mrs. Edmonds scans his card and the books and tells Don the books are due in two weeks.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

As Don and his dad are leaving the library, they notice a poster for The Gingerbread Man Puppet Show. “‘Would you like to go see that puppet show next Saturday?’” Don’s dad asks. “‘I sure would!’” Don exclaims before taking his dad’s hand as they cross the street toward home.

Anne Rockwell’s gentle and engaging introduction to the library is full of the joy and wonder little ones have when visiting this favorite place. Her straightforward storytelling is both inviting and comforting as readers learn about the various spaces in a children’s room and the programs offered. Rockwell captures the excitement children feel in finding books that reflect their interests as well as the thrill of getting their own library card.

Lizzy Rockwell’s bright, colorful illustrations provide charming snapshots of a library children’s room that will delight readers. All the pleasures of a trip to the library are here, from making new friends to giggling during story time to discovering the wealth of fun things to do. After reading Library Day, kids will be eager to visit their local library!

Ages 3 – 8

Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481427326

Discover more about Anne Rockwell and her many books on her website!

View galleries of artwork and learn more about Lizzy Rockwell and her books on her website!

National Library Workers Day Activitycelebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mouse-with-books-coloring-page

Library Mouse Coloring Page

 

This mouse likes to read almost as much as you do! Print this Library Mouse Coloring Page and have fun!

Picture Book Review

March 31—Eiffel Tower Day

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About the Holiday

Today we say Ooh-La-La for one of the world’s most striking and recognizable monuments—the Eiffel Tower. The tower was erected in 1889 for the International Exhibition of Paris, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Construction took 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days. This iconic landmark was named for the chief engineer, Gustave Eiffel, and has inspired generations of locals and visitors alike.

Antoinette

Written by Kelly DiPucchio | Illustrated by Christian Robinson

 

On a day which seemed like most others, Mrs. Bulldog spied out the window at her puppies playing in the yard. Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette scrambled around, chasing each other back and forth. They darted through the door and dashed around the kitchen. They are always so energetic “and ridiculously cute, but please don’t tell them that.”

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Kelly DiPucchio. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

When Mrs. Bulldog looked at her children, she knew that each was special. The boys had already demonstrated some of their talents. “Bruno was strong, Rocky was clever, and Ricky was fast.” Antoinette was still pondering her unique talent, but her mother was not worried. “‘You have something extra special. I can feel it in my bones!’” she told her daughter, but Antoinette had some doubts.

“Every day the family went to the park to play with their doggy friends,” and this day was no different. When they got there, Antoinette was happy to see Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and especially Gaston. The puppies frolicked on the lawn, racing around after balls and butterflies and enjoying tasty biscuits. Suddenly, though, everyone noticed a problem. One of the puppies seemed to be missing!

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Kelly DiPucchio. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

The little ones lined up to be counted. There were Rocky, Ricky, Antoinette, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Gaston—but no Ooh-La-La! Mrs. Poodle was frantic, but Mrs. Bulldog reassured her. “‘We will find her!’ she insisted.” Clever Rocky followed some footprints he found in the mud, but they did not lead to Ooh-La-La. Ricky ran around the lake, but only found a family of ducks. With his super strength, Bruno checked under boulders, but Ooh-La-La was not hiding under any of them.

“In that moment Antoinette felt a tug in her heart and a twitch in her nose.” She followed the scent from sidewalk cafes to street vendors to sign posts. She hurried past “buggies and bicycles and broomsticks.” Nothing could deter her. Her nose led her to the Louvre, where Antoinette barked excitedly, but the guard would not let her through the door. In a dizzying dash, she wound round and around the guard, skirted past him, and sprinted into the museum.

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Kelly DiPucchio. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Antoinette scurried passed the crowds admiring the art and leaped to the top of a tall sculpture just in time “to save Ooh-La-La from a perilous fall” as she chased a butterfly. Mrs. Poodle was overwhelmed with gratitude. Mrs. Bulldog beamed with pride at her brave daughter, and the two shared a knowing look. Gaston looked on with a special smile of his own.

That is a story from long ago. Today, Antoinette and Gaston are raising a family of their own, and Antoinette is “one of the most famous police dogs ever to patrol the streets of Paris.” If you’d like, you can visit her statue in the park!

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Kelly DiPucchio. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Antoinette gets her own adventure and discovers her special talent in Kelly DiPucchio’s sequel to Gaston. With three bounding brothers, Antoinette feels a little lost in the shuffle, wondering when she’ll discover what she’s good at. Young readers with precocious siblings or friends will empathize with Antoinette’s feelings and be bolstered by her shining moment, which demonstrates that abilities often appear at the most unexpected—and crucial—times. The delightful ending provides a clever and satisfying answer to the story’s main question.

Christian Robinson’s jaunty illustrations of Antoinette and her brothers and friends will cheer fans of Gaston and enchant new readers. Kids will love following the bouncy puppies through the park, where an artist paints the fountain, a woman feeds the pigeons, and a man creates enormous bubbles to float in the air. As Antoinette races through Paris to find Ooh-La-La, readers can track her from page to page through the charming streets and finally to the Louve. Robinson’s soothing, muted blues, greens, and browns lend sophistication to this sweet blended family tale.

Antoinette is an adorable story that is sure to become a favorite of little ones. On its own or paired with Gaston, Antoinette would make a wonderful addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481457835

Discover more about Kelly DiPucchio and her books on her website!

Check out Christian Robinson’s books and learn more about him and his artwork on his website!

Eiffel Tower Day Activity

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Eiffel Tower Over Paris Coloring Page

 

Paris is a gorgeous city, full of color and light. Grab your pencils, markers, or crayons and enjoy this printable Eiffel Tower Over Paris Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

December 18 – Bake Cookies Day

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About the Holiday

Winter and the holiday season just doesn’t seem right without cookies. Baking those traditional morsels passed down from generation to generation makes the house smell yummy, creates family bonds, and provides delicious gifts for parties, neighbors, friends, and even you! To celebrate, bake up a batch or two of your favorite cookies, and discover fascinating facts in today’s book!

The Way the Cookie Crumbled

Written by Jody Jenson Shaffer | Illustrated by Kelly Kennedy

 

You might love lemon cookies, chomp chocolate chip cookies, and munch macaroons, but do you know where cookies came from or their perhaps less-than-delicious beginnings? Well, one of our fav snacks most likely got its start on a hot rock around 10,000 years ago. Ingenious farmers created a paste of wheat and water and baked this concoction by the heat of the sun. Convenient? Sure! Tasty? Maybe not so much.

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Image copyright Kelly Kennedy, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer. Courtesy of Simon Spotlight, Simon & Schuster

Fast forward to the 600s and the Persians began making improvements to the recipe. “They added things like eggs, butter, cream, fruit, honey, and eventually sugar. By this time hot rocks had been replaced by clay ovens. But the temperature was hard to determine, so “bakers dropped a bit of batter in them as a test.” While the batter went on to be used for cakes, these “tiny test cakes became treats themselves—what we would now call cookies.”

As time went by and people began traveling more, new ingredients, such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and powdered deer horns were introduced. Wait!…What? That’s right…ground up deer horns were used like baking powder and baking soda are used today to make baked goods rise. It wasn’t until 1850 that those conveniences came around; and not until the early 1900s that ovens and refrigerators made baking and storing foods easier.

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Image copyright Kelly Kennedy, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer. Courtesy of Simon Spotlight, Simon & Schuster

English and Dutch immigrants brought these hand-held treats to America, and while everyone enjoyed them, during the Revolutionary War Americans didn’t want anything to do with British things. This might have been when we adopted the word “cookie” instead of the English “biscuit.” Whatever they were called, though, they were still mostly made in home kitchens. That changed when a New York company imported machines to make crackers in factories and cookie companies followed suit.

But why are cookies so popular at this time of year? It seems that long, long ago, fruit and nuts were considered party food. I know, right? As time went on people rethought their party platters, and cookies won out. Even Queen Elizabeth I got in on the fun, having “gingerbread men made in the shape of her favorite advisors. Sweet!” Of course, she’s not the only famous person to get special cookies—how about that jolly old elf in the red suit? You’ll have to read the book to see how that tradition got started. Let’s just say that around the same time, another tradition took off—that of putting chocolate chips in cookie batter.

Of course cookies kept evolving by adding different flavors, changing shapes, including filling and in other ways. Today, stores shelves and bakeries are loaded with a vast variety of cookies, and home bakers are inventing new recipes all the time. Cookies are favorites the world over, and lucky for us they have a very bright future!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-way-the-cookie-crumbled-vendors

Image copyright Kelly Kennedy, text copyright Jody Jensen Shaffer. Courtesy of Simon Spotlight, Simon & Schuster

After becoming a “history of fun stuff expert on cookies,” readers can learn even more with pages dedicated to traditional cookies from around the world, the science behind baking cookies, and of course a recipe. There’s even a quiz so kids can test their newly acquired knowledge.

In her History of Fun Stuff: The Way the Cookie Crumbled early reader, Jody Jensen Shaffer introduces kids to the fascinating origins of one of their favorite snack foods. With tidbits sure to amaze and even raise giggles, Shaffer reveals not only the history of cookies, but facts on the development of cooking, the changes in baking methods, and the beginnings of automation. Her breezy, conversational style is perfectly aimed at her young audience, and the inclusion of facts on well-known favorites makes history relatable, relevant, and entertaining.

Kelly Kennedy infuses her cartoon-inspired illustrations with humor and realism to creatively depict the concepts in the text. Her full and half-page vibrant and dynamic scenes of people baking in various types of ovens, shopping for ingredients, selling cookies, and more excellently bridge the transition from picture books to chapter books for developing readers. Images of clay ovens, Colonial homes, early-model refrigerators, factory assembly lines, and others bring the text to life is ways that kids respond to.

For developing independent readers or as a read-to for kids interested in history, baking, and the origins of one of their favorite snacks, The Way the Cookie Crumbled dishes up a winning gift or addition to a child’s library.

Ages 6 – 8

Simon Spotlight, Simon & Schuster, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481461801

To learn more about Jody Jensen Shaffer and her other books, visit her blog!

A gallery of illustration work for kids and adults as well as video awaits at Kelly Kennedy’s website!

Bake Cookies Day Activity

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Bake up Fun! Coloring Pages

 

It’s fun to whip up a recipe together and then enjoy the results! With these two printable Bake up Fun! Coloring Pages, you can do both!

Boy and girl baking together | Delicious baked cookies

Picture Book Review

November 9 – National Aviation History Month

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About the Holiday

If you look back in history you see that people have always been fascinated with flight. The first kite was invented in 1000 BCE in China; around 400 BCE Archytas of Tarentum developed a steam-powered pigeon; and most people are familiar with the designs of flying machines the Leonardo de Vinci created in the late 1400s. An important discovery that led inventors in the right direction came in 1680 when an Italian mathematician determined that human muscles were incompatible with flight.

Zip ahead about 100 years and the first hot-air balloon flight was undertaken, which led to more and more complex technology, resulting in Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flight in 1903. From there, it seemed, the sky was the limit. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to complete a trans-Atlantic Ocean solo flight in 1932, and in 1947 Charles Yeager broke the sound barrier. But it’s astounding to think that from that modest 12-second first flight by the Wright Brothers to the first man in space—Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin—it took only 58 years! Today astronauts from countries around the world live and work in the International Space Station, and spacecraft are traversing deep space.

Wind Flyers

Written by Angela Johnson | Illustrated by Loren Long

 

With pride a young African-American boy tells the story of his great-great-uncle who was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II. His uncle was “a smooth wind flyer. A Tuskegee wind flyer…,” the boy says. He knows well his uncle’s history—how like a bird, his uncle believed he was born to fly. “With his arms flapping, he jumped off a chicken coop at the age of five,” and when he was only seven he soared from a lofty barn into a pile of hay. His first real flight came at the age of eleven, when he paid 75 cents to be a passenger with a barnstormer.

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Image copyright Loren Long, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Flying over lakes and fields, his uncle felt as if he were in Heaven, among clouds “like soft blankets, saying, ‘Come on in, get warm. Stay awhile and be a wind flyer too.’” The experience changed him forever. In fact he “cried when they landed because then he knew what it was like to go into the wind, against the wind, beyond the wind.” As a young adult his uncle contributed his dream and his skills to the World War II effort, becoming a Tuskegee Airman, one of the first black pilots in the United States military.

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Image copyright Loren Long, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

As the pair sit in the uncle’s barn, surrounded by his military uniform, leather jacket, and other memories of his flying career—after the war to continue flying he became a crop duster—the pair look through old photographs, seeing once more those young and brave pilots—the Tuskegee wind flyers. Planes are different now, Uncle says, but the clouds remain the same. The boy and his uncle climb to the highest point of the uncle’s barn to watch the jets—and in those moments they once more become the smooth wind flyers, flying into the wind and beyond.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wind-fliers-grandfather-and-grandson

Image copyright Loren Long, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

In her soaring, rhythmic language, Angela Johnson captures the dreams and yearning of a young boy whose greatest desire is to fly among the clouds. Her combination of straight narration with lyrical lines as he joins the Tuskegee Airman in World War II enhances the sense of achievement and pride the young pilots felt. The structure of the story is well chosen, as relating the uncle’s life from childhood through old age through the eyes of his nephew strengthens the themes of strong familial relationships as well as shared dreams across generations.

Loren Long gives Wind Flyers additional power with his strong, vibrant paintings. Two-page spreads provide a sense of the vastness of the skies that so enticed the young would-be pilot. Even the clouds echo the emotion of the page—fluffy, floating, and alive in the flight scenes while linear, flat, and stationary when the plane and the uncle are earthbound. Realistic portrayals of the boy, his uncle, and the other Tuskegee Airmen are reminiscent of the WPA murals of the 1940s while still setting this book firmly in today for a new generation.

Wind Flyers is a wonderful book to share with aviation buffsm budding historians, and dreamers of all types and would make a welcome thoughtful book for quiet story times.

Ages 4 – 9

Simon & Schuster Books for Young People, 2007 | ISBN 978-0689848797

To learn more about Angela Johnson‘s books for all ages, visit her website!

View a gallery of artwork for picture books and other media by Loren Long, visit his website!

National Aviation History Month Activity

CPB - Biplane side

Head in the Clouds Box Biplane

 

If you love airplanes and flying, you’ll have fun making your own plane from recycled materials! Use your creativity to decorate your plane while you imagine yourself flying through the clouds on a beautiful day. Younger children will have fun sharing this activity with an adult or older sibling too!

Supplies

  • Travel-size toothpaste box
  • 3 6-inch x 1/2-inch craft sticks
  • 2  2 1/2-inch x 7/8-inch mini craft sticks
  • 5 Round toothpicks, with points cut off
  • Paint in whatever colors you like for your design
  • 4 small buttons 
  • 2 mini buttons
  • Paint brushes
  • Strong glue or glue gun

CPB - Biplane front

Directions

  1. Empty toothpaste box
  2. Paint toothpaste box and decorate it
  3. Paint the craft sticks and 5 toothpicks
  4. Paint one small craft stick to be the propeller
  5. Let all objects dry

To assemble the biplane

  1. For the Bottom Wing – Glue one 6-inch-long craft stick to the bottom of the plane about 1 inch from the end of the box that is the front of the plane
  2. For the Top Wing – Glue the other 6-inch-long craft stick to the top of the plane about 1 inch from the front of the plane
  3. For the Tail – Glue one mini craft stick to the bottom of the box about ¾ inches from the end that is the back of the plane
  4. For the Vertical Rudder – Cut the end from one of the painted 6-inch-long craft sticks, glue this to the back of the box, placing it perpendicular against the edge and half-way between each side

CPB - Biplane bottom

To assemble the front wheels

  1. Cut 4 painted toothpicks to a length of ¾-inches long
  2. Cut one painted toothpick to a length of 1-inch long
  3. Glue 2 of the 3/4-inch toothpicks to the back of 1 button, the ends of the toothpicks on the button should be touching and the other end apart so the toothpicks form a V
  4. Repeat the above step for the other wheel
  5. Let the glue dry
  6. Glue the 1-inch long toothpick between the wheels at the center of each wheel to keep them together and give them stability. Let dry

To make the back wheel

  1. Cut two ¼-inch lengths of painted toothpick and glue them together. Let dry
  2. Glue two mini buttons together to form the back wheel. Let dry
  3. Glue the ¼-inch toothpicks to the mini buttons. Let dry
  4. Glue these to the bottom of the plane in the center of the box directly in front of and touching the tail

Display your biplane!

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review

September 22 – 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.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-strictly-no-elephants-new-friends

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—on both sides of this “elephant in the room” issue 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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-strictly-no-elephants-new-clubhouse

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 pets as cute and adaptable as these, which may lead to questions about why and how they could be excluded from the club. 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 African-American 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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Image copyright Celebrate Picture Books, 2016

Spool Elephant

 

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

Picture Book Review