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!

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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

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?

Picture Book Review

May 17 – World Baking Day

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About the Holiday

What would we do without those sweet and savory baked goods that make meal time and snack time so delicious. The art of baking is something that is universally enjoyed as each country and region has their own delicacies and special treats. Today’s holiday was established to celebrate all types of baked goods and encourage everyone to try this rewarding activity. To enjoy the day, learn about a baked good from another culture, try a new taste sensation, or find a new or old recipe and make yourself a treat!

The Way the Cookie Crumbled: The History of Fun Stuff

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!

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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!

World Baking Day Activity

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Bake Me a Puzzle! Word Search

 

Do  you know a recipe for fun? Finding the eighteen baking-related words in this printable puzzle!

Bake Me a Puzzle! Word Search | Bake Me a Puzzle! Solution

 

Picture Book Review

February 21 – It’s National Bird-Feeding Month

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About the Holiday

Spring comes early for our feathered friends. You may have noticed more bird activity in the past few weeks as birds get ready to build nests and mate. February can be a tough month for these little creatures, though. In some places snow still covers the ground, and the spring blooms that offer nutrition haven’t sprouted yet. To remedy this situation, in 1994 John Porter read a resolution into the United States’ Congressional record recognizing February as National Bird-Feeding Month. One-third of the American population have backyard feeders that provide the sustenance birds need to survive. To celebrate, if you have feeders make sure they are well stocked. If you don’t have a feeder in your yard, consider hanging one. Enjoying the beauty and songs of birds is a day brightener!

Warbler Wave

By April Pulley Sayre with Jeff Sayre

 

“In spring, as you nightly nap, / warblers flap / over oceans, lakes, / and mountains.” These tiny birds ride on streams of wind, navigating their way around buildings and towers and sharing space with bats, insects, and other birds. Then, nearly out of energy, they alight to rest and look for food.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

“They search. Stalk. / Wag. Walk. / So dainty, / these colorful diners.” They’re dots of color and intricate patterns among the leaves and “flit, like flying flowers.” They look and listen then dart to capture dinner. They are “crushers of caterpillars! / Slurpers of spiders!” Insects can hide from these clever hunters that know every nook and cranny to search.

And they’re not above nabbing a snack that a spider has so carefully wrapped. After a meal, “warblers sing. / Preen. / Scan the local scene.” But then as soon as nighttime falls, they’re off again, with miles to go until they reach their nesting grounds. Like good friends, they keep in touch with each other in the darkness as they fly “Surfing rivers of wind way up high…calling zeep, zeep, zeep in the sky.”

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Copyright April Pulley, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Following the lyrical text, an extensive discussion of the “Migration Marathon” warblers take each spring reveals fascinating facts about the birds, their instinct to migrate, and why and how they migrate as well as the role of science in recording warbler migration. For instance, warblers weigh no more than a couple of baby carrots, yet they fly hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles from their winter homes in the southern hemisphere to their summer homes in the northern United States and Canada.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Blackpoll warblers even undergo physical changes in preparation for their 4,000-mile journey taken three days at a time nonstop. And how do these tiny creatures find their way? They’re born with an innate knowledge of the direction they need to fly, and they navigate by the stars, the setting sun, and the earth’s magnetic field (which they may be able to see!). There’s much more to discover here, too, about the lovely warblers that may be flying through your area soon.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

April Pulley Sayre’s poetic narrative of the astounding migration warblers undertake every year is as bright and spry as her little subjects. Staccato sentences echo the birds’ quick, sure movements and alertness to the sounds and motions around them while longer passages flow with the rhythm of the birds in flight, soaring to the next stopping place and taking off again for home.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Gorgeous photographs of a fiery horizon and rising moon that invite warblers to the air each night open the book and lead to lush, close-up views of a variety of warblers in their regal colors and patterns. Their sharp eyes, attentive expressions, and perky personalities are on full display in their native habitat. As dusk descends once more over sea and forest, the warblers take wing while birdwatchers wait to see them.

For children who are bird lovers and for families who have backyard feeders or enjoy taking bird-watching walks, as well as for classroom science and story times, Warbler Wave is a beautiful addition to home, classroom, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 8 and up

Beach Lane Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481448291

To learn more about April Pulley Sayre her books, and her work, visit her website.

National Bird-Feeding Month Activity

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Pine Cone Bird Feeder

 

You don’t need a fancy bird feeder to help out the birds in your backyard. With a pine cone, birdseed, and a bit of peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening, you can make feeders that birds will flock to!

Supplies

  • Item to Cover, such as a pine cone, conical ice-cream cone, piece of toast or stale bread, bagel, paper towel or toilet paper tube
  • Peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening
  • Bird seed
  • String or wire for hanging
  • Large bowl or container
  • Knife for spreading

Directions

  1. Attach the string or wire to the item to be covered
  2. Cover the item with peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening
  3. Pour birdseed into a large bowl or container
  4. Roll the covered item in the birdseed until well covered
  5. Hang your homemade bird feeder!

Picture Book Review

September 6 – Read a Book Day

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About the Holiday

No, I didn’t forget what holiday it is today—the day is I Forgot Day! Today is the day to make up for all those missed opportunities and make amends for forgetting special events. Of course it may also be the perfect day to trot out that most-used excuse for not doing something—and get away with it! One thing you should not forget is to read today’s book!

We Forgot Brock!

By Carter Goodrich

 

Phillip and Brock are best friends. They have a wonderful time goofing around together, but other people just can’t understand. They call Brock Phillip’s “imaginary friend.” As if!… For example, at dinner when Phillip says Brock wants seconds, Phillip’s mom only pretends to put food on Brock’s plate, and often Phillip’s dad almost backs over Brock’s motorcycle in the driveway. Philip’s parents also just don’t see how funny Brock can be.

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Image copyright Carter Goodrich, 2015, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

One evening the whole family goes to the Big Fair. “‘Brock wants us to ride the Brain Shaker!’” says Phillip. But his parents won’t listen. “‘Tell Brock the Brain Shaker is a big kids’ ride,’” his dad says. At the fair Phillip and Brock ride the merry-go-round, the bumper cars, and the Tilt-A-Whirl. Phillip has cotton candy, but there are no beans and spaghetti snacks for Brock. Finally, Phillip begins to feel sleepy. But Brock? He’s riding the Brain Shaker!

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Image copyright Carter Goodrich, 2015, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

As the car pulls into the driveway, Phillip wakes up. “‘Where’s Brock?!’” he yells. Phillip runs into the house. No Brock. “‘We forgot Brock!’” Phillip sobs. “‘We Forgot Brock!’” Back at the fair Brock searches for Phillip from atop the Ferris wheel. Suddenly, a little girl asks him if he is okay. When Brock tells her he’s lost, she invites him to come home with her and her friend Princess Sparkle Dust.

Being at home with Anne and Princess Sparkle Dust is okay, but Brock misses Phillip. To cheer him up Anne and the Princess do magic tricks, and they all play games and tell each other stories. Meanwhile, Phillip is looking all over the neighborhood for Brock, but he’s nowhere to be found.

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Image copyright Carter Goodrich, 2015, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Both Brock and Phillip have almost given up hope of reuniting when… “‘BROCK!!!’” Phillip bumps into his friend on the street. Brock introduces Phillip to Anne and Princess Sparkle Dust and they all become fast friends. From then on “they spent all their time goofing around together. And everything was even better than before.”

Carter Goodrich’s story of friendship and imagination bursts with charm and heart and will enchant both kids and adults. Written in a conversational manner, Goodrich immediately engages with a child’s perspective while offering plenty for adults to appreciate in his adorable and hilarious illustrations. Brock, depicted as a black-and-white crayon drawing, is Phillip’s foil—tall, muscular, a little mysterious, a little fierce—while incorporating a child’s sweetness and silliness. Princess Sparkle Dust is similarly drawn in purple and white, complete with a heart-shaped face and a crown.

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Image copyright Carter Goodrich, 2015, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

 

Phillip, sporting a Superman costume and red cowboy boots, and Anne, wearing an angel dress complete with wings, everywhere they go are the embodiments of unselfconscious fantasy. Phillip’s parents share amused-but-loving glances even as they accept their son’s imaginary friend. Adults may laugh out loud at the illustration of Phillip rolling on the floor laughing at Brock’s funny antics while his parents watch the television news with a Keith Morrison look-alike anchorman. The softly lit and welcoming home environments as well as the vibrant, glowing Big Fair are everything a kid would dream them to be.

We Forgot Brock! is a book that will be remembered and asked for again and again, and is a must addition to any child’s library.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-1442480902

Visit Carter Goodrich’s Website to view a gallery of his work for other picture books and movies, such as Ratatouille, Despicable Me, and Brave, as well as cover art for “The New Yorker” and other publications.

Read a Book Day Activity

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Cute Puppy Bookmark

 

When you want to save your place or remember a favorite picture, it’s fun to have a friend to come back to. With this printable Cute Puppy Bookmark you’ll always have a 

August 26 – Women’s Equality Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday commemorates the date in 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granted women the right to vote. The observance of Women’s Equality Day also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality, including equal pay, equal opportunities for education and employment, freedom from discrimination and violence, and equal standing in all communities and situations. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Written by Debbie Levy | Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

 

Ruth Bader grew up during the 1940s in Brooklyn, New York’s multicultural neighborhood. It was a time when boys were educated for jobs and bright futures while girls were expected to marry and raise children. Ruth’s mother, Celia Amster Bader, however, “thought girls should also have the chance to make their mark on the world.” She introduced Ruth to books in which she discovered women who used their strength, courage, and intelligence to do big things.

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Image copyright Elizabeth Baddeley, text copyright Debbie Levy. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Ruth also saw and felt the sting of prejudice while growing up. Her family was Jewish, and at the time “hotels, restaurants, even entire neighborhoods” denied access to Jews, African Americans, Mexicans, and others. Ruth disagreed and never forgot. She was even discriminated against for being left-handed. In school she was instructed to write with her right hand, but her awkward penmanship earned a D. First, she cried; then she protested by only writing with her left hand—“it turned out she had quite nice handwriting!”

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Image copyright Elizabeth Baddeley, text copyright Debbie Levy. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

During elementary school, Ruth was outstanding in some classes, such as history and English, and did not do so well in others, such as sewing and cooking. Music, especially opera, was another favorite subject—even though she did not have the voice to match her dreams. She excelled in high school and was even chosen as a graduation speaker. But Ruth had been hiding the fact that her mother was very ill. The day before graduation, her mother died. Ruth did not go to her graduation, but she did fulfill her mother’s wish and entered college.

In college Ruth met Marty Ginsberg, and the two fell in love. They both decided to become lawyers to fight prejudice and unfairness in court. People thought this was a great idea for Marty, but disapproved of it for Ruth. “Ruth disapproved right back. So did Marty.” After college they got married, went to law school, and had a baby girl.

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Image copyright Elizabeth Baddeley, text copyright Debbie Levy. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

In law school Ruth was one of nine women in a class of 500. She worked hard and tied with another student as first in the class, but after graduation she couldn’t find a job. Employers objected because she was a woman, a mother, and Jewish. Finally, she found work with a judge. Her excellent work for him translated into jobs at one law school after another, and she became “one of the few female law professors in the whole country.”

All around her Ruth saw other women who were denied jobs or paid less than men. Women also had very little voice in courtrooms or in government. Rulings by the Supreme Court, the highest court in America, had helped maintain this inequality. The Court had stated that women were unfit for many jobs because of their “natural and proper timidity and delicacy.” Besides, the Supreme Court also said, “Woman has always been dependent upon man.”

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Image copyright Elizabeth Baddeley, text copyright Debbie Levy. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

“Ruth really, really disagreed with this!” So she began fighting in court for equal rights for women. But equal rights for women also meant equal rights for men: Ruth believed men should be able to stay home with children if they wanted to while women worked. “These were fresh ideas in the 1970s. Ruth did not win every case, but she won enough. With each victory, women and men and girls and boys enjoyed a little more equality.”

At home, Ruth’s own family agreed with her. Marty was a successful lawyer and also an accomplished chef who cooked the family’s meals. Ruth went on to become a well-known and well-respected lawyer. President Jimmy Carter asked her to be a judge in Washington DC. Then President Bill Clinton chose her to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. “Ruth agreed.”

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Image copyright Elizabeth Baddeley, text copyright Debbie Levy. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

“In 1993, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Jewish woman on the nation’s highest court.” When the nine justices decide a case, they listen to both sides and then vote. The winning side then writes an opinion explaining their ruling. When Justice Ginsburg votes with the winning side, she wears a special lace collar over her robe. When she does not agree with the ruling, she says, “I dissent” and writes an opinion explaining why. She has a special collar for dissenting too.

Some of her dissensions were influenced by her early experiences. She dissented when “the court wouldn’t help women or African Americans or immigrants who had been treated unfairly at work. She dissented when the court did not protect voting rights for all citizens. She dissented when the court disagreed with schools that offered African Americans a better chance to go to college.” And once when she dissented, Congress and the president agreed with her and overturned the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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Image copyright Elizabeth Baddeley, text copyright Debbie Levy. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now the oldest member of the Supreme Court. Some people think she should retire, but she disagrees. She still has work to do. Over the years, she has “cleared a path for people to follow in her footsteps—girls in college, women in law school, and everyone who wants to be treated without prejudice….Step by step, she has made a difference…one disagreement after another.”

An extensive Author’s Note about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life, notes on Supreme Court Cases, and a selected bibliography follow the text.

Debbie Levy’s outstanding biography allows readers to journey with Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her experiences and beliefs lay the foundation for her life’s work. Well-chosen anecdotes from Ginsburg’s childhood make her accessible to kids and may even inspire them to look toward their own futures. Ginsburg’s trajectory from college student to lawyer to judge and finally to the Supreme Court is balanced and uplifting, emphasizing the positive impact of persistence and self-confidence.

Elizabeth Baddeley’s illustrations go hand-in-hand with Levy’s text to fully illuminate the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg for children. Ginsburg’s intelligence, sense of humor, courage, and principles are evident as she matures from school girl to Supreme Court Justice. Dynamic typography highlights the theme of dissent and disagreement as a force for positive change. The color, expression, and spirit imbued in each page make I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark an exciting and eye-catching read for all children.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark is a superb and recommended book for girls and boys. The book’s focus on a woman who continues to make a difference will inspire children and even adult readers to speak up and act on their convictions.

Ages 5 – 9

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016

To learn more about Debbie Levy and her books for children and young adults, visit her website!

Discover a gallery of illustration by Elizabeth Baddeley on her website!

Women’s Equality Day Activity

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Rosie the Riveter Coloring Page

 

Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of strong women during World War II and continues to be an iconic figure today. Print and color this Rosie the Riveter Page then display it to always remember that women can do anything!

Picture Book Review

August 6 – National Sisters Day

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About the Holiday

If you have a sister—either through family or friendship, today is the day to celebrate her and your special relationship! Sisters tell secrets, do things together, laugh and commiserate together, and share a lifetime of love. If your sister lives close, why not plan a special outing today? If she lives far away, text or call and catch up!

Sister Day!

Written by Lisa Mantchev | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 

As Lizzie and her big sister, Jane, sit on a quilt watching the clouds, Lizzie tells how she loves that Jane has “the best imagination” and “can make up all kinds of things in her very own head.” Lizzie wants to play dress up, but Jane says, “not now.” How about telling a story? Jane can’t do that either because she’s going to her friend Emma’s house soon. “‘Maybe when you get home?’” Lizzie asks. “‘Maybe,’” says Jane.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Jane is gone all day. Night falls and still Jane isn’t home. Lizzie waits in the window seat and watches and watches. Finally, Jane is home! Lizzie shows her the fort she made using all the blankets. It will be perfect for telling stories under, but now Jane has to do her homework. “‘You’re always busy.’” Lizzie says. The next day the sisters look at the calendar. It’s almost full except for one Saturday. Suddenly, Lizzie has an idea for a wonderful surprise. She takes the pink crayon and “circles, circles, circles that Saturday.”

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

On Monday while Jane has soccer practice, Lizzie works on a dragon referee. On Tuesday instead of copying Jane’s jumps and twirls at ballet, Lizzie puts “tutus on sugarplum fairies.” On Wednesday during Jane’s piano lesson, Lizzie tunes up her imaginary orchestra. Thursday is karate day, and while Jane does her moves, Lizzie “sneaks, sneaks, sneaks to a quiet corner to finish up [her] surprise.” On Friday Jane goes to Emma’s again after school, and Lizzie gets help from Mom baking Jane’s favorite treat.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Early Saturday morning, Lizzie grabs her sketchbook, her scissors, and some tape. It takes an hour and the whole roll of tape to make the surprise. Then Lizzie goes to Jane’s room. She knocks on the door. When there’s no answer, Lizzie opens the door. Jane’s room is empty. Lizzie runs “downstairs, yelling, ‘Mom, have you seen Jane?’” When Lizzie enters the kitchen, she finds Jane “wearing a T-shirt covered in glittery glue.” She made them at Emma’s house, Jane says as she hands one to Lizzie. 

Lizzie puts it on and pulls Jane into the living room. Pictures and decorations cover the walls, and delicious cupcakes and drinks are on the table. “‘Surprise! I wrote you a story!’” Lizzie says. “‘Happy Sister Day!’” As Jane looks around, she tells Lizzie, “‘You didn’t just draw a story, Lizzie. You made a whole lot of magic.’” Lizzie hugs her big sister. “‘It runs in the family,’” she says.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sister-day-surprise

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Lisa Mantchev captures the happiness and disappointments of sibling relationships in her sweet story. In today’s busy family life, sisters—and brothers—don’t always get to spend as much time together as they might like. Mantchev reveals, however, that close bonds remain in the heart. Young readers will be enchanted by this loving sister duo and the surprise ending that shows a shared understanding and devotion between them. Sister Day! may inspire families to hold special sister and or brother days to let siblings connect and develop their unique relationship.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

In her beautiful, light illustrations, Sonia Sánchez replicates the positive, happy relationship between Lizzie and Jane. As each day brings a new activity for Jane, readers will recognize the reality of a younger sibling waiting for the older one to finish. As Lizzie uses this time to draw her story, children will see that even though Lizzie and Jane aren’t together, they are thinking of each other. Lizzie’s imagination is creatively shown through transparent fantasy creatures who keep Lizzie company during Jane’s absence. Sánchez’s lovely color palette and delicate, detailed drawings invite children to spend time with these best-friend sisters.

Sister Day! would make a wonderful gift and a charming addition to sisters’ home libraries

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481437950

Discover more about Lisa Mantchev and her books for children, young adults, and adults on her website!

National Sisters Day Activity

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Sisters are Forever Friends Coloring Page and Frame

 

Sisters are life-long friends! Show your sister how much you love her by printing out, coloring, and giving her this Sisters are Forever Friends Coloring Page. You can make it into a picture to hang with this printable Celebration Frame.

Picture Book Review

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.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ada's-violin-lessons

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-homemade-musical-instrument

 

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