February 13 – Get a Different Name Day

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About the Holiday

It can be fun to try out new names or special nicknames in forming your identity. For those who are not so fond of their birth name, choosing a new name offers comfort, control, and happiness. Actors, writers, and other creative types sometimes change their name to something that is more memorable, easier to say, is flashier, or has more cred. To celebrate today’s holiday, try on a few different names. If you were going to change yours, what would you pick?

My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?

Written by Jennifer Fosberry | Illustrated by Mike Litwin

 

Mom opens her daughter’s bedroom door with a cheery “‘Good morning, Isabella. It’s time to get up and out of bed.’” But the little girl yawns and stretches and most emphatically states, “‘My name is not Isabella!’” Mom plays along, wondering who has then been sleeping here. “‘My name is Sally,’” Isabelle states, “‘The greatest, toughest astronaut there ever was!’” Having Sally Ride in the house is fine with Mom, as long as she puts on her space suit and comes down for breakfast.

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Image copyright Mike Litwin, 2010, text copyright Jennifer Fosberry, 2010. Courtesy of Sourcebook Jabberwocky.

When the little girl comes to the table, it seems she is no longer Sally. Hmmm… her mother says. She doesn’t know who will eat the delicious waffles she has made. Annie, the greatest, fastest sharpshooter, grabs the syrup and aims for her target.

Soon it’s time for school, but when the bus arrives, Annie is nowhere to be found. In her place is “‘Rosa, the greatest, bravest activist that ever was.’ ‘Well, Rosa’” her mother says, “‘March over there and take your seat on the bus.’” School ends, but the bus doesn’t drop off Rosa. Instead, the freshly made chocolate chip cookies will be enjoyed by “‘Marie, the greatest, smartest scientist who ever was.’”

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Image copyright Mike Litwin, 2010, text copyright Jennifer Fosberry, 2010. Courtesy of Sourcebook Jabberwocky.

Her mom is happy to see Marie and offers to get the cookies while Marie discovers the answers to her homework. Well, the cookies must fill Marie up, because when dinner rolls around, Elizabeth Blackwell shows up to set the table. At bath time, Elizabeth doesn’t feel like soaking in the relaxing bubbles, so she sends “‘Mommy, the greatest, sweetest mother who ever was,’” instead.

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Image copyright Mike Litwin, 2010. Courtesy of Sourcebook Jabberwocky.

With pajamas on and teeth brushed the “little girl climbed into bed, [and] the mother says, “‘Good night, Mommy.’” But Mommy is standing near the starlit window, so who is sleeping in the little girl’s bed? “‘Isabella, the sweetest, kindest, smartest, bravest, fastest, toughest, greatest girl that ever was.’” And as she sleeps, she “dreamed about who she would be tomorrow.”

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Image copyright Mike Litwin, 2010. Courtesy of Sourcebook Jabberwocky.

In Jennifer Fosberry’s inspiring story, it’s not that the little girl doesn’t want to be Isabella, it’s that she wants to be the best Isabella she can be. In thinking about her role in the world, she’s chosen to emulate five of the most amazing women the world has ever known—and that’s just on day one. Fosberry’s ending, with its view toward tomorrow, allows children to consider all of the influential women throughout history and working today as role models. Her inclusion of “Mommy” as one of Isabella’s heroines is a welcome tribute to the job of motherhood. After all, it’s clear from the way Isabella’s mother supports her daughter’s alter egos without a “Sally who? or a “Rosa who?” that she has taught Isabella about these “greatest” women. It’s just one lesson this mother—and all mothers—teach their children.

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Mike Litwin will enchant readers with his colorful illustrations of Isabella and her transformations. Whimsical details and even the way Isabella’s stuffed toy mouse changes into a real companion for Sally, Rosa, Annie, Marie, and Elizabeth mirrors the power of imagination and education in the formation of a child’s identity and the discovery of their particular talents. Isabella is adorable with her purple hair—just another proof of her individuality—and inspirational in her can-do attitude

Short biographies and portraits of Sally Ride, Rosa Parks, Annie Oakley, Marie Curie, and Elizabeth Blackwell follow the text.

A book that will charm as well as educate, My Name is Not Isabella is a classic that makes a great introduction to the women mentioned in the story and can spur further discovery for younger readers. It would be a welcome addition to home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010 | ISBN 978-1402243950

Discover more about Jennifer Fosberry and her books on her website.

Learn more about Mike Litwin, his books, and his art on his website.

Get a Different Name Day Activity

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First and Last Initials Bookends

 

You can show your pride in your name (or play with changing it) with this easy craft that will keep all your books tidy on their shelf! This makes a great gift too!

Supplies

  • Sturdy wooden letter blocks in the child’s first and last initials. Or, if the child would like to try on a new name or nickname, the first letter of their new name.
  • Chalkboard or acrylic paint
  • Colored chalk
  • Paint brush

 

Directions

  1. Paint the letters, let dry
  2. With the chalk write words that describe you or names of your heroines and/or heroes
  3. Display your bookends

Picture Book Review

July 5 – It’s National Culinary Arts Month

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About the Holiday

July is designated as a time to recognize the creativity and dedication of professional chefs and anyone who makes the world a more delicious place. The way to celebrate this month is a no-brainer! Visit your favorite restaurants, cafes, and bakeries—and discover new ones!

How to Bake a Book

By Ella Burfoot

 

A little girl decides to bake a book. She gathers her ingredients and begins: “I’ll break some ideas into a cup. / I’ll beat them, whisk them, mix them up.” To the dough she adds words both small and big then feelings, colors, and pictures for flavor. To set the scene she drops in “watery words,” choosing from “splish, splosh, splash, or sprinkle”—or would “glug and gurgle” or “squelch and twinkle” be better? She cuts out characters of all kinds and sets them aside to play.

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Image copyright Ella Burfoot, courtesy ellaburfoot.co.uk

With the dough set, the girl puts the lid on the bowl and waits while it rises. When it’s ready, she rolls it out, finding out what her story is all about. She lays the crust in the pan, letting her characters jump right in. Next she stirs up “the middle, the action, the filling” and adds a “spoonful of good and a pinch of bad” to get the pot bubbling and the plot to thicken.

A dash of good grammar finishes it up, and then the ending is pressed down tight. A cover design and a glaze of happiness are brushed on to make the book shine. Finally, the book is ready for baking. It comes out of the oven baked looking tasty. The little girl cuts a big slice and gets to reading her delicious book.

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Image copyright Ella Burfoot, courtesy ellaburfoot.co.uk

Ella Burfoot’s delightful recipe for writing a captivating book will enchant children who love to read and may spark an interest in writing a story themselves. The rhyme is as light and fun as chiffon and the homey ideas as satisfying as a warm chocolate cookie. Kids will love poring over Burfoot’s bright, colorful illustrations. The girl’s baked-up pages burst with dragons, knights, princesses, animals, kites, and more. There’s even a witch who’s having a tough time staying on her broom. The kitchen is a cook’s and crafter’s paradise with pantry shelves well stocked with jars of periods and capital letters among the monster flakes, alphabet spaghetti, porridge oats, and other writerly puns and ingredients.

A reading of How to Bake a Book would be a fun lead-in to getting out the pots, pans, and paper and creating an original recipe/story.

Ages 3 – 6

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2014 | ISBN 978-1492606512

To discover more books by Ella Burfoot visit her website!

National Culinary Arts Month Activity

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Don’t Whisk Losing Your Page Bookmark

 

The author’s of your favorite books have cooked up such fantastic stories that you don’t want to risk missing a word! To make sure that doesn’t happen, use this culinary-themed bookmark!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print your bookmark
  2. Glue it to the poster board
  3. Cut out the bookmark
  4. Slip it into the book you’re reading now!

Picture Book Review