September 28 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

As September winds down, there’s still time to feature one more new book for this month’s special holiday. Searching for and sharing new books—whether they are recently published or just new to you—is not only a fun way to spend a day together with kids, but an experience that pays big benefits now and in the future. Make a plan to add a few new books to your home library or visit your local library today!

Pony in the City

By Wendy Wahman

 

At the Pony Paddock, Otis met many children and he loved them all. He gobbled up the peppermints Dinah brought him, enjoyed having his mane brushed by Daniel, and “sprang to a gallop when Mel sang out, ‘Giddy-giddy-giddyup, Otis!’” While the kids got to see where Otis lived, Otis wondered about their lives. He “wanted to know… ‘do they gallop and kick? Do they nicker and neigh? Do they ever walk on all fours?’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pony-in-the-city-children-ride

Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

The other horses in the paddock—Mosey, Whinny, and Derby—just shook their manes, stamped their hooves, and snorted when Otis started asking his questions. But Otis couldn’t stop thinking about how things were on the other side of the fence. Did kids “graze on grass and daisies?” Were their “manes brushed and braided?” And how did they sleep? Did they wear cozy blankets and stand in stalls?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pony-in-the-city-many-questions

Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

One day, “saddled with questions,” Otis broke through his enclosure and headed into the city to find some children. He passed an apple orchard where he nibbled a snack, clip-clopped around a fountain, and said hello to some squirrels. He even walked by a group of horses dancing around and around to music. Suddenly, he saw them! The pasture was full of children! Everywhere, they were climbing and swinging and playing.

Otis hid behind trees and watched the kids “galloping and kicking. Nickering and neighing.” He even saw some “walking on all fours.” Otis followed a brother and sister home and was impressed with the sizes of the barns on the street. As he watched them eat their veggies at a table decorated with daisies, he realized they ate just like he did. Through the window of another barn, he saw a little girl having her mane brushed and braided, and a pair of baby twins standing in their stalls clutched their blankets and giggled to see Otis peeking at them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pony-in-the-city-in-the-park

Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Otis was getting tired; it was time to go back to Pony Paddock. He clippity-clopped down the street and turned the corner. Then he turned another corner. All the barns looked the same. He trotted down sidewalk after sidewalk, getting hungrier and farther away from home. Cars honked at Otis, headlights blinded him, doormen chased him away, and statues of lions and warriors frightened him. Finally, Otis was so exhausted that he lay down under a blanket of newspapers and fell asleep.

In the morning Otis heard “Clippity, clippity.” Could it be Mosey? He heard “Cloppity, cloppity.” Did Derby or Whinny come looking for him? No! It was Dinah, David, and Mel in their cleats on the way to soccer. They were so surprised to find their friend in the big city. “The children led Otis home with a song: ‘Giddy-giddy-giddyup, Otis!’” When they reached Pony Paddock, the three fed him, brushed him and tucked him in. But did Mosey, Derby, and Whinny let Otis sleep? No! They had so many questions…, and Otis answered them all “one by one. And then some.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pony-in-the-city-otis-can't-sleep

Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Wendy Wahman’s truly clever view of children through a pony’s eyes is sure to delight readers. As Otis thinks and wonders about the children who come to ride him, he only has his own experiences to use as reference. When he ventures out into the city, he discovers that he’s right. Wahman’s imaginative interpretation of a playground, meals, haircare, cribs, and even soccer cleats creates “Ah-ha!” moments of amusement while also spurring readers to insight about bigger issues of diversity and inclusion. With a deft wit, Wahman includes plenty of verbal and visual jokes, and puns.

Wahman’s art is always distinctive, and here her smart, sophisticated, and kid-pleasing illustrations are a treat. From the title page—where, while Otis passes a hat shop, his reflection dons a red chapeaux—to the dynamic playground scene, where all types of equestrian behavior are on display to the two-page-spread, lovey blue cityscapes that map out Otis’s route,  Wahman’s collage-style images create a vibrant world.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of wendywahman.com

Little details enrich the story and add humor that kids will love to point out: crime scene tape crisscrosses the fence where Otis broke through, a child uses a tree for hiding at the park, just as Otis does, and the babies have horse-themed mobiles above their cribs. Readers will also enjoy following the adorable families of cats and chickens from page to page.

Pony in the City is a cute, endearing ride of a story that will enchant children. The book would make a perfect gift, especially for horse lovers, and would be a favorite on home bookshelves.

Ages 3 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1454922322

You can view a portfolio of books and art by Wendy Wahman on her website!

Gallop on over to watch this Pony in the City book trailer!

Read a New Book Month Activitycelebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-horseshoe-bookend-craft

Horseshoe Bookend

 

Horseshoes carry a lot of luck, and it’s always a lucky day when you discover a new book! With this craft you can make a Horseshoe Bookend to keep all of your books neat and tidy and in their stall!

Supplies

  • Wooden decorative capital letter U sans serif, about 8 inches tall, available at craft stores
  • Gray craft paint (I used gunmetal gray metallic craft paint from Craft Smart)
  • Black craft paint
  • Decorative objects of your choice, such as stickers, charms, buttons, twine, glitter, etc. (I used red leather lacing, stickers, and small charms available at craft stores)
  • Paint brush or foam brush
  • Glue

 

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Directions

  1. Paint the letter U, let dry
  2. With the black paint, paint three or four small rectangles on each arm of the U to represent nail holes, let dry
  3. Attach your decorative objects on the front of the U with glue

Picture Book Review

May 17 – World Baking Day

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About the Holiday

This may be the most delicious day of the year! Established to share the enjoyment—and scrumptious results—of homemade breads, cookies, cakes, pies…. (Yum! I’m getting hungry just typing this sentence!) …World Baking Day encourages people to try their hand at mixing up a new or favorite recipe. As this is a worldwide holiday, you may consider baking something from another country or from your heritage. With so many cookbooks and online recipe sites available, it’s easy to find—and make—the perfect treat!

The Case of the Stinky Stench

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

 

The fridge is full and the denizens happy. Even former rivals Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are enjoying a sweet vacation together at the Marshmallow Coast. But wait! Who is that strange, half-moon shape rushing “past Trifle Tower” and “across Taco Bridge”? It’s none other than Sir French Toast’s nephew, Inspector Croissant, with a disturbing message. “‘Uncle,’ Croissant said, ‘the fridge is in trouble! / A horrible stench turned a whole shelf to rubble! / I’m the last hope, or the fridge will be lost! / Help me, or else we’ll be cooked, served, and sauced.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-case-of-the-stinky-stench-marshmallow-coast

Image copyright Brendan Kearney, text copyright Josh Funk. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

Just as he says this, the facts begin to stink for themselves, and French Toast pledges his help. It’s a do-or-die case for Croissant it seems, as he’s “solved zero cases since getting this job.” Lady Pancake decides the perp is Baron von Waffle and suggests the three pay him a visit. They quietly enter Onion Ring Cave, and Croissant confronts von Waffle. “‘What do you know about smells that are vicious?’ / ‘Nothing!’ said Waffle. ‘My home smells delicious.’” And he’s right; there’s nothing nose-worthy here. Lady Pancake, Sir French Toast and Inspector Croissant leave the cave only to find that the odor has worsened. They follow some tater tots playing nearby to a red curry dish, where an okra divulges an intriguing clue about “a stinky red fish / who lurks at the bottom of Corn Chowder Lake,’” but in his rush to investigate, Croissant trips “by Miss Steak” and goes flying.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, text copyright Josh Funk. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

Back on his feet, the intrepid detective and his side-kicks find a sardine-can boat and row across Corn Chowder Lake until they find the “red herring.” They’re convinced that they’ve “unraveled this stinky affair,” but rowing closer, they catch a tantalizing scent instead of a treacherous one. Lady Pancake is ready to give up, but not Inspector Croissant. He sticks his nose in the air and concludes that the smell hails from Casserole Cliff.

When they get to the cliff, they discover a shriveled up mess. The veggies are soft and the fruit a bit rotten, but Inspector Croissant sees the cause of the trouble—“a moldy old fruitcake from eight months ago!” The three are mulling how to get rid of this putrid pest when the fruitcake shares his story, which is all too familiar. The cake confesses that he came to the fridge as a fresh, yummy treat but was left there uneaten to mold and to reek.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-case-of-the-stinky-stench-tater-tots

Image copyright Brendan Kearney, text copyright Josh Funk. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

The inspector understands a few things about food, and as he leads the sad culprit away from the cliff, he explains, “Everyone knows fruitcakes never go stale.” With careful trimming they clean up the cake. Soon the fruitcake is back to his delectable self and has attracted the attention of softhearted Miss Brie while the other foods welcome him back with good cheer and a party to boot.

With the case solved, kids are invited to join the swingingest party in town. As “Spuddy Holly and the Croquettes,” fill the fridge with music, the residents jiggle, wiggle, and dance with abandon across a two-page spread. A fold-down page presents a map that lets readers follow the action from Taco Bridge to Onion Ring Cave to Casserole Cliff and all the stops in between.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-case-of-the-stinky-stench-onion-cave

Image copyright Brendan Kearney, text copyright Josh Funk. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

Just reading the first line of The Case of the Stinky Stench with its familiar, exuberant rhythm, I caught a smile creeping across my face as I anticipated the story to come. This sequel to Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast is a cool, fresh take on the mystery genre for little detectives in the—dare I say?—baking. The most delicious part of The Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series is Funk’s freewheeling imagination that comes to fruition in the expanse of that well-stocked refrigerator’s shelves. Clever rhymes, laugh-inducing puns, a whole stew—I mean slew—of fantastic words, and even a red herring await readers. Of course, old nemesis Baron von Waffle makes an appearance, and the introduction of the forgotten fruitcake shows kids that everyone deserves a second chance.

Brendan Kearney recreates the magic of this chef’s-delight of a refrigerator in full, vivid color and with the most adorable foods ever. Pink and white marshmallows, half-moon tacos, muffins, candy, cookies, and gummy bears all wear cute smiles, as they help Inspector Croissant. Even when the odor becomes overwhelming, the bottles, jars, fruit, and veggies sport endearing frowns. Rambunctious tater tots, hot chili peppers, and a steak-and-fries combo, join the fun. Kids will find ingenious details and visual jokes on every page, and will wish their refrigerators were half as exciting as the home of Lady Pancake and French Toast.

Ages 5 – 8

Sterling Children’s Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1454919605

Discover the world of Josh Funk, his books, and activities for kids on his website!

View a gallery of illustration work and books by Brendan Kearney on his website!

It’s no mystery that you’ll enjoy The Case of the Stinky Stench book trailer!

World Baking Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cinnamon-croissants

Bite-size Cinnamon Croissants

 

These mini cinnamon croissants are the perfect accompaniment to cup of tea and a great story! And they’re so easy that kids will love making them as much as they enjoy eating them!

Supplies

  • Tube of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Knife

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, or to the temperature on the package of crescent rolls
  2. Open the tube of crescent rolls and lay them on a cutting board. Do Not separate the rolls
  3. With the rolling pin, roll the dough until it makes one sheet
  4. Measure ¼ cup sugar into the mixing bowl
  5. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or desired amount) to the sugar and stir together until well mixed
  6. Spread a layer of butter over the surface of the dough
  7. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar across the dough. Use more or less depending on how much cinnamon flavor you like
  8. Cut the dough into triangles about two to three inches wide at the base
  9. Roll the triangles up, starting at the base. Looser rolls make flakier croissants
  10. Place the croissants on a baking sheet and curve them into a crescent shape
  11. Bake the croissants at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes, or until golden on top
  12. Let cool
  13. Enjoy!

Picture Book Review

December 11 – International Mountain Day

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About the Holiday

Mountains are majestic! Towering over the landscape, they leave us awestruck with their beauty and mystery. Supporting unique wildlife, providing challenging personal achievement, and inspiring countless works of art, the mountains of the world received their own United Nations-sponsored holiday in 2003. Established so that we remember and honor the importance of mountains to the environment and cultures in which they’re found and to the world at large, International Mountain Day is a celebration we can all support.

She’ll Be Coming UP the Mountain

Written by Kim Norman | Illustrated by Liza Woodruff

 

Moose and her pals are sprucing up the place in anticipation of Polar Bear’s return home. They know that “she’ll be coming up the mountain when she comes,” and are sure “She’ll enjoy our frozen fountain when she comes.” In addition to sweeping and dusting, the crew are planning a special welcome, and can’t wait for her arrival because “when she gets here she’ll discover / just how much we really love her / in a banner strung along the cabin wall.”

It seems that even though Polar Bear was away for a long time, no one forgot her. During her absence her friends sent her poems and hand-knitted sweaters, and now that she is coming back even the narwhals and gulls will come to cheer. Even if their “teeth begin to chatter / not a bit of it will matter when she comes.” Then they’ll throw “an arctic party when she comes. / We’ll play music, tapping icicles and drums. / Everybody will be clapping / while the caribou is rapping. / Not a creature will be napping when she comes.”

And, boy, do these guys know how to plan a homecoming! Out in the bay the kayakers will be paddling in formation, the whales will be spouting, and everyone else will be shouting when they see Polar Bear. There will be gifts galore, “high ones, twos, and fives,” a daring ski-slope salute, and plenty of “cheesy” pictures to document it all. As the moment arrives the anxious friends send out a message to which Polar Bear instantly sends an intriguing reply that they that they won’t believe their eyes. Before the waiting group can decide whether to “send our fastest skier, / who will be the first to see her, / and can tell us what will be her big surprise?,” they hear snuffling in the snow. Then suddenly over a snowbank they see her! They cheer and run to meet her and then they all tumble into the house—Polar Bear and her cubs!

Kim Norman has taken the buoyant song “She’ll Be Coming ‘round the Mountain When She Comes” and turned it into a joyful tribute to friendship that will have kids tapping their toes and bouncing along. The sweet story, strict rhythm, and well-known rhyme scheme allow for a mountain of laughs as the welcome-home party grows for the return of a favorite friend. Norman infuses her story with so many details and such enthusiasm that readers can’t help but get excited too. The final revelation that Polar Bear is bringing a surprise will have kids cheering along when they discover Polar Bear has new cubs.

Liza Woodruff’s vibrant illustrations exuberantly depict the preparations and plans the friends have for Polar Bear’s return. Kids will love lingering over Woodruff’s brightly colored and action-packed pages to catch all the details of the coming party. The animals’ camaraderie as they clean together, help deer knit a sweater, practice their welcome activities and especially imagine being together again is heartfelt and infectious. Readers will be glad they too are standing on the front porch looking for the first sight of Polar Bear and are invited inside the cozy cabin for the surprise party.

She’ll Be Coming UP the Mountain is a book full of fun that you’ll probably find yourself singing instead of reading—much to everyone’s delight! For boisterous story times, as a take-along on vacations, or for any time when happiness is the order of the day, this book is a perfect addition to kids’ bookshelves.

Ages 3 – 8

Sterling Children’s Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1454916109

To learn more about Kim Norman and her other books as well as find fun activities, visit her website!

Discover a portfolio of artwork by Liza Woodruff on her website!

International Mountain Day Activity

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Mountain Landscape Coloring Page

 

Grab your pencils and crayons and create a beautiful scene with this printable Mountain Landscape Coloring Page.

November 28 – National French Toast Day

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

French toast is special breakfast treat that has been enjoyed at least as far back as the 4th century, and according to an ancient Latin recipe has always been made in the same way. While the recipe—bread dipped in egg and fried, then topped with syrup, fruit, or (my particular favorite) cinnamon sugar—may have stayed the same, this delicious concoction has gone by many names. Whether you call it French toast, eggy bread, poor knight’s pudding, German toast, Bombay toast, or pain perdu, though, you know what to do on today’s holiday!

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

 

You know those strange noises you sometimes hear coming from your refrigerator? And how you could have sworn the leftovers were on the top shelf? Well, Josh Funk’s Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast may solve those mysteries and more in this rambunctious tale about what happens when relationships grow frosty.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, text copyright Josh Funk. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books

One day Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are hanging out at the back of the fridge when they learn the syrup is almost gone. Lady Pancake claims it as her own, but Sir French Toast replies, “Not if I get there first!” And so off they race! “Through Broccoli Forest, past Orange Juice Fountain, they climbed to the top of Potato Mash Mountain.” But the race takes a turn as the two meet obstacles that are no fun at all: at the edge of a shelf “Toast couldn’t quite stop, plummeting down into jam with a plop.” And “Chili Lagoon slathered Pancake in muck and then at a fork in the road she got stuck.”

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, text copyright Josh Funk. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books

 

The one-time friends call each other names and taunt each other with boasts of being the best breakfast food. As their competition upends the peace of the whole refrigerator from shelf to shelf, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast find their energy wilting, and by the time they reach that sweet sought-after prize, they are “battered and soggy, exhausted and crumbling, too tired to push, they were limping and stumbling.”

With the bottle in sight, they are shocked to discover that the last drop of syrup is already gone. Who could have done this dastardly deed? None other than the sneaky Baron Von Waffle! With nothing to gain, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast no longer have a reason to fight. In fact they realize that they lost out on the syrup because they were fighting. When they see that there is a little butter left, they decide to use the lesson they learned and share it.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books

There are so many fantastic rhymes in this book that kids will want to hear again and again. One of my favorites comes as Sir French Toast catches up to Lady Pancake: “He scraped himself off and yelled up, / ‘You’re a meanie!’ / as Pancake rappelled / down a rope of linguini.” With such laugh-inducing verses, kids may never look at food the same way again. Josh Funk has created a tale about friendship that is both boisterous and unique and sure to quickly become a favorite.

The refrigerator world as envisioned by Brendan Kearney is as colorful as the food rainbow and as active as a playground in summer. It’s also stacked with the cutest array of legumes, yogurt, cake, juices, fruit, and veggies you’ll find anywhere. The final fold-down page of the entire refrigerator is a delight that kids of all ages will want to linger over even after the story of The Great Race between Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast is over.

Ages 5 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1454914044

Visit Josh Funk’s Website to download a free Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast Activity Kit and to learn about more upcoming titles!

Discover more art and books by Brendan Kearney on his website!

Watch the trailer for this amazing race – you’ll be singing the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast theme song in no time!

Love Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast? You butter get ready for more fun with their next adventure: The Case of the Stinky Stench, coming in May 2017!

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National French Toast Day Activity 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lady-pancake-and-sir-french-toast

Sweet as Syrup Figure

 

Fun shouldn’t be kept bottled up! Well…maybe just this once. Make your own figure to display or play with from a syrup bottle with this craft. It’s sure to be as sweet as you are!

Supplies

  • Small plastic syrup bottle with a narrow squeeze fliptop and without a handle, empty
  • 1 ½-inch wooden ball with ½-inch hole in bottom
  • 16-inch to 18-inch square piece of cloth
  • Ribbon or strip of material
  • 12 to 14-inch long medium-gauge craft wire
  • Gel pens, black, blue, brown, red (Gel pens work well on the wood as the ink doesn’t bleed into the wood and are easy to control)
  • Poly fill or needle-felting wool
  • Scissors
  • Strong glue

CPB - Syrup Bottle Figure II

Directions

To prepare the bottle

  1. Remove labels from syrup bottle
  2. Cut the flip top in half, keeping the narrow nozzle part

To make the head

  1. Holding the wooden ball with the hole at the bottom, draw a face on the wooden ball with the gel pens
  2. Glue a small handful of poly fill or needle-felting wool to the top of the wooden ball for hair. You can make the hair has long, short, or poofy as you wish.

To make the dress

  1. Cut a 16-inch diameter circle from the material

To assemble the figure

  1. To make the arms, wrap the wire around the neck of the syrup bottle, crossing it in the back and pulling tight
  2. Center the material over the opening of the syrup bottle
  3. Cut tiny slits in the material at the location of the wire on each side of the bottle, and pull the arms through the material
  4. Bend the ends of the wire into a small loop to form hands
  5. Screw the cap with the narrow nozzle over the material
  6. Tie the ribbon or strip of material around the narrow part of the bottle to make the figure’s waist
  7. Place the hole in the wooden ball over the nozzle in the cap and glue into place

Make up your own story with your new figure!

Picture Book Review

June 26 – National Canoe Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-can-you-canoe?

About the Holiday

June is the perfect month to explore the great outdoors up close through camping. Whether you enjoy pitching a tent or renting a cabin, all the enjoyment of hiking, fishing, swimming, and of course toasting marshmallows and singing around the campfire await!

Can You Canoe? And Other Adventure Songs

Written by The Okee Dokee Brothers—Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing Illustrated by Brandon Reese

 

Is it possible to sing a picture book? It is when the book is Can You Canoe?! These twelve humorous, rip-roaring tunes take readers and singers deep into the fun of what it means to spend time enjoying nature. Wild animals, tall tales, legendary characters, and all the sounds and flavors of country livin’ are represented in these catchy original songs that will have you singing and laughing along in no time.

Through the Woods introduces the line-up with an apt question: “I’m wondering if you’d go wandering with me / Through the wilderness and woods / To where the winds are blowin’ free…” But even the speaker realizes there might be doubts—“You’re wondering if I go wandering with you / what kind of trouble we’ll get ourselves into. / Would it be wrong to tag along / With a band of vagabonds?”—and assuages them in the end.

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Jamboree takes readers to a country store where there’s dancing every Friday night to a song called “Jamboree” that’s played with abandon and just a little off key. But all you need is to “grab you a partner / And hold on tight / ‘Cause we ain’t stoppin’ / Until we see the light.”

In Black Bear Mama a couple learns there’s no arguing with a mother bear on the lookout for food for her cubs, and Echo Echoooo reassures that nothing, not even the widest valley, can keep true love apart. Can You Canoe? is a celebration of the simple life out on the water without distractions: “Can you canoe on a little boat built for two? Can You Canoe?…I wanna float down a river with you.”

Mr. & Mrs. Sippy can take you by surprise as this isn’t a tune about straws or baby cups. Instead, this is a rambling life story that starts like this: “Mr. and Mrs. Sippy / Got married in the fall. / They left the church that very same day / For their honeymoon in St. Paul, / Singin’ M-I-double-S-double-S-I-P-P-I / M-I-double-S-double-S-I-P-P-I. The couple roams on down to St. Louis to make themselves a home, then raises children in ‘good old Memphis Town.” When they have no place left to go, “they drift down past New Orleans / To the Gulf of Mexico.” Then you’re invited to sing the chorus backwards and forwards once again!

The Legend of Tall Talkin’ Sam echoes some of the great legends of the American West, such as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Samantha Rosie-Anna, aka Sam, was “born to a pioneer woman and a Rocky Mountain mountain man” and “come out ridin’ a panther and ropin’ a twister outta the sky.” Sam’s so big that when she sleeps under a blanket of snow, she lays her “hat down in Montana and my boots in Colorado.” But even though this girl is “half horse, half mountain lion and half grizzly bear,” she admits there are things she doesn’t know—“like how some little stream / Carved out one big ol’ canyon, / Or how a fire’s angry flame / Can be your best companion.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-can-you-canoe?

Can You Canoe? images courtesy of Brandon Reese (www.brandonreese.com)

Jackalope addresses one of the greatest American myths—that of a creature of mixed jack rabbit and antelope blood that roams the plains of the West. With tongue in cheek, the mysterious whereabouts of the Jackalope is exposed in the chorus: “Well I’ve seen ‘em in books and in taxidermy shops. / I’ve seen ‘em hangin’ on the wall. / But I ain’t never seen one in the livin’ light of day— / It’s almost like they don’t exist at all.” But the last verse reveals that perhaps this odd apparition has a purpose after all: “So when you’re searchin’ for the truth / And you’re at the end of your rope, / You might find you don’t need no proof / To believe in the thing that gives you hope— / And for me that’s the jackalope.”

These and a few other rollicking, gold-nugget songs will make any camp out—or even camp in—a knee-slappin’ good time. Can You Canoe comes with a CD so you can sing along to all your favorites—and I have no doubt each song will become a favorite in no time!

Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing have known each other all their lives and know a thing or two about adventures and how to make them more fun for friends and families. This Grammy-winning duo conjure up catchy tunes and compelling stories to make their songs unforgettable. These poems/songs have as much heart and wonder as a new frontier and invite readers and singers to explore!

Brandon Reese lends his distinctive talent to each song, creating animated scenes loaded with the kinds of details and drama kids love. Barefoot travelers with their packs on their backs and strong walking sticks in hand pad through woods populated with friendly wildlife. The country store is alive with animal musicians and dancers on the porch, on the roof, and hanging out every window while broadsides for Aunt Malady’s Snake Oil and No Itch Flea Powder hang on the walls. A cozier camping tent you’ll never find, and canoe paddlers are accompanied by a raccoon poling a crocodile boat while a rabbit floats along on the belly of a turtle. Each picture invokes the great outdoors in all its glory.

Can You Canoe is a must for any trip, whether you’re traveling far or just down the road!

Ages 4 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1454918035

National Canoe Day Activity

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Come Canoeing With Us Maze

 

These friends want to canoe together but first they must pick up little deer at the center of the lake. They need your help navigating their way in this printable Come Canoeing With Us maze! Here’s the Solution!

March 25 – International Waffle Day

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

When someone made a spelling error, turning the Swedish holiday “Our Lady’s Day” (Vårfrudagen) into Waffle Day (Våffeldagen), a brand new culinary celebration began! Waffle Day also ushers in spring and offers the perfect excuse to enjoy these crispy concoctions whether you like them sweet, with syrup or confectioner’s sugar, or savory, as a base for meat and other toppings. So mix up some batter and pull out your favorite waffle maker and enjoy a delicious day!

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

 

You know those strange noises you sometimes hear coming from your refrigerator? And how you could have sworn the leftovers were on the top shelf? Well, Josh Funk’s Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast may solve those mysteries and more in this rambunctious tale about what happens when relationships grow frosty.

One day Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are hanging out at the back of the fridge when they learn the syrup is almost gone. Lady Pancake claims it as her own, but Sir French Toast replies, “Not if I get there first!” And so off they race! “Through Broccoli Forest, past Orange Juice Fountain, they climbed to the top of Potato Mash Mountain.” But the race takes a turn as the two meet obstacles that are no fun at all: at the edge of a shelf “Toast couldn’t quite stop, plummeting down into jam with a plop.” And “Chili Lagoon slathered Pancake in muck and then at a fork in the road she got stuck.”

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The one-time friends call each other names and taunt each other with boasts of being the best breakfast food. As their competition upends the peace of the whole refrigerator from shelf to shelf, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast find their energy wilting, and by the time they reach that sweet sought-after prize, they are “battered and soggy, exhausted and crumbling, too tired to push, they were limping and stumbling.”

With the bottle in sight, they are shocked to discover that the last drop of syrup is already gone. Who could have done this dastardly deed? None other than the sneaky Baron Von Waffle! With nothing to gain, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast no longer have a reason to fight. In fact they realize that they lost out on the syrup because they were fighting. When they see that there is a little butter left, they decide to use the lesson they learned and share it.

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There are so many fantastic rhymes in this book that kids will want to hear again and again. One of my favorites comes as Sir French Toast catches up to Lady Pancake: “He scraped himself off and yelled up, / ‘You’re a meanie!’ / as Pancake rappelled / down a rope of linguini.” With such laugh-inducing verses, kids may never look at food the same way again. Josh Funk has created a tale about friendship that is both boisterous and unique and sure to quickly become a favorite.

The refrigerator world as envisioned by Brendan Kearney is as colorful as the food rainbow and as active as a playground in summer. It’s also stacked with the cutest array of legumes, yogurt, cake, juices, fruit, and veggies you’ll find anywhere. The final fold-down page of the entire refrigerator is a delight that kids of all ages will want to linger over even after the story of The Great Race between Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast is over.

Ages 5 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1454914044

Visit Josh Funk’s Website to download a free Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast Activity Kit and to learn about more upcoming titles!

Discover more art and books by Brendan Kearney on his website!

Watch the trailer for this amazing race – you’ll be singing the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast theme song in no time!

International Waffle Day Activity 

 

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Sweet as Syrup Figure

 

Fun shouldn’t be kept bottled up! Well…maybe just this once. Make your own figure to display or play with from a syrup bottle with this craft. It’s sure to be as sweet as you are!

Supplies

  • Small plastic syrup bottle with a narrow squeeze fliptop and without a handle, empty
  • 1 ½-inch wooden ball with ½-inch hole in bottom
  • 16-inch to 18-inch square piece of cloth
  • Ribbon or strip of material
  • 12 to 14-inch long medium-gauge craft wire
  • Gel pens, black, blue, brown, red (Gel pens work well on the wood as the ink doesn’t bleed into the wood and are easy to control)
  • Poly fill or needle-felting wool
  • Scissors
  • Strong glue

CPB - Syrup Bottle Figure II

Directions

To prepare the bottle

  1. Remove labels from syrup bottle
  2. Cut the flip top in half, keeping the narrow nozzle part

To make the head

  1. Holding the wooden ball with the hole at the bottom, draw a face on the wooden ball with the gel pens
  2. Glue a small handful of poly fill or needle-felting wool to the top of the wooden ball for hair. You can make the hair has long, short, or poofy as you wish.

To make the dress

  1. Cut a 16-inch diameter circle from the material

To assemble the figure

  1. To make the arms, wrap the wire around the neck of the syrup bottle, crossing it in the back and pulling tight
  2. Center the material over the opening of the syrup bottle
  3. Cut tiny slits in the material at the location of the wire on each side of the bottle, and pull the arms through the material
  4. Bend the ends of the wire into a small loop to form hands
  5. Screw the cap with the narrow nozzle over the material
  6. Tie the ribbon or strip of material around the narrow part of the bottle to make the figure’s waist
  7. Place the hole in the wooden ball over the nozzle in the cap and glue into place

Make up your own story with your new figure!