November 5 – Job Action Day

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About the Holiday

Job Action Day was created in 2008 as a day for job seekers and employees to assess their career goals and take action to make them a reality. Today, experts across the web and in participating companies offer special seminars and training sessions to provide the latest in career advice. Today’s holiday, which is sponsored by LiveCareer, gives people a chance to reflect on what is most important in their life. Are you doing the job you’re passionate about? Are you bringing your passions to the job you are doing? If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with your position, take another look at your job and where it leads. It’s possible that new opportunities lie within your current job—you never know where a particular job will lead you until you put all your creativity, knowledge, and—most importantly—unique personality—into it. If your current job doesn’t offer these kinds of opportunities, today is a good day to polish that resume and begin a search for a better fit.

Business Pig

By Andrea Zuill

 

When Jelly Bean gave birth to five piglets at the Sunshine Sanctuary for Farm Animals, one was a standout. Dressed in a pinstripe suit and tie and drinking from a mug, he smiled at the farmer and two volunteers. “What kind of pig is that?” one volunteer asked. “Well, I believe what we have here is a gen-u-wine Business Pig,” the farmer answered. The little girl volunteer named him Jasper.

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Copyright Andrea Zuill, 2018, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Right from the start, Jasper didn’t like playing in the mud, and instead of rooting for grubs with his snout, he used a shovel. “Everyone at the sanctuary loved little Jasper. But that didn’t keep him from feeling out of place.” So the volunteers made him an office in the corner of the barn with a hay bale desk, a comfortable chair, and a computer. They gave him a job helping with the bookkeeping. When Jasper held a meeting, everyone came “to show their support.”

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Copyright Andrea Zuill, 2018, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

But when it came right down to it, some of the animals didn’t understand him. The chickens ignored his flow charts, “and the goat ate his business card.” And no one seemed to want him as a pet. Jasper decided to be proactive. He wrote articles for the newspaper touting the benefits of pigs as pets, he hung out billboards, and he tacked signs with pull-off tabs onto electrical posts. Then he waited.

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Copyright Andrea Zuill, 2018, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Soon a little girl carrying a briefcase visited the sanctuary. She studied Jasper’s flow charts, “wanted to exchange business cards with him,” and carefully read his résumé. Jasper was pleased with the interview, “but upper management had to be consulted.” Fortunately, the little girl’s mother was also impressed, and Jasper went home with his “perfect fit.”

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Copyright Andrea Zuill, 2018, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Andrea Zuill’s Jasper will make you swoon. Adorable doesn’t go far enough to describe the absolute perfect expressions on this piglet’s face as he meets the volunteers, sees his office for the first time, reacts to having his business card devoured, and with hope hands out his résumé. Jasper’s gestures are equally as endearing and will make readers’—kids and adults—hearts swell. Zuill’s story is humorous in its use of business jargon (Jasper is “smart, outgoing, proactive,” and enlists the help of his contacts), uplifting in the way the sanctuary’s volunteers and animals support the little pig, and emotionally resonant when this diminutive businessman is passed over for adoption. Kids will feel good all over when the piglet finally meets his perfect match and gets the “job” he’s been searching for.

With both laugh-out-loud and heartwarming moments, Business Pig would make a much-loved gift and addition to home, classroom, and library bookshelves that will be asked for again and again. 

Ages 3 – 7

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1454926849

Discover more about Andrea Zuill, her books, and her art on her website.

Job Action Day Activity

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Briefcase Craft

 

Every business kid needs a briefcase! With this easy-to-make craft and printable Dream Job Application, young talents will be taking the world by storm in no time!

Supplies

Directions

To Make the Body of the Briefcase

  1. Cut a rectangle of poster board in proportion to child’s size. Leave ½ inch on either side of the shorter cut to glue the briefcase together. The longer side should be double the height you’d like the finished briefcase to be. (My example was made from a 12-inch by 20-inch strip.)
  2. Fold the poster board in half
  3. Glue the side edges together

To Make the Handle

  1. Cut a narrow strip of poster board
  2. Fold the right side of the strip toward you and down, pinching it tight; repeat on the left side

Print out the Dream Job Application and fill it in!

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You can find Business Pig at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

October 23 – National Food Day

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About the Holiday

Established in 2011 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, today’s holiday encourages people to “eat real” by cutting down on sugar and processed food and choosing fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and sustainably raised proteins. While the work of education goes on all year around, today is marked by special events and festivals, some involving the nation’s top food activists.

Mission Defrostable (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast)

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

 

Events are getting curiouser and curiouser in the fridge world conjured up by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney. So much so that “meeting in secret behind Pickle Post, / sat Lady Pancake beside Sir French Toast.” They’d noticed the fridge was getting frostier, even dangerous, and they weren’t the only ones. Stepping into view just then was Agent Asparagus, who flashed an FBI (Fridge Bureau of Investigation) badge.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy fo Sterling Children’s Books.

Agent Asparagus happened to be looking for Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast to join her “superspy team” to defeat someone’s “despicable scheme.” They joined up at once and followed the spear up to the freezer, but suddenly Agent Asparagus was grabbed from above and hoisted away. While Pancake was ready to rescue their friend, “Toast held her back. / ‘Something is up there, and it could attack.’”

They needed more help they both realized, and though risky, Pancake thought she knew just who to ask. But Baron von Waffle was not so inclined, but after hearing their plight and some begging and pleading, he finally agreed to lead them through the landscape he knew so well. “At last they arrived in the heart of the freezer / only to hear someone should the words, ‘Seize her!’”

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy fo Sterling Children’s Books.

In a snap Pancake and Toast were “captured and shackled in curly fry chains,” and  “the duo was led through a gate of plantains.” And what about Waffle? He ran away while our heroes were brought before the empress, who wanted to do away with the fridge food—the intruders.

But who did they see sitting high on the throne? None other than Agent Asparagus, who’d hatched this nefarious plot. It seemed long ago during a “bean avalanche” she’d been separated from her bunch and after wandering alone had ended up in the freezer. Now she was taking her revenge on Pancake and Toast, whose race for the syrup had started it all.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy fo Sterling Children’s Books.

There was no one to help them get out of this fix—or was there? Onto the scene burst Baron von Waffle sending Asparagus’s guards scurrying and freeing Pancake and Toast. Sir French Toast and Lady Pancake were surprised too and wondered why he had saved them. Waffle had to admit, “‘Sometimes I envy the friendship you share. / But how could I leave you to freeze in despair?’” They all agreed to be friends. Hearing this story, Asparagus teared up and promised to “‘unfreeze the fridge and retreat.’”

There was always room for one more friend or two, and the trio invited her to join them. As the fridge warmed up and everyone thawed out, they toasted Pancake and Waffle and, of course, Toast. Then all the food in the fridge joined their friends in the freezer and partied and danced (to the Peach Boys) on the snow-covered hills.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy fo Sterling Children’s Books.

In Mission Defrostable, Josh Funk serves up a delectable threequel to his Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series that dished out suspense, surprises, puns, and clever turns of phrase that keep the plot and the plotting racing toward a satisfying conclusion. As in Funk’s two previous books, the rhyming verses are a joy to read aloud as they flow with snappy dialogue, evocative descriptions, and ingenious uses of a refrigerator’s design and culinary contents. Linking this third book to the first is inspired storytelling. Both kids and adults will appreciate Funk’s linguistic artistry that provides lots of laughs intertwined with a melt-your-heart friendship story.

Returning to Brendan Kearney’s fully realized refrigerator world where cunning characters lurk and intrigue is always on the menu is a treat that grows more delightful with each visit. Inspector Croissant and a spiffed-up Fruitcake make an appearance as Pancake and Toast discuss the nefarious cold snap that is affecting them all. An appropriately frosty blue backdrop lends a shivery atmosphere to the mystery as adorably frowning fruits, vegetables, bagels, gummy bears, and other foods await their fate. Action abounds when Pancake and Toast are captured, shackled in the clever curly fry chains, and discover the true culprit. The eagerly anticipated double-spread fold-down page that traditionally ends the book will prompt plenty of “Ooh”s and “Ahh”s as the now-happy residents of the fridge enjoy a party and winter sports in the broccoli forest.

Mission Defrostable is a must for Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast fans. For those not familiar with the series, the book is a thrilling introduction that will have readers wanting to catch up with this delicious dynamic duo. A terrific gift and addition to home, school, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 5 – 9

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018

Discover more about Josh Funk and his books and find lots of fun printable activities on his website.

To learn more about Brendan Kearney, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Warm up to this Mission Defrostable book trailer!

National Food Day Activity

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Breakfast is Best! Word Search

 

With so many delicious foods to choose from, breakfast might just be the best meal of the day! Can you find the twenty-one breakfast foods in this printable puzzle?

Breakfast is Best! Word Search PuzzleBreakfast is Best! Word Search Solution

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You can find Mission Defrostable at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 17 – It’s National Better Breakfast Month

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About the Holiday

With its deliciously soft, doughy inside and crusty outside, the boiled-then-baked bagel is a favorite for breakfast! Coming in all sorts of flavors and varieties, there’s a bagel for every taste, and whether you like yours toasted or not, with cream cheese or plain, it’s hard to deny that the bagel is comfort food at its best. To celebrate today’s holiday, visit your favorite bakery and enjoy!

Bagel in Love

Written by Natasha Wing | Illustrated by Helen Dardik

 

Bagel was one talented bread! He loved to dance because “he never felt plain when he was spinning and swirling, tapping and twirling. When he read the advertisement for the dance contest at the Cherry Jubilee that night, Bagel really wanted to enter, but he didn’t have a partner. He went to the best dancer he knew—another bagel named Poppy—but she refused, saying that “his dance steps were half-baked.”

Next, he tracked down Pretzel at the spa, but as she enjoyed her salt rub, she told Bagel that his dancing just “didn’t cut the mustard.” And Matzo, primping with a manicure and facial, “flat out told him no.” Bagel was determined to find a partner and left Bakersville for Sweet City. There he “waltzed up to a table at a busy café. ‘I bet you’re all fabulous dancers,’” he said to the pastries enjoying coffee at an outdoor table. He then launched into a bit of a tap dance and asked if any of them would like to be his partner for the contest.

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Image copyright Helen Dardik, 2018, text copyright Natasha Wing, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

But Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake scowled at his stale moves. Not to be deterred, Bagel hopped onto a cake display pedestal and shouted out a dance challenge he thought couldn’t miss. Anyone who could match him tap for tap would win a date to the contest with him. But no one took Bagel up on his offer, and worse, Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake just laughed at him as they joined everyone heading to the Cherry Jubilee to watch the contestants.

In the empty café, Bagel felt sad. Maybe he’d be able to compete next year, he signed. He could hear the music begin at the Cherry Jubilee and his feet automatically started tapping. This time, though, he heard an answer back. “He tapped again. Tap-tippity-tippity-tap-tap-tap. Tap-tippity-tippity-tap-tap-tap came the response.” Bagel didn’t know where the tapping was coming from.

Suddenly, he saw the cutest cupcake he had ever seen. Her pink frosting was swirled into a bouffant, and “she smelled oh so sweet.” Bagel asked her if she was the one who had answered his tapping. She admitted she was, but said she wasn’t a very good dancer. Bagel disagreed then asked her to dance. In the empty street outside the café, they twirled around and around. Bagel even tossed her in the air and caught her ever so gently.

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Image copyright Helen Dardik, 2018, text copyright Natasha Wing, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Cupcake told Bagel he was an incredible dancer, and Bagel, feeling “all toasty inside” returned the compliment. Once more, Bagel asked, “‘would you be my partner at the dance contest?’” Cupcake said yes, and they hurried off to the Cherry Jubilee. Their dance moves were a hit with the judges, who all gave them 10s. Bagel and Cupcake won the grand prize trophy, but for these two who had found true love, that “was just the icing on the cake.”

Natasha Wing bakes up plenty of kid-pleasing puns in her culinary/dance-off mashup that will have readers laughing on every page even as they empathize with Bagel and learn some valuable ingredients for the best kind of friendship. Pretzel, Matzo, and the pastries may appear sweet with their salt rubs, manicures, and fancy fillings, but their sour personalities are on full display as they laugh and scoff at Bagel and his dancing. Cupcake, on the other hand, has everything it takes to be a good friend. She’s sweet through and through from her stylish updo to her humble and complimentary conversation. Through Bagel and Cupcake, children see that true friends can be found and are those who appreciate each other for who they are.

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Who wouldn’t want to visit Helen Dardik’s baked-goods world with its delectable delights around every corner? Jelly-roll, cupcake, and fruit-tart homes line the street, special culinary spas cater to every detail, and the Upper Crust Café can’t be beat. Bagel is a cutie, and Cupcake is a-dough-able from her pink frosting hair to her aqua and pink paper-liner dress. A colorful, glitter-textured two-page spread shimmers with the love and joy that Bagel and Cupcake have in winning the trophy and each other’s hearts.

Bagel in Love is a fun and funny book—with a little life lesson mixed in—for home, classroom, and library story times.

Ages 4 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1454922391

Discover more about Natasha Wing and her books on her website.

National Better Breakfast Month Activity

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Avocado Bagel

 

A creamy avocado makes a delicious spread for bagels or toast to have with breakfast, lunch, or dinner! The mild flavor will please little ones while the essential vitamins and oils will please health-conscious parents.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, or to taste

Directions

  1. Cut the avocado open, remove pit, and scoop out the meat
  2. In a bowl mash the avocado until it is smooth
  3. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper
  4. Mix well
  5. Spread on a toasted bagel or bread

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You can find Bagel in Love at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

 

June 24 – It’s National Camping Month

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About the Holiday

June is the perfect month to explore the great outdoors up close through camping. Whether you enjoy pitching a tent, renting a cabin, or parking an RV, 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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Copyright Brandon Reese, 2016, courtesy of Brandon Reese (brandonreese.com).

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.”

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Copyright Brandon Reese, 2016, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

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.”

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Copyright Brandon Reese, 2016, 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!

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Copyright Brandon Reese, 2016, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

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 Camping Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-canoe-maze

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!

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

You can find Can You Canoe? And Other Adventure Songs at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Reviews

June 17 – Father’s Day

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About the Holiday

Today is simple. It’s all about celebrating dads and telling them how much you love them. It’s a great day to think of all the things dads do for their kids and their families and to share a thank-you, a hug, and of course a book! Reading together is one of the best ways for dads and their kids to bond not only today, but every day!

Daddies Do

Written by Lezlie Evans | Illustrated by Elisa Ferro

 

“Who tangles and wrangles / and wrestles for fun, / then cries, ‘I surrender! / You’re tougher. You won!’?” Who lets you go out with clothes that don’t match and hair that’s a mess? There’s only one answer: “Daddies Do. That’s Who!” Dads can make you feel taller and show you you’re measuring up, and they’ll encourage your courage, “even when you don’t fly.”

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Image copyright Elisa Ferro, 2018, text copyright Lezlie Evans, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Who comes to school concerts, plays, and events, takes lots of pictures, and applauds the loudest? Who makes you feel better when you’re feeling sick and lifts you high on their shoulders to see above crowds? “Daddies Do. That’s Who!” “Who listens, who cares / when you’ve had a bad day? / Then in one fell swoop / helps your blues fly away?” Who helps you build forts and catches you at the end of a slide? “Daddy’s Do. That’s Who!”

Who takes you on fishing trips, makes bath time fun, and monkeys around when the day is done? Who drifts off to sleep while reading you stories, but “gives you a bear hug / and tucks you in tight? / Who whispers, ‘I love you,’ / then turns out the light?’” You know who—“Daddies Do!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-daddies-do-ant-eater

Image copyright Elisa Ferro, 2018, text copyright Lezlie Evans, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Lezlie Evans sweet story reminds little ones of all the special times they spend with dad and the silly, carefree fun they have. Her playful rhymes and lively rhythm make reading Daddy’s Do aloud joyful. The question and answer phrasing and repetition of “Daddies Do. That’s Who!” allows kids to enthusiastically read along. Young readers will love snuggling up with their dads to talk about things they’ve already done together and those they’re looking forward to in the future.

Elisa Ferro’s adorable father and child animal pairs, who are playing, learning, snacking, and snuggling together will enchant readers. Ferro’s warm colors, smiling characters, and clever images create a cozy reading experience that will have little ones asking to have the story read again and again.

Daddies Do is a charming book for dads—and moms—to read with children and is sure to be a hit for sharing the special relationship between fathers and kids.

Ages 3 – 7

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1454921714

Discover more about Lezlie Evans and her books on her website

To learn more about Elisa Ferro and view a portfolio of her art, visit her website.

Who can watch the Daddies Do book trailer? You can!

Father’s Day Activity

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I Love Dad Building Blocks

 

This craft will stack up to be a favorite with kids! With wooden blocks and a little chalkboard paint, it’s easy for kids to make these unique building blocks that show dad just how they feel about him. They’re also great for gifts, decorating, party favors, or when you just have a little time to play!

Supplies

  • Wooden blocks in various sizes, available from craft stores
  • Chalkboard paint in various colors
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk in various colors

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden blocks with the chalkboard paint, let dry
  2. Write words or draw pictures on the blocks
  3. Have fun!

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You can find Daddies Do at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

May 30 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

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About the Holiday

Get Caught Reading Month was established in 1999 by the Association of American Publishers to encourage people of all ages to read more. Authors, illustrators, celebrities, athletes, and others participate by sharing pictures of themselves reading an old favorite or new book on social media. Schools, libraries, bookstores, and community venues hold special programs throughout the month. For more information and to find resources, visit the Get Caught Reading website.

Albie Newton

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Ester Garay

 

Albie Newton was something of a prodigy. As a tyke, he retrofitted his stroller into a racecar, tried counting to infinity, and “learned to speak a language almost every week: / English, Spanish, Hindi, Klingon, Gibberish, then Greek.” When he moves to a new town and a new school, his classmates are excited to meet him. Albie is also revved up to start making friends, and he has a plan he thinks the other kids will love.

But as they all settle in to work, “the students noticed Albie was a whiz. / Albie wrote a sonnet while they took a spelling quiz.” During art class, the kids were likewise astounded (and a little dismayed) when, while they scribbled, drew swirls, and made handprints, Albie painted like Van Gogh. When free time rolled around, and some kids played dress up, Albie “sifted through the trash,” to build a science lab, leaving a mess for Arjun to clean up.

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Image copyright Ester Garay, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Then things began to disappear. “Hamilton the hamster tried to run but had no wheel. / Albie needed extra sprockets made of stainless steel.” While Sona and Shirley created paper masks, the glue went missing, and Albie “didn’t even ask.” The wings from Dave’s propeller plane were suddenly broken off, and reading time became impossible when “booming pandemonium descended on the school.” Albie, though, intent on his invention, didn’t notice the trouble he was causing or the crowd of angry kids rushing to complain.

Before they could reach Albie, though, Shirley stopped them, saying “‘maybe Albie didn’t know. Let’s look at what he made.’ Curious, the children headed straight to where he played.” When they say all the inventions Albie had made, they stopped and stared. Albie had made the class a gift—a spaceship, and with the push of a button, an amazing time machine!

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Image copyright Ester Garay, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

With his inimitable style, Josh Funk creates a rambunctious tale of invention and creativity, but one that also has a deeper message about the way some kids see the world and communicate with peers and others. In the first pages, readers are introduced to the precocious Albie, who from birth has demonstrated a talent for learning and doing. When he enters a new school, however, his single focus doesn’t translate into the kinds of social interactions his classmates are used to. Albie gathers materials for his present unaware of the mayhem he’s causing, just as the other kids are unaware of Albie’s real goal. Only Shirley is sensitive to the idea that Albie may not be causing havoc on purpose but for a purpose. Her calming defense of Albie allows the other kids to see Albie in a new light and appreciate his gift—and his gifts.

While Funk’s rhyming verses are focusing on Albie and his actions, Ester Garay’s bright illustrations depict the other kids’ reactions to his talents and also his disruptions. A first hint at how Albie fits in with his new class comes as the kids welcome him with cheer and smiles. Instead of facing them to accept the welcome, Albie is faced away from them, happily imagining the gift he will make for them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-albie-newton-drawings
Image copyright Ester Garay, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Throughout the day, Shirley follows Albie, and as she watches and wonders, her facial expressions demonstrate dismay at some of Albie’s antics but also a growing understanding and acceptance. Garay captures the close camaraderie of a preschool or kindergarten classroom, and her close-up view of Albie toiling away on his invention will have readers eager to see the result. The reveal of Albie’s spaceship time machine and the final spread of the kids frolicking on a distant planet with the likes of Freda Kahlo, William Shakespeare, Amelia Earhart, and a helpful dino, are sure to produce some oohs and ahhhs.

Albie Newton is a doubly impactful story that would be a welcome addition to home and, most especially, classroom bookshelves. It can be read as a boisterous story of innovation for lively story times, but it also provides adults and children an opportunity to discuss the ideas of social interaction and various personalities. Most children know someone like Albie who as naturally quiet, on the spectrum, or singularly focused on one area or another, communicates and socializes differently than others. Reading Albie Newton can help kids better understand different behaviors and, like Shirley, become more sensitive to all their classmates and friends.

Ages 5 – 9

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1454922582

Discover more about Josh Funk and his books as well as find fun activities and lots of resources on his website.

To learn more about Ester Garay, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Check out the Albie Newton book trailer!

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-initial-bookend

Initial Bookends

 

You can keep your books neat and tidy on the shelf with this easy-to-make bookend that displays your talents and personality!

Supplies

  • Wooden letter block in the child’s first initial or both initials
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Chalk
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden letter with the chalkboard paint, let dry
  2. With the chalk, write words that your think best describe you on the letter
  3. Display your letter on your bookshelf!

May 29 – It’s National Inventors Month

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate all of those inventors who think creatively to devise new products, different ways of performing tasks, better methods of communication, and even innovative ways of viewing the world. Begun in 1998 by the United Inventors Association of the USA, the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors’ Digest magazine, this month’s holiday encourages people to embrace their creativity and also to support those who work to make their own vision a reality for themselves and to make the world a better place.

Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe

Written by Katey Howes | Illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti

 

Every Friday, Magnolia’s favorite adult—her uncle Jamie—visited and spent time inventing with her. He always encouraged Magnolia to think big. One day, Magnolia and her uncle Jamie created their “greatest invention—the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe,” which ran on Mudd Power. But after one experimental launching, Magnolia had to retrieve all the parts to build it again. When she called her uncle to help her repair it, he said she would have to wait. Instead, he was bringing Miss Emily over because they “had ‘something to talk about.’”

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Image copyright Valerio Fabbretti, 2018, text copyright Katey Howes, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

Magnolia didn’t want her time with Uncle Jamie taken up by Miss Emily. As far as Magnolia was concerned Uncle Jamie and Miss Emily had nothing in common, so on Friday when they told her they were getting married, Magnolia was surprised. When Miss Emily asked Magnolia to be their flower girl and showed her the fancy dress she’d wear, Magnolia thought, “no way!” Later, Uncle Jamie said maybe they could find a different way for her to be involved in the wedding.

Magnolia researched all the different things she could do, and experimented with some of them. She read that in India women decorate their hands with henna tattoos. She devised a henna tattoo-painting machine, but it went a little haywire. In Sweden, she learned, guests scared off trolls by bringing bouquets of stink weed. Magnolia built a troll trap, but only caught herself. And in a German tradition, guests throw plates at the couple’s door for good luck, but when Magnolia retooled her “Fantastic Frisbee Flinger,” she only caused a mess of broken pottery.

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Image copyright Valerio Fabbretti, 2018, text copyright Katey Howes, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

Magnolia resigned herself to being “doomed to ruffles and roses.” She was just wishing she could launch the rose petals instead of scattering them when she had an idea. She showed Miss Emily her brainstorm for a bouquet-launcher that worked on Mudd Power. Miss Emily loved it. Together they began to invent. On the day of the wedding, they revealed their “new-and-improved Dual-Directional Super-Jumptastic Flower Launcher Deluxe (with Confetti Blaster),” and as Magnolia and Miss Emily jumped on the launch pad together, Magnolia realized that with Aunt Emily in the family, there was “way more Mudd Power” for inventing.

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Image copyright Valerio Fabbretti, 2018, text copyright Katey Howes, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

Katey Howes’ humorous and clever story is as dual-purpose as Magnolia’s super launcher deluxe. Young readers will love seeing Magnolia’s gizmos that fire rockets, squirt paint, capture trolls, fling plates, and toss the bouquet (maybe a little too far!) while learning about some wedding traditions around the world. The heart of Howe’s story, however, lies in the ideas of family, relationships, communication, and acceptance. Readers will understand that Magnolia’s initial dislike of Miss Emily has more to do with her fear of a changing relationship with Uncle Jamie than with Emily’s dangly earrings or preference for sushi over pizza.

When Magnolia balks at being a flower girl, the adults allow her to be herself and work with her to find a job that makes everyone happy. As Magnolia gets to know Emily better, she takes a chance in suggesting a bouquet launcher and is rewarded when Emily (literally) jumps in with both feet (the fact that Miss Emily works at an art gallery hints at her ability to think creatively too). The final image of Magnolia, Uncle Jamie, and Aunt Emily hard at work in their lab reminds kids of the adage, “the more (Mudd Power) the merrier.”

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Image copyright Valerio Fabbretti, 2018, text copyright Katey Howes, 2018. Courtesy of Sterling Books.

Valerio Fabbretti’s bright, cartoon-style artwork is ideally suited to bring out the humor and emotions in Howes’ action-packed story. Magnolia’s and Uncle Jamie’s love of science is on display in both Jamie’s office and Magnolia’s room, where diagrams, chemical equations, test tubes and beakers, and retrofitted home appliances create an eclectic décor. Kids will laugh as Magnolia’s inventions go awry, and cheer when Magnolia and Miss Emily discover the perfect wedding job for Magnolia and complete it together. The interracial relationship of Uncle Jamie and Miss Emily is a welcome representation of family.

An entertaining and endearing story, Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe is an inventive book to launch fun story times as well as discussions on individuality, inclusion, change, and family.

Ages 3 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1454921745

Discover more about Katey Howes and her books on her website.

To learn more about Valerio Fabbretti, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Inventors Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sparkle-test-tubes-II

Sparkle Test Tubes

 

Kids love inventing and experimenting, and these sparkle test tubes give children a fun way to be creative while making a cool way to relax and on those hectic days.

Supplies

  • Plastic test tubes with tight-fitting screw cap, available at craft or science supply stores. Having two or three will allow for more experimentation
  • Glitter glue
  • Hot water
  • Fine glitter
  • Chunky glitter
  • Small glass beads (optional)
  • Neon food coloring (optional)
  • Test tube stand (optional)
  • Whisk
  • Mixing bowl
  • Teaspoon

Directions

  1. Fill a test tube 1/3 full of hot water and pour the water into the mixing bowl
  2. Add 1 – 2 teaspoons of glitter glue (the more glitter glue that is added the thicker the liquid will be and the more the objects will be suspended in the liquid. To allow the objects to flow more freely when the test tube is shaken, add less glue
  3. Whisk the water and glitter glue together
  4. Add chunky glitter, glass beads, or try other small objects
  5. Pour into test tube
  6. Add more water to within a ½ – 1 inch of the top to allow for shaking
  7. Experiment with amount of glitter glue, glitter, and colors

Picture book review