March 11 – It’s National Reading Month

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About the Holiday

The month of March is a reading lover’s favorite! Why? Because from the 1st to the 31st, every day is dedicated to reading. Special events for adults and children take place at libraries, bookstores, community centers, and schools, bringing authors, illustrators, educators, and readers together to get them excited about this favorite past time. A love of reading is a life-long pleasure with so many benefits. 

A Little Chicken

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Dan Taylor

 

“Dot was a little chicken…who, let’s face it, was a little chicken.” There weren’t many things Dot wasn’t afraid of, including garden gnomes. Even though “Dot tried to be brave,” even the simplest things and the gentlest creatures frightened her. One day, though, while she was adding making their coop more secure, Dot knocked one of her siblings off the nest. All she could do was watch it roll away.

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Image copyright Dan Taylor, 2019, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2019. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Or was there something else she could do? She plucked up her courage and ran after it. The egg was just within reach when it bounced away and took two hops across lily pads into the middle of the pond. Dot swung over the egg on a tall strand of grass and was just about to grab it when it was catapulted into a tall tree.

Dot climbed the tree and inched out onto a long branch. “She was this close when…” the branch broke and the egg broke away too—”into the deep…dark…woods.” She took one look and…decided “this was no time to be a little chicken.” She ran down the path in pursuit of her little brother or sister and finally caught that egg just as it began to crack. These days, while Dot is still afraid of many things, her little sister and the other chickens think she’s a hero—just “a big hero” who’s “just a little chicken.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-little-chicken-egg

Image copyright Dan Taylor, 2019, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2019. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Tammi Sauer’s upbeat story of a timid chicken who overcomes her fears in order to save her sibling is suspenseful, fast-paced, and sprinkled with humor. The story will have even the most cautious little ones cheering Dot on her quest and finding their own brave along the way. Dot’s sense of responsibility sparks the action and serves as a second gentle lesson in this well-conceived story. The ending, which embraces Dot’s wary nature while also revealing her heroic accomplishment, is a welcome message for hesitant children who are courageous in their own way.

Dan Taylor’s sweet Dot, with her oversized glasses and bright red overalls, will charm children looking for a hero who’s just their size. As Dot sets in motion her unhatched sibling and the story while installing a huge security camera and monitor in the coop, kids will alternately gasp and giggle at the suspenseful and humorous details on each page. The other chickens are delightfully supportive of Dot, which lends a sense of inclusiveness as they all rush out to cheer her heroic catch. Dot scrambles over a green meadow, hangs perilously over a lily pad covered pond, scurries up a tall tree, and flaps her way through a dark forest populated with a wolf, bears, and—most frightening of all—three garden gnomes.

A story of finding one’s courage at eggs-actly the right moment, A Little Chicken would be a heartening addition to home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 3 – 7

Sterling Children’s Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1454929000

Discover more about Tammi Sauer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Dan Taylor, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Reading Month Activity

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Egg Carton Chickens and a Basket Full of Games

 

With twelve little chickens you can come up with lots of games to play! This fun craft and game activity is eggs-actly what you need to start hatching some real fun!

Supplies

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • White craft paint
  • Markers: red, yellow, black for the face; any colors you’d like for wings and eggs
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction or craft paper in white and a color of your choice

Directions

  1. Cut the notched flap off the egg carton and set aside
  2. Cut the top off the egg carton
  3. Cut apart all the egg cups and trim slightly so they sit flat
  4. Paint the egg cups with the white paint, let dry
  5. Add the face, comb and wings to the chicken with the markers. Make six chickens with one color wings and six chickens with another color wings.
  6. From the egg carton flap cut thirteen small egg-shaped playing pieces
  7. With the markers, decorate twelve of the eggs in pairs—each egg in the pair with the same design
  8. Color one egg yellow and add a beak, eyes, and wings to make it a chick

Games to Play

Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players)

  1. On a 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper draw a regular tic-tac-toe board or make it fancy – like the picket fence-inspired board in the picture
  2. To make the fence-inspired board on a colored background, cut 2 9-inch-long x 3/4-inch wide strips of white paper, cutting a pointed tip at one or both ends. Cut 2 white  8-inch x 3/4-inch strips of paper with a pointed tip at one or both ends. Glue the strips to the background.
  3. Each player chooses a set of chickens with the same colored wings
  4. Play the game as you usually do

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Find the Matching Eggs (2 or more players)

  1. Have one player hide one egg under each chicken
  2. Shuffle the eggs around and form them into three lines of 4 chickens each
  3. Another player lifts one chicken at a time to find matching eggs. If the eggs don’t match, put both chickens back and start again

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Where’s the Chick?

  1. Use as many chickens and eggs as you want (fewer for younger children, more for older)
  2. One player hides the chick under one of the chickens and eggs under the others.
  3. Another player has three chances to find the chick

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I’m sure you can also design your own games for your adorable chickens to play! With more chickens you can even make a checkers set or replicate another of your favorite board games!

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You can find A Little Chicken at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

February 11 – National Make a Friend Day

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About the Holiday

Friends make our lives better! They’re there to share in life’s adventures with a laugh, a shoulder to cry on, and an understanding ear. Friends feature in our best memories and are always up to making new ones. Today, look around and see who you might add to your list of friends then introduce yourself, invite them for a coffee or a chat, and start a friendship that may last a lifetime!

Making a Friend

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Alison Friend

 

“Beaver was good at making lots of things.” He could build, he could knit, and he knew a bit about engineering. But he was not so good at making friends. He tried hard to do nice things, but something always seemed to go wrong. Then, one day, the snowflakes falling from the sky gave Beaver an idea. “Hmm! Maybe this is what I need to make a friend,” he thought.

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Image copyright Alison Friend, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

He began rolling a huge snowball. While he was working, Raccoon came by to watch. When Beaver told him that he was making a friend, Raccoon said that it “takes two to make a friend.” Beaver was a bit disappointed until Raccoon did some math and showed him that Raccoon plus Beaver made two.

Working together Beaver and Raccoon made a cute snow friend. They added eyes, a nose, a smile, and two stick arms. But something was still missing. Raccoon said that thing was “pizzazz.” So they added a hat, a boa, some socks, and even a swim mask until their friend looked just right. But their friend just stared back at them. “This friend was not much of a friend at all. In fact, he seemed rather cold.”

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Image copyright Alison Friend, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Then Beaver and Racoon looked at each other. They talked about what fun they’d had building the snow friend together. And they realized that they had become friends. Now they make lots of things to share, but they agree—“the best thing they made was a friend.”

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Image copyright Alison Friend, 2018, courtesy of HarperCollins

Tammi Sauer unlocks the secret to friendship in her clever story in which making a friend leads to making a true friend. While Beaver tries to extend the hand of friendship and do nice things for others in the forest, his efforts miss the mark. But when he meets Raccoon, their personalities, talents, and ideas of fun click and they build a real friendship. Young readers will understand Beaver’s feelings of disappointment and confusion when his overtures of friendship are not reciprocated and see that collaborating with someone—either in play or toward a common goal—often brings friends together naturally.

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Image copyright Alison Friend, 2018, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Little readers will fall in love with Alison Friend’s adorable Beaver who’s so good at creating a playhouse complete with water slide but has trouble making friends. Cheerful and enthusiastic, Beaver is a sweetheart as he begins rolling the snow into a ball. When Raccoon comes by, Beaver quickly shares the fun. Kids will enjoy seeing and learn from the images of companionship and give-and-take as Beaver learns a little math and a new word from Raccoon and Raccoon discovers that he likes the raisons Beaver offers him on their way to creating their snowman.  Full of color, smiles, and endearing moments, Friend’s pages are sure to delight kids.

Making a Friend is a charming read aloud, a celebration of creativity, and a gentle lesson on friendship all rolled into one. To share with children learning to navigate new friendships and those who love doing everything with their best buddy, the book makes a sweet addition to home, classroom, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2018 | ISBN 978-0062278937

Discover more about Tammi Sauer and her books on her website.

Make a Friend Day Activity

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Snow Buddies

 

This is a great craft for kids to share with a friend. Grab a pair of socks and have fun making these snow buddies! 

Supplies

  • White dress ankle socks
  • Polyester Fiber Fill
  • Tiny buttons
  • Fleece or ribbon, enough for a little scarf
  • Toothpicks
  • Twigs
  • Orange craft paint
  • Cardboard
  • White rubber bands, one or two depending on the size of the snowman
  • Fabric or craft glue
  • Small hair band (optional)

Directions

To Make the Snowman

  1. Cut a circle from the cardboard about 2 inches in diameter for the base
  2. Place the cardboard circle in the bottom of the sock
  3. Fill the sock with fiber fill about ¾ full or to where the ribbed ankle cuff begins. Pack tightly while making a sausage shape. You can make your snowman different shapes with the amount of fill you use.
  4. Stretch out the cuff of the sock and tie it off near the top of the fill either with a loop knot or with the hairband.
  5. Fold the cuff down around the top of the filled sock to make the hat.
  6. Wrap a rubber band around the middle of the sock to make a two-snowball snowman. For a three-snowball snowman, use two rubber bands. Adjust the rubber bands to make the “snowballs” different sizes.

To Make the Scarf

  1. Cut a strip of fleece or ribbon 8 to 10 inches long by ½ inch wide
  2. Tie the fleece or ribbon around the neck of the snowman
  3. To Make the Nose
  4. Dip one end of the toothpick into orange paint, let dry
  5. Cut the toothpick in half
  6. Stick the toothpick into the head or top portion of the snowman

To Make the Arms

  1. Insert small twigs into each side of the body of the snowman
  2. You can also use wire or cardboard to make the arms
  3. Attach two mini-buttons to the face for eyes with the fabric or craft glue
  4. Display your Snow Buddy

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You can find Making a Friend at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

August 15 – National Tell a Joke Day

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About the Holiday

Is there anything better than a big belly laugh? Hearing or seeing something that tickles your funny bone can be one of the best parts of a day. Did you know that the first recorded joke dates back to 1900 BC? It seems those early Sumerians were a pretty rowdy bunch. And not only them, humor has been a part of every culture from their earliest days. And why not? Laughter makes us feel better psychologically and even has the power to heal. Celebrate today by sharing your favorite jokes!

Knock Knock

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Guy Francis

 

Bear’s eyes are droopy, and he’s all tucked in under his puffy quilt. With his teddy bear clasped in his hand, he’s just about to turn out the light when: “KNOCK KNOCK.” Dutifully, Bear rouses himself and goes to answer it. “Who’s there?” he says. The answer comes back: “Justin.” “Justin who?” Bear opens the door and Fox rushes in with an armload of firewood. “Justin the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by!”

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Image copyright Guy Francis, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Fox is just piling the logs in the fireplace when there’s another “KNOCK KNOCK” at the door. Startled, Bear asks the requisite question and learns that Ken has also come calling. But as soon as the door is opened a crack, three wisecracking blue jays fly in carrying streamers. While Fox seems happy to see them, Bear is not so keen.

A moment later another “KNOCK KNOCK” brings one more visitor, who’s lugging a huge pot of stew in his two oven-mitted paws. Bear can hardly keep his eyes open, but when he hears a raucous “KNOCK KNOCK,” he can’t help but ask yet again, “Who’s there?” It’s “Olive.” “Olive who?” The door bursts open to a chorus of “Olive us!” Waiting to enter is a whole gang of friends who are carrying balloons, hot chocolate, cupcakes, and even some knitting. But there’s still room for more, and another “KNOCK KNOCK” brings a “Good grief” from Bear and a familiar face at the window with a playful take on an old wolfish ultimatum.

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Image copyright Guy Francis, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic Press.

The party’s going full swing, but all Bear can do is “yawwwwnnn” from the comfort of his armchair and remind his guests that he really needs some…. “KNOCK KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK.” “WHO’S THERE?” Bear roars. He swings the door wide and finds Al, who has a very special message for this very special party given just for Bear. Then the animals tuck Bear in tight, whisper sweet goodnights, and leave him to his winter slumber. And when he wakes up? Harry is ready to play! KNOCK KNOCK!

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Image copyright Guy Francis, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Tammi Sauer’s clever story told through knock-knock jokes will have young readers rolling with laughter as poor bear grows wearier and wearier but continues to answer the KNOCK KNOCK summons. Each knock-knock joke ingeniously moves the story along while introducing a crew of Bear’s friends, who, it turns out, has planned a special send-off for their pal’s hibernation. Kids will love chiming in on the famous line the big bad wolf used on the three little pigs and noticing that the little chipmunk is reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears to tuck his friend in. Over- tired Bear’s tirade quickly melts into a warm embrace for all his friends when he realizes why they’ve come. The revelation of Bear’s name when springtime rolls around offers one more laugh at the end of the story and allows Bear to get in on the fun.

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With each knock on the door, Guy Francis ramps up the hilarity as Bear reacts with startled, wide-eyed surprise to each guest, who enters with a twinkle of sly acknowledgment of his or her joke. The animals seem right at home as they build a fire in the fireplace, cook on the stove, decorate the living room—and even Bear himself. Kids will laugh out loud at Bear’s flustered expressions and his cavernous yawn as the party preparations continue around him. When Bear is finally ready to put his big paw down, only to realize that all the commotion is really for him, his toothy grin says it all. The sweet looks and big hugs all around as well as a brand-new, comfy quilt float Bear off to dreamland for the winter. When spring comes, a refreshed Harry, looking not quite so grizzled comes knocking on the woodland animals’ Hobbit-style homes to repay the visit.

Knock Knock will knock kids’ socks off, and you can bet the book will go into much-loved rotation and begin a love of this funny joke form. The book would make a terrific gift and addition to home bookshelves as well as a lighthearted choice for funny classroom story times.

Ages 3 – 6

Scholastic Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1338116946

Discover more about Tammi Sauer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Guy Francis, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Tell a Joke Day Activity

Fox_in_Suit

Animated Animals Coloring Pages

 

These animals have heard some funny jokes, but they need a bit of color! Grab your crayons, markers, or pencils and have fun!

Happy Hedgehog | Laughing Fox | Smiling Sheep

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You can find Knock Knock at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

July 14 – Shark Awareness Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-coverAbout the Holiday

Today we take a moment to consider the benefits sharks provide to the marine ecosystem. Every year thousands of sharks die and their species threatened due to misconceptions and misuse. As a predator at the top of the food chain, sharks play a crucial role in maintaining balance within the ocean. Protecting this often-misunderstood species is an important goal.

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time?

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Michael Slack

 

Deep in the ocean two friends do everything together and life is almost perfect as they swim over ship wrecks, under reefs, and all around. Nugget and Fang are as close as two friend can be—there’s just one thing: Nugget is a minnow while Fang is a shark. Neither of them consider their friendship unusual—until Nugget goes to school. There during Reading, Nugget hears the story of The Three Little Minnows and the Big, Bad Shark. “‘Ha!’” says Nugget. “‘Impossible!’”

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Image copyright Michael Slack, 2013, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2013. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

During Math class the students solve a word problem: “What if there were ten minnows and a shark came along and ate four of them? How many minnows are left?” Nugget is scandalized. “‘A shark would never do that!’” he says. But Science period reveals the facts of the Marine Food Chain. Nugget protests that sharks aren’t scary. “‘My best friend is a shark!’” he announces. His classmates are shocked. “Have you lost your gills?” one asks. Another snarks, “Hello—sharks eat minnows!” Nugget can’t believe it.

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Image copyright Michael Slack, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Back home Nugget gives Fang the bad news. “‘Sounds fishy to me,’” says Fang. Nugget assures him it’s true before swimming far away. “Fang’s heart sank.” He can’t help if he’s “toothy,” he thinks, and he knows he doesn’t mean to be scary. He wants his best friend back. To prove it Fang tries different tactics. On Tuesday he dresses like a mermaid, but Nugget and the other fish see through his disguise. “‘Oh, my algae!’” exclaims Nugget. On Wednesday Fang sends a beautiful sea plant arrangement with a note—“Dear Nugget, I’d love to have you over for dinner.”—which is misinterpreted in the worst possible way. On Thursday Fang pulls out all the stops. He gets a “Nugget” tattoo, sends a special message and gift, and performs an original song and dance, but nothing works.

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Image copyright Michael Slack, 2013, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2013. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

On Friday Fang is sadly resigned to being alone. While he mopes and cries, he doesn’t see that a fishing net has been lowered to the ocean floor, capturing Nugget and the other minnows. “Help!” shouts Nugget as the net is slowly lifted. Fang wrings his fins, uncertain of what to do. Suddenly, he has an idea. With his big sharp teeth he chomps and chews and tears the net to pieces. Nugget and the minnows swim to safety. They all stare at Fang wide-eyed.

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Image copyright Michael Slack, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Fang dejectedly begins to swim away. “‘I know, I know,’” he says, “‘I’m toothy. Too scary. Too…shark.’” “Wait!” calls Nugget and uses a little math of his own. “‘There were ten minnows, and a very special shark came along. How many friends are there altogether?’” Now eleven friends live happily deep in the ocean, and everyone—especially Fang—are all smiles.

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Image copyright Michael Slack, 2013, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2013. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Tammi Sauer’s tribute to true friendship reveals the danger when “facts” take precedence over what you know in your heart to be true. Her reminder to listen to your inner voice is approached with humor and the honest types of doubts that can niggle and cloud judgement. Throughout the story, her language is accessible and kid-conversational, including puns that will elicit giggles. Sauer’s use of a math word problem to both highlight contrary thinking and provide a solution underscores the influence of education. Nugget & Fang is a wonderful book for kids navigating the school and activities environment while making new—and keeping old—friendships.

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Michael Slack immediately sets kids in the right mindset with his bright, cartoon-inspired illustrations. Tiny, colorful Nugget and bold, blue Fang, his “toothiness” on display through his big grin, make a happy, nonchalant pair. They play together through vibrant green, yellow, and purple reefs unaware of marine stereotypes. When Nugget gets “schooled,” his astounded expressions and those of his classmates, humorously depict their predicament. The ocean environment gives Slack an opportunity for plenty of visual jokes and innovation. The Reading teacher holds a clamshell-shaped book, a piece of shipwrecked board serves as a Math blackboard, and the Science food chain poster is appropriately scary. Kids will laugh at Fang’s attempts at reconciliation, and cheer when he becomes a hero.

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time? is sure to be a favorite story time read and would be an often-asked-for addition to home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 9

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013 ISBN 978-0544481718 | Lap Board Book, 2018 ISBN 978-1328768391

To learn more about Tammi Sauer and her books, visit her website!

View a gallery of work by Michael Slack on his website!

Visit the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Nugget & Fang page for more goodies!

Will everything go swimmingly for Nugget and Fang? Watch the trailer and see!

Shark Awareness Day Activity

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Shark Organizer Jar

 

Are some of your favorite things scattered here and there? Would you like to be able to get a good clamp on them? Then here’s a craft you can really sink your teeth into! This shark organizer jar is easy and fun to make and a fin-tastic way to keep your stuff tidy!

Supplies

  • Wide-mouth plastic jar, like a peanut-butter jar
  • Gray craft paint
  • White craft paint
  • Black craft paint
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Find a point in the middle of the jar on opposite sides of the jar
  2. Mid-way between these points on the other sides of the jar, find a point about 1 1/2 inches above the first points
  3. From the first point draw an angled line up to the higher point and down again to the lower point to make the shark’s upper jaw
  4. Repeat Direction Number 3 to make the shark’s lower jaw
  5. With the gray paint fill in the jar below these lines to make the shark’s head
  6. Along the jawline, paint jagged teeth with the white paint
  7. Add black dots for eyes on either side of the shark’s head
  8. Let dry

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-cover

You can find Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time? at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

 

June 28 – It’s Great Outdoors Month

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About the Holiday

Little ones and kids of all ages benefit from being outdoors whether they’re playing, helping around the house, gardening, or traveling. Simple pleasures and even time to be “bored” spark the imagination and creativity and can help kids learn patience and self-sufficiency. To celebrate Great Outdoors Month, plan an outing with your kids. It may turn into an adventure you never expected—just as in today’s book!

Go Fish!

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Zoe Waring

 

Goose has packed his tackle box, backpack, and umbrella, and with his fishing pole slung over his shoulder he heads down the road to meet his friends at the pond. It’s time to “go fish!” While Raccoon, Bunny, Cat, Beaver, and Mouse have all cast their lines from the dock, Goose has gotten tangled in his. It’s okay, though, really, because when the others pull up their lines, they sadly see “No fish.”

Goose has managed to straighten things out and is trying to bait his hook as his friends enthusiastically try once again. But, alas, there are still “no fish.” Oh dear! Goose has dropped the jar of worms, and they’re all wriggling away. By this time the others doubtfully “go fish,” and their suspicions are confirmed when they pull up “no fish” but lots of other intriguing items.

Suddenly, though, the crew sees a shadowy fish swimming near the dock. Goose is finally ready, so his friends let him try his luck. His hook and bobber sail over the water right to where the shadow is. Did he catch it? The line gets tight, and everyone helps Goose reel it in while chanting “Fish! Fish! Fish!” Their catch breaks the surface of the water, and…”Whoa.”

This is no ordinary fish! The friends scramble down the dock as fast as they can to the safety of the grassy hill. They sit dejectedly, their stomachs rumbling. Goose is reading the newspaper Beaver caught earlier when something catches his eye. It’s an ad for pizza! He calls. He orders. They have a pizza party! Peering over the dock is the enormous fish. The friends notice his sad expression. “Oh! Fish?” They wonder what to do. Goose knows! Like a fishing expert, he hooks a slice of pizza and sends it sailing toward Fish. A few bites later, it’s time to splash in the cool, blue pond.

With only ten words and a pond-ful of charm, Tammi Sauer and Zoe Waring have created a book that will have kids laughing and happily shouting along “Go fish!” “No fish!” with a minimum of prompting on the first read through and no help necessary on subsequent go ‘rounds—of which there will be many, many. Goose, with his tangled line and lost worms, makes an endearing comic foil to Waring’s sweet, more experienced Beaver, Cat, Bunny, Raccoon, and Mouse.

Strategic placement of the words “go” and “fish carry the story through the excitement of a day of fishing, the disappointment of empty hooks, renewed and dashed hopes, a passel of silly catches, and one distinctive fish. An unexpected “whoa” ushers in a rhyme scheme that little ones will love as well as a pizza-perfect ending for all. Waring’s bright backgrounds showcase her adorable characters and their easy-to-read expressions. Readers will have fun following the fates of the “catches of the day” to see how they play into this fabulous fish story.

Fans of Tammi Sauer and Zoe Waring’s Truck, Truck, Goose! as well as readers new to Goose’s adventures will be hooked on Go Fish! from the first page, making this book a definite catch for home and classroom libraries.

Ages Preschool and up

HarperCollins, 2018 | ISBN 978-0062421555    

Discover more about Tammi Sauer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Zoe Waring, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Great Outdoors Month Activity

 celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fishing-game-4

Go Fishing Game

 

Kids can go fishing right at home with this easy-to-make game! With a paper plate pond, a few printable fish, and a few other supplies, kids will be catching a whole lot of fun!

Supplies

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Directions

  1. Color the paper plate blue
  2. Print the Go Fishing! Game Playing Die (optional)

To Make the Fish

  1. Print the fish templates, color fish, and cut out
  2. Tape a paper clip to the back of the fish
  3. If using back-to-back templates, cut fish out, put a paper clip between the sides and glue or tape the two sides together

To Make the Fishing Pole

  1. Tie a length of string to the straw, pencil, or dowel
  2. Sandwich the other end of the string between the two circular magnets
  3. Lay the fish on the plate
  4. Go fishing!

Optional Game: Kids can roll the die to determine which fish to catch

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You can find Go Fish! at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

July 23 – National Day of the Cowboy

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About the Holiday

Observed annually on the third Saturday of July, the day commemorates the “contributions of the Cowboy and Cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage. The heyday of the cowboy and cowgirl came after the Civil War when Texas experienced a booming wild cattle population. As the United States grew and people moved West, the demand for beef in the Northern states grew. Cowboys and cowgirls drove nearly 5 million head of cattle north, sparking tales, legends, and a rich history of the Great Plains in their boot and hoof steps.

Cowboy Camp

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Mike Reed

 

In the first moments of Cowboy Camp, Avery sizes up the other kids (both boys and girls) and decides he “was all wrong.” Not only is his belt buckle too big and his hat too small, but his name is completely UNcowboy. When the Camp leader, Cowboy Dan, introduces himself, Avery thinks he is “the realest looking cowboy” he’s ever seen. Cowboy Dan promises to turn the “little ragamuffins” into real walkin’, talkin’ cowboys. But first a chow time of grits and beans!

All the other buckaroos dig into their plate eagerly, but Avery spits out his very first bite and is relegated to eating cheese and crackers. “Whoever heard of a cowboy who doesn’t like grits and beans?” Avery thinks. Next up, announces Dan, is horse riding. All the kids saddle up. “It wasn’t but a minute later” though that Avery starts sneezing and has to ride a cow instead.

Surely, lassoing will be easier, he reasons. “It wasn’t but a minute later,” however, that his hands are red and chaffed with rope burn and he has to practice with yarn. “Whoever heard of a cowboy who got rope burn?” he thinks. A bit dejected, Avery sits in front of the campfire trying to think cowboy thoughts after all the other kids have “turned in for some shut-eye.” “It wasn’t but a minute later that Avery discovered he wasn’t alone.” Creeping out of the shadows is the meanest looking cowboy Avery has ever seen.

“‘I’m Black Bart,’” the mean looking cowboy says. He tells Avery that he’s there to put a stop to Cowboy Camp because “‘Cowboy Dan and his gang of good cowboys are makin’ it too hard to be a bad guy.’” Avery does some quick thinking. He doesn’t want anything to happen to Cowboy Dan or the camp. He stutters out that this isn’t Cowboy Camp, but Space Camp. Black Bart isn’t so easily fooled. Sensing disaster, Avery gives himself up as proof: “‘Sir,’” asks Avery, “‘Do I look like cowboy material?’”

To root out the truth Black Bart gives Avery three tests. First he opens a can of beans from his saddlebag. “‘All cowboys eat beans,’” Bart exclaims. Avery takes a tiny taste from the can and begins coughing and wheezing. “‘Hmm…’” says Bart. Next he sets Avery on his horse. “‘All cowboys ride horses,’” Bart exclaims, but as soon as Avery sits astride the horse, he begins sneezing. “‘Hmm…’” says Bart. He hands Avery his rope. “‘All cowboys know how to lasso,’” Bart exclaims. Avery grabs the rope and immediately begins crying in pain.

Black Bart has seen enough. “‘You’re no cowboy,’” he agrees. With time a wastin’ to find and stop the real cowboys, Black Bart saddles up and turns his horse toward the rising sun. “‘It wasn’t but a minute later’” that the other campers and Cowboy Dan arrive. Dan congratulates Avery on his bravery and quick wit and proclaims that “‘No one but a real cowboy could outsmart the likes of Black Bart the way you just did.’” Avery smiles. He finally feels like a “real honest-to-goodness cowboy.”

In Avery, Tammi Sauer has created a welcome hero—a boy who uses his individual talents of intelligence and bravery to defeat the bad guy and comes to realize that he does fit into the group. Sauer’s witty plot line is a joy to read and offers real surprise when Black Bart appears on the scene. Bart’s “cowboy test” in which Avery’s supposed failings become his greatest assets is inspired. The realistic dialogue with a Western twang transports kids to the Great Plains and is fun to read, while the repeated “uh-oh” moment—“It wasn’t but a minute later that Avery discovered…”—elicits suspense and will have kids reading along.

Mike Reed beautifully captures the allure of the Wild West in his humorous, sometimes larger-than-life illustrations. The golden plains of Cowboy Camp stretch to the red-rock plateaus in the distance while scrub grass and cacti pop up here and there. Cowboy Dan has a chin almost as long as his 20-gallon hat is tall, and Black Bart is perfectly scruffy and menacing, with a long black coat and bolo tie, as he creeps out of the midnight blue shadows to confront Avery by campfire light. Kids will both sympathize with Avery’s travails even as they giggle at his evocative pexpressions.

An ingenious bit of illustration occurs in Reed’s depiction of Avery. Although Avery feels as if his belt buckle is too big and his hat too small, in reality both of these are the same size as the other kids. Moreover, a side-by-side comparison with Cowboy Dan, the “realest cowboy,” shows that Avery looks almost identical to his hero with both wearing grey vests and hats. (You can even measure the hats for yourself!) In addition, the other campers are all different in some way, emphasizing the idea that everyone is unique and has their own place in any group and the world in general.

Both for the wonderful story and the burst of confidence building provided, Cowboy Camp belongs on every young reader’s bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 9

Sterling Publishing Co., 2014 | ISBN 978-1454913603

To view more of Tammi Sauer’s books and learn what she’s working on next, visit her website!

National Day of the Cowboy Activity

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The Best Durn Tootin’ Cowboy and Cowgirl Coloring Pages

 

Well, buckaroos, here’s your chance to create your own Wild West scene. Just print out these Best Durn Tootin’ Coloring Pages and have a rip roarin’ blast!

July 14 – Shark Awareness Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-coverAbout the Holiday

Today we take a moment to consider the benefits sharks provide to the marine ecosystem. Every year thousands of sharks die and their species threatened due to misconceptions and misuse. As a predator at the top of the food chain, sharks play a crucial role in maintaining balance within the ocean. Protecting this often-misunderstood species is an important goal.

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time?

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Michael Slack

 

Deep in the ocean two friends do everything together and life is almost perfect as they swim over ship wrecks, under reefs, and all around. Nugget and Fang are as close as two friend can be—there’s just one thing: Nugget is a minnow while Fang is a shark. Neither of them consider their friendship unusual—until Nugget goes to school. There during Reading, Nugget hears the story of The Three Little Minnows and the Big, Bad Shark. “‘Ha!’” says Nugget. “‘Impossible!’”

During Math class the students solve a word problem: “What if there were ten minnows and a shark came along and ate four of them? How many minnows are left?” Nugget is scandalized. “‘A shark would never do that!’” he says. But Science period reveals the facts of the Marine Food Chain. Nugget protests that sharks aren’t scary. “‘My best friend is a shark!’” he announces. His classmates are shocked. “Have you lost your gills?” one asks. Another snarks, “Hello—sharks eat minnows!” Nugget can’t believe it.

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Image copyright Michael Slack, courtesy of hmhbooks.com/nuggetandfang

Back home Nugget gives Fang the bad news. “‘Sounds fishy to me,’” says Fang. Nugget assures him it’s true before swimming far away. “Fang’s heart sank.” He can’t help if he’s “toothy,” he thinks, and he knows he doesn’t mean to be scary. He wants his best friend back. To prove it Fang tries different tactics. On Tuesday he dresses like a mermaid, but Nugget and the other fish see through his disguise. “‘Oh, my algae!’” exclaims Nugget. On Wednesday Fang sends a beautiful sea plant arrangement with a note—“Dear Nugget, I’d love to have you over for dinner.”—which is misinterpreted in the worst possible way. On Thursday Fang pulls out all the stops. He gets a “Nugget” tattoo, sends a special message and gift, and performs an original song and dance, but nothing works.

On Friday Fang is sadly resigned to being alone. While he mopes and cries, he doesn’t see that a fishing net has been lowered to the ocean floor, capturing Nugget and the other minnows. “Help!” shouts Nugget as the net is slowly lifted. Fang wrings his fins, uncertain of what to do. Suddenly, he has an idea. With his big sharp teeth he chomps and chews and tears the net to pieces. Nugget and the minnows swim to safety. They all stare at Fang wide-eyed.

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Image copyright Michael Slack, courtesy of hmhbooks.com/nuggetandfang

Fang dejectedly begins to swim away. “‘I know, I know,’” he says, “‘I’m toothy. Too scary. Too…shark.’” “Wait!” calls Nugget and uses a little math of his own. “‘There were ten minnows, and a very special shark came along. How many friends are there altogether?’” Now eleven friends live happily deep in the ocean, and everyone—especially Fang—are all smiles.

Tammi Sauer’s tribute to true friendship reveals the danger when “facts” take precedence over what you know in your heart to be true. Her reminder to listen to your inner voice is approached with humor and the honest types of doubts that can niggle and cloud judgement. Throughout the story, her language is accessible and kid-conversational, including puns that will elicit giggles. Sauer’s use of a math word problem to both highlight contrary thinking and provide a solution underscores the influence of education. Nugget & Fang is a wonderful book for kids navigating the school and activities environment while making new—and keeping old—friendships.

Michael Slack immediately sets kids in the right mindset with his bright, cartoon-inspired illustrations. Tiny, colorful Nugget and bold, blue Fang, his “toothiness” on display through his big grin, make a happy, nonchalant pair. They play together through vibrant green, yellow, and purple reefs unaware of marine stereotypes. When Nugget gets “schooled”, his astounded expressions and those of his classmates, humorously depict their predicament. The ocean environment gives Slack an opportunity for plenty of visual jokes and innovation. The Reading teacher holds a clamshell-shaped book, a piece of shipwrecked board serves as a Math blackboard, and the Science food chain poster is appropriately scary. Kids will laugh at Fang’s attempts at reconciliation, and cheer when he becomes a hero.

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time? is sure to be a favorite story time read!

Ages 4 – 9

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013 | ISBN 978-0544481718

Will everything go swimmingly for Nugget and Fang? Watch the trailer and see!

To learn more about Tammi Sauer and her books, visit her website!

View a gallery of work by Michael Slack on his website!

Visit the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Nugget & Fang page for more goodies!

Shark Awareness Day Activity

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Looking Sharp, Sharks! Coloring Page

 

Sharks are some of the most fascinating creatures in the sea. Have fun decorating this printable Looking Sharp, Sharks! Coloring Page—get creative with textures, colors, and materials!