July 16 – It’s Culinary Arts Month

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About the Holiday

This month we celebrate the culinary arts from entrees to desserts to everything in between. July is also a great time to honor the chefs, cooks, and bakers who continually develop new dishes, create exciting taste sensations, and make dining out an event to look forward to. Of course, during this month we also thank those home chefs who prepare healthy meals for their families every day. To celebrate the holiday, go out to your favorite restaurant or try a new place. At home, get the kids involved in making meals or special treats. Cooking together is a terrific way to spend time together, and today’s book can get you started!

United Tastes of America: An Atlas of Food Facts & Recipes from Every State

Written by Gabrielle Langholtz | Illustrations by Jenny Bowers | Photographs by DL Acken

 

If you have a child who loves to cook, who’s a bit of a foodie, or who just likes to chow down, then the mouth-watering, eye-popping United Tastes of America is for them! Young travelers will also appreciate the wanderlust that the recipes and fascinating facts from each state serve up in abundance. Come along on a dip into the vast and varied culinary world of America!

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Image copyright Jenny Bowers, 2019, text copyright Gabrielle Langholtz, 2019. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Starting on the East Coast in the state I grew up in, we visit Florida, where as Gabrielle Langholtz says, the “tropical weather allows farmers to grow all kinds of fruit, including lots of citrus.” The plentiful coastline on this peninsula also provides “fish such as grouper, pompano, and mullet.” Residents from Cuba Jamaica, Haiti, and the Bahamas have brought “Caribbean dishes such as mashed yucca,…fried plantains,…and arroz con pollo.” A slice of refreshing Key lime pie deliciously finishes off any meal. Some other tidbits to gnaw on before getting to the Key Lime Pie recipe on the next page revolve around the Cubano sandwich, conchs, alligators, and stone crabs.

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Image copyright Jenny Bowers, 2019, text copyright Gabrielle Langholtz, 2019. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Moving up the coast and a bit inland, we come to Pennsylvania, where members of the Pennsylvania Dutch community know how to dish up traditional flavors from their German heritage that are still favorites with adults and kids. Some of these include “chicken potpie, ham loaf, egg noodles, and schnitz un knepp, or pork with dried apples.” You’d also find bright pink hard-boiled eggs (colored by pickling them with beets) and hinkelhatz, a hot pepper used to make sauerkraut from homegrown cabbage. Other local delicacies include button mushrooms (“The tiny town of Kennett Square, home to only six thousand people, grows more than a million pounds of mushrooms each week! That’s half of all the mushrooms farmed in America.”), chow chow, cheese steak, scrapple, and pepper pot. Turn the page and you’ll find a recipe for Soft Pretzels, a well-deserved pride of Pennsylvania.

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Photograph copyright DL Ackers, 2019, text copyright Gabrielle Langholtz, 2019. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Trekking into the very middle of the country, we discover Missouri, which in addition to it’s tasty treats has a distinctive connection to home cooks everywhere. In 1931 Missouri resident Irma Rombauer “published 3,000 copies of The Joy of Cooking…. Irma’s book showed American food in a time of change.” While it contained recipes “for farm foods, like pickles, pie, and even possum…The Joy of Cooking also included recipes for canned ingredients, which many people saw as the foods of the future.” Irma may have been inspired by hearty Missouri fare like steak (a favorite ever since cowboys began bringing cattle from the southwest to the rail yards in Kansas City, MO), black walnuts from the Ozark Mountains, toasted ravioli, introduced by the state’s Italian immigrants, and partridge, a purported fave of Mark Twain. When you’re ready to create a true Missouri original, turn to the recipe for St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake that is a “creamy-on-the-inside and crisp-on-the-sugary-top treat.”

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Image copyright Jenny Bowers, 2019, text copyright Gabrielle Langholtz, 2019. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Travel down and west a few states to find New Mexico and its spicy cuisine. Known for its chile peppers (when you order be prepared to answer “the state’s official question ‘red or green?’”), New Mexico boasts home cooks and restaurants who can really highlight this hot ingredient. You can enjoy Posole, which is hominy simmered with green chiles and shredded pork or chicken; carne adovada, “pork cooked in red chile sauce with vinegar” and served with warm tortillas; and spicy pie, which is “apple pie baked with spicy Hatch chiles and often eaten with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.” If you want to try something non-spicy, take a taste of prickly pear or piñon nuts. Hungry for a cookie with a bit of snap? Try the recipe for the anise-flavored Biscochitos, the official state cookies of New Mexico, that pair nicely with hot chocolate.

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Photograph copyright DL Ackers, 2019, text copyright Gabrielle Langholtz, 2019. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Finally, this culinary caravan reaches the west coast and Oregon’s diverse flavor sensations. On the coast, fish and seafood as well as fiddlehead ferns, chanterelle mushrooms, and berries are seasonal treats. The Cascade Mountains offer more fishing, and in the valleys below fruit orchards provide apricots, peaches, pears, and apples. Foodies will be interested in snapshots that include the fact that “Oregon grows 99 percent of America’s hazelnuts” and that “scientists at Oregon State University developed delicious new berry varieties that include marionberries and tayberries.” You can get your day off to a healthy start with the hearty recipe for Granola with Hazelnuts and Cherries.

In addition to pages and recipes from the fifty states, United Tastes of America also includes culinary highlights from Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

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Image copyright Jenny Bowers, 2019, text copyright Gabrielle Langholtz, 2019. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Before kids and adults get cooking, Gabrielle Langholtz packs the front matter with cooking tips, descriptions of nine cooking methods, helpful cooking how-tos, an illustrated and descriptive guide to kitchen tools, and a map of the United States and its territories. Two indexes in the back of the book help readers find information presented in the text and also present the recipes by level of difficulty from Easier than Average to Average Difficulty to Harder than Average. Most recipes fall within the Easier and Average categories. Her light, conversational introductions to each state will pique the interest of foodies, history lovers, and travelers alike.

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Photograph copyright DL Ackers, 2019, text copyright Gabrielle Langholtz, 2019. Courtesy of Phaidon.

Each state is introduced with a two-page spread spotlighted with Jenny Bowers’ vivid, bold typography that names the state and presides over a silhouette of the state which hosts charming depictions of the interesting morsels of culinary information. Every recipe is clearly and beautifully photographed by DL Acken and presented in a way that is irresistibly enticing.

A cookbook that goes beyond its culinary roots, United Tastes of America will appeal to both kids and adults. It is a book that will be as welcome in the classroom for geography and social studies lessons (with a side dish of tastings) as in the kitchen, and is highly recommended for home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 8 – 11 and up (these are terrific family recipes that all ages will enjoy)

Phaidon, 2019 | ISBN 978-0714878621

You can connect with Gabrielle Langholtz on Instagram and Twitter

You can find a portfolio of work by Jenny Bowers on her website.

Discover more about DL Acken and her photography on her website.

Culinary Arts Month Activity

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My Family’s Recipe Box, Label, and Cards

 

Holidays are a perfect time for kids to learn traditional or favorite family recipes. With this easy craft and printable label and recipe cards, children can create their own unique recipe box.

Supplies

  • A tea bag box, such as Tetley Tea or another appropriately sized box with a lid that overlaps the front edge
  • Printable Recipe Box Label | Printable Recipe Cards
  • Washi tape
  • Heavy stock printing paper
  • Adhesive printing paper (optional)
  • Glue (optional)

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celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-recipe-cards

Directions

  1. Cover the box in washi tape
  2. Print the label on adhesive printing paper or regular paper
  3. Stick label to box or attach with glue
  4. Print recipe cards on heavy stock paper
  5. Write down favorite recipes and store them in your recipe box

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You can find United Tastes of America at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

May 12 – National Train Day

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About the Holiday

There’s something about trains with their click-clack rhythm and plaintive whistle that endears this mode of transportation to adults and kids. Today’s holiday honors all the mystery and romance of train travel while also remembering the history of the railroad and its importance to the development of the United States. The holiday was once sponsored by Amtrak, but train lovers across the country are keeping it on track. To celebrate, visit a train or transportation museum, take a short trip on your local commuter rail, or even plan a vacation trip by train. 

Trains Don’t Sleep

Written by Andria Rosenbaum | Illustrated by Deirdre Gill

 

In the darkened forest cut by train tracks, the train approaches. Its headlight shines and its wheels “rumbling, grumbling, screech and squeal.” Without stopping the train continues “puffing, chuffing, never yawning. / Climbing hills as day is dawning.” It never sleeps but hurries on to each station on its route, picking up passengers from small towns and big cities and letting them ride to their destination.

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Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

But there are other trains on the rails that stay up all night too. Trains that “tow / Freight and flat cars in a row.” Chugging through forests and deep canyons, freight trains pull tenders, reefers, logging cars, hoppers, boxcars, and auto racks through tunnels and over bridges and “sky-high” trestles, never once being “afraid of heights.”

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Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Through all kinds of weather, “in rain or snow, / trains will trudge and go, Go, GO!” When cars and trucks are stuck in jams, trains zip past. “Trains don’t sleep—they need to lead. / Roaring, rushing, gaining speed.” Trains don’t stop at traffic lights, but make cars wait as they go by. The circus train is always welcome with its cars filled with tents and animals and performers.

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Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

As afternoon softens to dusk, the train’s light begins to shine. “Trekking toward the setting sun, / Trains are always on the run.” But as the moon rises and night settles in, “the wheels will whisper / Shush, shush, shush.” The station glows with cozy light as travelers come and go, ready to ride or go home to bed. Then it’s time to leave the station behind because “Trains don’t sleep—they roll away, / Racing toward a brand new day.”

An illustrated look at different kinds of trains and train cars follows the text.

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Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Andria Rosenbaum’s lovely story is part tribute, part lullaby as it takes readers on a lyrical journey cross country on passenger and freight trains. Her refrain “trains don’t sleep,” focusing on the dependability of trains as they chug along day and night over all terrain and in all weather, can also be read as a homage to a parent or caregiver’s love which, likewise, “never sleeps.” Rosenbaum’s sparkling rhymes beautifully convey the dichotomy of a train’s movement that seems to thunder through the daylight hours while slipping tranquilly through the night.

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Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Deirdre Gill’s gorgeous illustrations depict locomotives with tender affection and all the excitement train travel offers. Gill’s use of various perspectives—from a train’s approach from afar to its accepting passengers at the station to an aerial view as it snakes along winding tracks—provides all the mystery, majesty, and pleasure that this favorite mode of transportation provides. Throughout, Gill’s color palette and choices of scene, architecture, automobiles, and even clothing fuse the past and present to create a fully realized look at our love of trains.

Delightful from beginning to end, Trains Don’t Sleep is a heartfelt and heartening story for bedtime or story time, and would be a favorite of train lovers and any child with a bit of wanderlust in their soul.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0544380745

Discover more about Andria Rosenbaum and her books on her website

To learn more about Deirdre Gill, her books and her art, visit her website.

National Train Day Activity
celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-train-dot-to-dotRiding the Rails Dot to Dot

 

Taking a trip by train long distance can be fun—especially if you travel overnight in a sleeper car! Instead of counting sheep, count and follow the numbers in this printable Riding the Rails Dot to Dot.

Picture Book Review

February 15 – National Flag Day of Canada

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About the Holiday

On February 15, 1965 the national flag of Canada was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. National Flag Day of Canada was officially established in 1996. As Canadians celebrate the 53rd anniversary of their flag this year, they can take special pride as they watch their Olympic team strive for glory in Pyeongchang, South Korea under their distinctive maple-leaf flag. All across the country today, Canadians are cheering their athletes and their flag.

Carson Crosses Canada

Written by Linda Bailey | Illustrated by Kass Reich

 

Annie Magruder and her little dog, Carson, had a pretty great life living along the shore of the Pacific Ocean. One day a letter arrived for Annie from her sister Elsie. Elsie was sick and needed cheering up so Annie packed her bags, loaded up her camping gear, and “filled a cooler with baloney sandwiches.” For Carson she brought along dog food and of course Squeaky Chicken. They pulled away from their house and headed east.

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Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

“All morning they drove in the rattlebang car.” Were they there yet? Carson wanted to know. But they were on a loooong trip—all across Canada, Annie told him. She also said there’d be a surprise for him at the end. “Carson loved surprises. Squeaky Chicken had been a surprise. Every time Carson chewed, he got a brand-new noise. Skreeeee! Wheeeee! Iiiiiy!”

Twisty roads took them into the Rocky Mountains, where Annie pitched her tent for the night. Carson stood guard, watching for bears. The next day they rolled into dinosaur country. Carson could hardly control his excitement at seeing the enormous bones. Could this be his surprise? But Carson didn’t get to take a single bite—not even a little lick.

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Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

On day three they came to flat farmland, where “grain grew in carpets—yellow, blue, gold.” While Annie admired the wide-open sky during a picnic lunch, Carson chased after grasshoppers, finally snatching one for his dessert. On the next day, the sun was so hot that as Annie and Carson drove past Lake Winnipeg, they stopped to take a dip.

After that there were more days and even more days spent in the car passing forests of trees and boulders. Carson passed the time barking and wondering about his surprise. At night, when he and Annie camped, they listened to the loons calling, “Ooo-wooooo. Ooo-hoo-hoo.” When they reached Niagara Falls, they stopped to watch the thundering water and got soaked with its spray.

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Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

In Quebec City, Annie and Carson enjoyed French delights, including a pork pie called tourtière, which Carson gobbled up in two bites. Was this their destination? Oh, no—they still had a ways to go! Once, while Carson was napping, he heard Annie shout, “‘Look! The Atlantic Ocean!’” Carson was so thrilled to see an ocean once more that he ran to the edge and rolled in the mud until he was covered.

The next day brought “an island of red and green” as pretty as a postcard plus lobster rolls for two. Here, Annie told Carson, they were getting close. There was still one night’s stop, however. “In the campground that night, there was fiddle music—so friendly and fast, it made everyone dance. Annie clapped and jigged. Carson chased his tail.” With the promise of “‘tomorrow’” whispered in his ear, Carson fell asleep.

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Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

A ferry ride took them to Elsie’s. Her “house stood waiting beside the ocean. It was red like the house back home. Out came a woman who looked like Annie. Her steps were slow, but her smile was as wide as the sea.” Annie and her sister hugged for a long time until Carson yipped, looking for his surprise. Bounding toward him came a dog that looked “so much like Carson, it was like looking into a mirror.” It was his brother, Digby! They hadn’t seen each other since they were puppies. Spending time with Annie and Carson was just what Elsie needed. The four “loved the salt air. They loved the red house. And they loved their sweet time together.”

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Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

For young armchair travelers, Linda Bailey has crafted a wonderful story that combines the best of sightseeing with an emotional tug that is warm and uplifting. The love between Annie and Carson is evident from the first page and swells as they reunite with Elsie and Digby, taking readers along for the rewarding ride. Bailey’s lyrical and humorous view of Canada’s expansive beauty through the eyes of both Annie and Carson will delight kids and leave them wanting to learn more. The reaffirmation that family stays strong even across many miles will cheer children and adult readers alike.

Kass Reich’s gorgeous hand-painted gouache illustrations put children in the back seat of the little, well-packed “rattlebang” car with sweet Carson on a tour of Canada. They’ll view awesome redwood trees, majestic mountains, the bone yards of Dinosaur Provincial Park, Quebec City, fields, lakes, and clear nights. Reich’s vivid colors and rich details invite kids to linger over the pages and learn even more about Canada. Little ones will also like pointing out Squeaky Chicken, who is happily enjoying the trip as well.

The book’s endpapers provide a colorful map of Canada with Carson and Annie’s route clearly marked along with their sightseeing stops.

Carson Crosses Canada is a sweet, beautiful book that kids will want to read again and again. It would be a wonderful addition to home and library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Tundra Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1101918838  

Discover more about Linda Bailey and her books on her website!

You can learn more about Kass Reich and her books as well as view a portfolio of her illustration work on her website!

National Flag Day of Canada Day Activity

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Make Me a Moose! Headband

 

Moose love calling Canada home! With this easy craft you can turn your hand prints into cute antlers to wear!

Supplies

  • Stiff brown paper
  • Brown hair band
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Directions

  1. Trace your hands with fingers spread on the brown paper. Leave a 1 – 2 inch tab on the end of the wrist for wrapping around the head band
  2. Cut out the hand prints
  3. Place one hand print on the right side of the headband with the thumb of the hand pointing up.
  4. Wrap the tab around the headband and secure with tape
  5. Place the second hand print on the left side of the headband with the thumb pointing up.
  6. Wrap the tab around the headband and secure with tape
  7. Enjoy being a Canadian Moose!

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You can find Carson Crosses Canada at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

November 22 – Go for a Ride Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday celebrates the joy of going for a ride to explore the unknown, revisit a favorite place, or spend time with friends or family. Whether you choose to go by bike, car, train, or plane, getting away can broaden your horizons and provide a much-needed dose of relaxation. November 22, coming close to the holiday season and commemorating several vehicle-related patents, is the perfect opportunity to go for that ride you’ve been wanting to take. Children, especially, love the excitement of and benefit from the new experience of travel.

Molly & Mae: A Friendship Journey

Written by Danny Parker | Illustrated by Freya Blackwood

 

Waiting on the platform at the little train station, “Molly found Mae beneath a bench” then “Mae found Molly in the newspaper shop.” They spent their coins in the bubblegum machine and sat on a bench blowing big pink bubbles. “After that, Molly and Mae were stuck.” To pass the time they took pictures in the photo booth, walked a tightrope line on the floor, twirled like ballerinas, shared sherbet and secrets, and vowed to be friends forever.

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Image copyright Freya Blackwood, 2017, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

On the train they played with their dolls, got hungry, bounced on the seats and hung from the backs, skipped up the aisle, crawled under the seats, lounged in the seats, and played I Spy. But then Molly and Mae had an argument. Molly thought her younger friend was “silly,” and “Mae was tired of being bossed around.” They sat in silence watching the rain splatter the windows and the gray, misty world pass by.

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Image copyright Freya Blackwood, 2017, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

“Drawing on the glass, Molly and Mae missed each other.” Molly glanced at Mae and snuck under the seat and peeked at Mae. “Then she took the words she should have said and started to build a bridge.” Mae apologized and explained too “until the bridge was strong enough to hold them both.” As the train traveled on, the sky cleared and the girls saw hills, lakes, and bridges and zipped through dark tunnels. At night they watched the twinkling stars as the train passed through crossings in small towns until it reached their destination. Molly and Mae packed up their things and jumped onto the platform holding hands. Then they left the station together.

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Image copyright Freya Blackwood, 2017, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Danny Parker wonderfully captures the capacity for children to form deeply felt friendships that may only last a day or, under the right circumstances, can last a lifetime. As Molly and Mae bond over their common boredom in waiting for the train, they enjoy common jokes, treats, and games. But as the day wears on, they become short with each other, and their friendship is threatened. Molly’s willingness to apologize, and Mae’s eager reciprocation are welcome examples of how to mend hurt feelings. Parker’s simple, yet lyrical storytelling allows children to read between the lines and fill in their own similar experiences that makes Molly and Mae a beautiful universal story about the journey of life.

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Image copyright Freya Blackwood, 2017, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Freya Blackwood’s lovely illustrations give readers so much to see and talk about as Molly and Mae meet and spend the day together in the station and on the train. Rendered in quiet sepia tones, the images of the train station and the interior of the train cars could depict any trains anywhere in the world. The girls, in their colorful clothing and horsing around with the excitement of the journey and a new-found playmate, are the focal point of each spread. When their argument occurs, the pastel green fields and blue sky out the windows turn grey as rain pours down.

As Molly and Mae find words to rebuild their friendship, the train traverses a stone bridge, and as the girls make up, the sky once again turns sunny. Clever split pages give cut-away views of the train’s interior on top and bottom while the progress of the trip is shown in the middle, and the rectangular shape of the book allows for long two-page spreads that mirror the length of the train and also, perhaps, the long future friendship to come.

Molly and Mae: A Friendship Journey is a gorgeous quiet book for reflective children. With its detailed illustrations, it is also a wonderful book to share before a train trip or to take along on the journey.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1328715432

Discover more about Danny Parker and his books on his website

To learn more about Freya Blackwood, her art, and her books, visit her website

Go for a Ride Day Activity

Let's Go for a Ride!-v6Hb1

Let’s Go for a Ride! Word Search Puzzle

 

There are so many ways to go for a ride! Find the twenty types of transportation in this printable Let’s Go for a Ride! Word Search Puzzle. Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

September 27 – World Tourism Day

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About the Holiday

Sometimes don’t you just feel like getting in the car, hopping a plane, or boarding a ship and getting away? Today’s holiday encourages you to do just that! If there’s a place near—or far—that you’ve always wanted to visit, why not take some time to check it out. Or if you’re dreaming of a vacation that takes some planning, hit the Internet for travel information or explore the maps to plot your route. This year World Tourism Day, a United Nations-sponsored commemoration, is being celebrated with the theme “Sustainable Tourism—a Tool for Development,” and urges mindful attention to all sectors of the industry in order to make tourism a beneficial experience for all those involved.

The 50 States: Fun Facts

Written by Gabrielle Balkan | Illustrated by Sol Linero

 

America is one vast country made up of 50 states that are each unique and fascinating in their own way. The history, people, topography, and even weather of each region has resulted in an incredible diversity of animal life, cuisine, transportation, leisure activities, and celebrations across the nation. The 50 States: Fun Facts offers up a patchwork of engaging and enlightening information about each state that will entice kids to learn more about their own home as well as other areas.

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Image copyright Sol Linero, text copyright Gabrielle Balkan. Courtesy of Eyes Wide Editions, Aurum Press.

The large-format board book is divided into five two-page spreads, each dedicated to a particular topic. In 50 Animals readers discover that the first Seeing Eye dogs were trained in Nashville, Tennessee; that “the colors of Maryland’s state cat—the Calico Cat—match the state flag”; and that there are so many moose in Wyoming that there’s even a town named Moose! From state to state kids will also learn about the Chinook Dog of New Hampshire, meet white buffalo that roam North Dakota, and view the state insect of Connecticut—the praying mantis, which can turn its head 360 degrees—among many, many more.

Each state is also known for its own, particular mode of transportation. In Alaska the Tlingit Nation builds beautiful canoes, each of which, the people believe, are inhabited by its own spirit. If you’re interested in scanning the skies for alien lifeforms, you may want to head to the San Luis Valley of Colorado, which is considered to be prime UFO-spotting territory! If boats are more your thing, you might want to take a houseboat vacation in the lakes around Jamestown, Kentucky, or see a Navy Destroyer at the shipyard in Bath, Maine. Carousel lovers will want to take the road to Rhode Island, where they can catch the gold ring on the Flying Horse Carousel that has been going round and round for nearly 150 years! There are so many more Things That Go on these pages, including trains, trucks, trolleys, and a 16-story electric shovel!

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Image copyright Sol Linero, text copyright Gabrielle Balkan. Courtesy of Eyes Wide Editions, Aurum Press.

After all that activity, readers may be a bit hungry. All they need to do is flip the page to find 50 Things to Eat—specialties from around the nation. Whether you call them blackberries or brambleberries, these sweet nuggets—Kentucky’s state fruit—are great alone or in special treats. If you love pretzels, then the pretzel festival in Germantown, Ohio is for you! Spicy foods more your style? Then you’ll want to check out Hatch, New Mexico—the chili capital of the world! After having Delaware’s chicken specialty, catfish from Mississippi, or potatoes from Idaho, you may just want to try a banana split—first served in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1904—or even nosh on a few roasted Joshua Tree flower buds that are said to taste like candy.

Ready to work off that meal? The next page provides 50 Ways to Get Moving, including archery in California, rafting in West Virginia, base jumping in Utah, snowshoeing in Minnesota, and snorkeling in Hawaii. 

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Image copyright Sol Linero, text copyright Gabrielle Balkan. Courtesy of Eyes Wide Editions, Aurum Press.

Celebrations have been part of America since the first Thanksgiving, and each state has a entertaining—often quirky—spectacular to highlight their history or specialty. In Nebraska the old Pony Express mail system is reenacted every June; The Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Festival brings musicians and fans to West Plains, Missouri each year; and Honobia, Oklahoma’s Bigfoot Festival makes believers of us all—well, almost.

In Florida, you can learn how to wrestle an alligator with the Miccosukee tribe on American Indian Day; you can test your mettle on 98 flights of stairs during Washington’s Space Needle Base 2 Space Race for charity; and “you can cheer on bronc riders at the ‘Daddy of All Rodeos’” during Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. Perhaps  the oddest celebration is Mike the Headless Chicken Festival held every May in Fruita, Colorado that commemorates “a rooster that lived for 18 months…with no head!”

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Image copyright Sol Linero, text copyright Gabrielle Balkan. Courtesy of Eyes Wide Editions, Aurum Press.

Each spread also offers a sidebar scavenger hunt of sorts as it asks readers to see if they can find four different categories of items among the rest. After kids have soaked up all the facts about the 50 states, they can test their knowledge of American geography by completing the included jigsaw puzzle map.

Gabrielle Balkan has collected tons of engaging facts about the United States that are sure to delight and amaze children. Each category would be a wonderful starting point for learning about any or all of the states and gives kids an idea of the variety found across America. Sol Linero’s striking category “quilts,” composed of colorful patches decorated with clear, engaging illustrations, draw readers in to discover the fascinating facts presented about each state.

Ages 4 – 10

Wide Eyes Editions, Aurum Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1847808691

Discover more about Gabrielle Balkan and her books on her website!

View a gallery of illustration work by Sol Linero on her website!

World Tourism Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-road-map-puzzle

Make a Road Map Jigsaw Puzzle

 

It’s fun and easy to make your own jigsaw puzzle from a map of your local town or a place you’d like to visit!

Supplies

  • A paper map
  • Poster board
  • Glue or spray glue
  • Scissors

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-road-map-puzzle

Directions

  1. Smooth out the paper map
  2. Glue the map to the poster board
  3. Cut the poster board into interlocking or adjoining pieces (the number of pieces can depend on the child’s age)

Picture Book Review

August 1 – It’s Family Fun Month

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About the Holiday

Summer vacation is winding down (already?!), but there’s still plenty of time to get the family together for some fun. Whether you take a trip to a faraway place or stay closer to home, there are parks, movies, attractions, sports, and, of course, libraries and bookstores to explore. Today’s book also gives you a good idea for an activity that adults and kids can do together.

Lucky to Live in Connecticut

By Kate B. Jerome

 

This “Read Together—Do Together” book, just one in the 41-book series that focuses on different states in America, is part picture book, part scrapbook, and wholly fun! It begins with an upbeat rhyme that makes kids feel great about the place where they live: “Connecticut is home—and I think quite a lot / that I’m lucky to live in this wonderful spot. / Why is it special? That’s easy to see. / It’s the place that begins the whole story of me!”

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Copyright Kate R. Jerome, 2017. Courtesy of Arcadia Publishing.

On the next page a dapper fox invites kids to draw a picture of themselves on the blank, white page and add their name and age. This personal travelogue of the state of Connecticut begins close to home with a little blue house just waiting for an address and a note about a favorite spot nearby. While kids are filling these in, they also learn that “Connecticut is in the northeastern part of the United States.”

Since Connecticut is well-known for its hospitality, two praying mantises—the Connecticut state insect—are pouring out tea for the reader and a friend, whose name gets added to the page. Turning the page, kids find more spots to add friends’ names as well as the name of a favorite activity.

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Copyright Kate B. Jerome, 2017. Courtesy of Arcadia Publishing.

Feeling hungry? Well, you’ve come to the right place! “Connecticut cooks are so skilled they can please any guest. / (No surprise that they think homemade food is the best.)” And what foods do locals and guests enjoy? Lobster rolls, apple cider, and apple cider donuts. But what do the readers like? They can write their favorites in the puffy chef’s hat the little fox provides!

There’s so much to see and do in Connecticut! Just a few of the fun attractions you can visit are: Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, the Connecticut Science Center, and the New England Air Museum. Add the places you like to visit best right alongside these. Everyone supports a certain team—whether professional or local. “Go ahead! Color the T-shirt in your team colors!”

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Copyright Kate B. Jerome, 2017. Courtesy of Arcadia Publishing.

With its ocean shoreline, lakes, hills, rivers, farms, fields, and lots and lots of trees, Connecticut is also home to a wide variety of animals, birds, and fish. Which ones do you like best? Write their names or draw their pictures on the page provided. Many famous people come from Connecticut. A few are: Barbara McClintock, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist; Noah Webster, the author of the first English dictionary; and Annie Leibovitz, a photographer. Who is your hero? Write their name and say why.

Good music can be found in all parts of Connecticut, from local bands to famous orchestras. Remind your future self of your favorite songs on the little spiral notebook page. There are plenty of inventors in Connecticut too! What are you good at making? “In this state celebrations are always great fun. / People laughing and sharing is just how it’s done.” Doesn’t the three-layer cake on the next page look scrumptious? Two layers are just waiting for you to write in your fav celebrations.

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Copyright Kate B. Jerome, 2017. Courtesy of Arcadia Publishing.

By now the scrapbook is getting full, so let’s add just a couple more things. It’s always fun to look back on what you wanted to do when you grew up. A musician, a construction worker, and a doctor all are excited to see what you will say. Two final pages let you create a family tree and trace your hand. As you close your book you will always know:

“As my own story grows I will never forget / all the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. / Yes the memories I have of this wonderful place / are the ones that will always bring smiles to my face.”

Directions on how to build a time capsule with children follow the text.

Kate B. Jerome’s clever story and scrapbook makes for a fun family activity. Every child is proud of their state and town, and this book lets them add their personal touches to the things they see and do. Peppered with trivia and local shout-outs, the book will delight kids who will respond to hearing familiar names and seeing other favorites. The pages provided for drawing and writing give young children plenty of space for their creations. The illustrations are vibrant, friendly, and welcoming, inviting kids to spend time to make memories they’ll look back on fondly.

Ages 4 – 7

Arcadia Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-0738527963

Discover more about Kate B. Jerome, her books and her illustration work on her website!

National Family Fun Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-lights-on-lights-off (2)

Lights On-Lights Off Game

 

This easy memory game is fun to play with the whole family, and you can be sure that when the lights go out there will be plenty of giggling from little ones.

Supplies

  • Five to twelve (or more) small items
  • A table or floor space

Directions

  1. Lay out a certain number of items on a table or the floor. For younger children use fewer items. Older kids will enjoy the challenge of more items
  2. Give players a certain time to look at the items and memorize them. Young children may need more time than older children.
  3. Turn the lights off and have one person remove one or two items.
  4. Turn the lights back on and let kids figure out which items are missing
  5. Rearrange the items and play again, giving each player a chance to remove an item.

Picture Book Review

July 1 – Canada Day

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About the Holiday

Today commemorates the day in 1867 when the British North American Act (now called the Constitution Act) combined the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a self-governing dominion of Great Britain.  The holiday was known as Dominion Day until 1983 when it was changed to Canada Day with the signing of the Canada Act. Canadians celebrate with special events and ceremonies all across their great land.

Carson Crosses Canada

Written by Linda Bailey | Illustrated by Kass Reich

 

Annie Magruder and her little dog, Carson, had a pretty great life living along the shore of the Pacific Ocean. One day a letter arrived for Annie from her sister Elsie. Elsie was sick and needed cheering up so Annie packed her bags, loaded up her camping gear, and “filled a cooler with baloney sandwiches.” For Carson she brought along dog food and of course Squeaky Chicken. They pulled away from their house and headed east.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-carson-crosses-canada-cover

Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

“All morning they drove in the rattlebang car.” Were they there yet? Carson wanted to know. But they were on a loooong trip—all across Canada, Annie told him. She also said there’d be a surprise for him at the end. “Carson loved surprises. Squeaky Chicken had been a surprise. Every time Carson chewed, he got a brand-new noise. Skreeeee! Wheeeee! Iiiiiy!”

Twisty roads took them into the Rocky Mountains, where Annie pitched her tent for the night. Carson stood guard, watching for bears. The next day they rolled into dinosaur country. Carson could hardly control his excitement at seeing the enormous bones. Could this be his surprise? But Carson didn’t get to take a single bite—not even a little lick.

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Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

On day three they came to flat farmland, where “grain grew in carpets—yellow, blue, gold.” While Annie admired the wide-open sky during a picnic lunch, Carson chased after grasshoppers, finally snatching one for his dessert. On the next day, the sun was so hot that as Annie and Carson drove past Lake Winnipeg, they stopped to take a dip.

After that there were more days and even more days spent in the car passing forests of trees and boulders. Carson passed the time barking and wondering about his surprise. At night, when he and Annie camped, they listened to the loons calling, “Ooo-wooooo. Ooo-hoo-hoo.” When they reached Niagara Falls, they stopped to watch the thundering water and got soaked with its spray.

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Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

In Quebec City, Annie and Carson enjoyed French delights, including a pork pie called tourtière, which Carson gobbled up in two bites. Was this their destination? Oh, no—they still had a ways to go! Once, while Carson was napping, he heard Annie shout, “‘Look! The Atlantic Ocean!’” Carson was so thrilled to see an ocean once more that he ran to the edge and rolled in the mud until he was covered.

The next day brought “an island of red and green” as pretty as a postcard plus lobster rolls for two. Here, Annie told Carson, they were getting close. There was still one night’s stop, however. “In the campground that night, there was fiddle music—so friendly and fast, it made everyone dance. Annie clapped and jigged. Carson chased his tail.” With the promise of “‘tomorrow’” whispered in his ear, Carson fell asleep.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-carson-crosses-canada-quebec

Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

A ferry ride took them to Elsie’s. Her “house stood waiting beside the ocean. It was red like the house back home. Out came a woman who looked like Annie. Her steps were slow, but her smile was as wide as the sea.” Annie and her sister hugged for a long time until Carson yipped, looking for his surprise. Bounding toward him came a dog that looked “so much like Carson, it was like looking into a mirror.” It was his brother, Digby! They hadn’t seen each other since they were puppies. Spending time with Annie and Carson was just what Elsie needed. The four “loved the salt air. They loved the red house. And they loved their sweet time together.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-carson-crosses-canada-elsie's-house

Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Kass Reich. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

For young armchair travelers, Linda Bailey has crafted a wonderful story that combines the best of sightseeing with an emotional tug that is warm and uplifting. The love between Annie and Carson is evident from the first page and swells as they reunite with Elsie and Digby, taking readers along for the rewarding ride. Bailey’s lyrical and humorous view of Canada’s expansive beauty through the eyes of both Annie and Carson will delight kids and leave them wanting to learn more. The reaffirmation that family stays strong even across many miles will cheer children and adult readers alike.

Kass Reich’s gorgeous hand-painted gouache illustrations put children in the back seat of the little, well-packed “rattlebang” car with sweet Carson on a tour of Canada. They’ll view awesome redwood trees, majestic mountains, the bone yards of Dinosaur Provincial Park, Quebec City, fields, lakes, and clear nights. Reich’s vivid colors and rich details invite kids to linger over the pages and learn even more about Canada. Little ones will also like pointing out Squeaky Chicken, who is happily enjoying the trip as well.

The book’s endpapers provide a colorful map of Canada with Carson and Annie’s route clearly marked along with their sightseeing stops.

Carson Crosses Canada is a sweet, beautiful book that kids will want to read again and again. It would be a wonderful addition to home and library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Tundra Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1101918838  

Discover more about Linda Bailey and her books on her website!

You can learn more about Kass Reich and her books as well as view a portfolio of her illustration work on her website!

Canada Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hand-print-moose-antlers-headband

 

Make Me a Moose Headband

 

Moose love calling Canada home! With this easy craft you can turn your hand prints into cute antlers to wear!

Supplies

  • Stiff brown paper
  • Brown hair band
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Directions

  1. Trace your hands with fingers spread on the brown paper. Leave a 1 – 2 inch tab on the end of the wrist for wrapping around the head band
  2. Cut out the hand prints
  3. Place one hand print on the right side of the headband with the thumb of the hand pointing up.
  4. Wrap the tab around the headband and secure with tape
  5. Place the second hand print on the left side of the headband with the thumb pointing up.
  6. Wrap the tab around the headband and secure with tape
  7. Enjoy being a Canadian Moose!

Picture Book Review