February 22 – National Wildlife Day

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About the Holiday

Founded in 2005 by animal behaviorist and philanthropist Colleen Paige, National Wildlife Day was traditionally held on September 4. Today’s date was added to the calendar recently in honor and memory of wildlife activist Steve Irwin’s birthday. The holiday was established to celebrate the diversity of nature and promote the awareness of endangered species worldwide. The day also acknowledges the work of zoos, outstanding animal sanctuaries, and other global organizations in helping to preserve this planet’s animals and educate the public about conservation – especially the children, who are our future conservationists and animal’s caretakers. To celebrate visit an animal sanctuary, zoo, or aquarium—or think about donating your time to a worthy animal cause.

Red Sky at Night

By Elly MacKay

 

The weather is a powerful force of nature, affecting animals, vegetation, and people in beneficial and detrimental ways. Watching and reacting to weather patterns is a specialty of animals as they prepare for long, cold winters, protect themselves from storms, and take advantage of food grown during fair, sunny days. People, too, have paid attention to the weather since earliest times, devising instruments that continue to improve as technology advances to measure rainfall, air pressure, and wind. Long before mechanical instruments took over the forecasting duties, however, sailors, farmers, and others “learned from experience by watching the shapes of clouds or noticing the behavior of animals.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-red-sky-at-night-evening-red-morning-gray

Copyright Elly MacKay, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

They looked to the sky, the ground, and other elements of nature and came up with catchy phrases that reflected cause and effect weather changes. “This wisdom was passed down through sayings like the ones in this book,” which Elly MacKay pairs with her resplendent mixed media illustrations. Perhaps the most well-known saying is “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” and as two children and their grandpa look out their window at the glorious setting sun, readers will be happy to see—along with the little boy who is eagerly holding his fishing pole—that they won’t need the umbrellas in the stand next to the shelf that contains a book on the weather.

Out in their sailboat, Cloud Nine, the grandpa reveals another truism that promises a nice day for fishing on the lake: “When the mist creeps up the hill, fishers, it’s time to try your skill.” As they steer their little boat away from the shore, they can be sure that the sun will smile on them as they see the tiny red insects flying behind them that confirm: “When ladybugs swarm, expect a day that’s warm.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-red-sky-at-night-wind-from-west

Copyright Elly MacKay, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

But if “ring around the moon, rain will come soon” is true, their calm overnight camping trip, may end in a shower. As the children play leapfrog on a grassy hill early in the morning, the sky dawns pink and red—a sure warning! And if the sky isn’t warning enough, the fish leaping to capture a moth for breakfast shows just how true “trout jump high when rain is nigh” is.

The little boat begins to make its way back home, but the wind whips up, and as “seabirds fly to land, / there truly is a storm at hand.” Just as the winds begin to roar, Grandpa and the kids dash for home carrying a net full of the fish they caught. Safe and cozy inside, they sit down to a steaming dinner and smile at each other, happy to be home because they know “the more rain, the more rest. / Fair weather’s not always best.”

Following the story, Elly MacKay offers a fascinating explanation of each of the twenty-three sayings in the book. There is also a short discussion on how MacKay creates her distinctive illustrations created through intricate photographed dioramas.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-red-sky-in-the-morning

Copyright Elly MacKay, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Readers will love following this family as they go about a fishing trip in tranquil weather and come back home just in time to enjoy a hearty meal as the rain pelts down outside. The Mama cat and her five little kittens are also adorable as they pop up here and there throughout the pages and play a part in one particularly interesting saying. Various perspectives and charming details (look for the nod to the picture book This Is Sadie, the pelican motif, and mystical cloud shapes) makes Red Sky at Night a book to dip into whatever the weather at home and in the classroom.

Ages 3 – 7

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1101917831

To learn more about Elly MacKay, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Wildlife Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wonderful-wildlife-board-game

Wonderful Wildlife Board Game

 

Fascinating animals are found in every part of the world. Play this fun printable Wonderful Wildlife Board Game to match each animal to the area where it lives.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print a World Map for each player
  2. Print one set of 16 Wildlife Tokens for each player
  3. Print two copies of the 8-sided die, fold, and tape together
  4. If you would like, color the map and tokens
  5. Choose a player to go first
  6. Each player rolls both dice and places an animal on their map according to these corresponding sums of the dice below
  7. The first player to fill their map is the winner!
  • 1 = Flamingo – South America
  • 2 = Emperor Penguin – Antarctica (Southern Ocean)
  • 3 = Giraffe – Africa
  • 4 = Bald Eagle – North America
  • 5 = Ibex – Europe
  • 6 = Kangaroo – Australia
  • 7 = Panda – Asia
  • 8 = Orca – Antarctica (Southern Ocean)
  • 9 = Toucan – South America
  • 10 = Buffalo – North America
  • 11 = Koala – Australia
  • 12 = Lion – Africa
  • 13 = Etruscan Shrew – Europe
  • 14 = Manta Ray – Pacific Ocean
  • 15 = Sea Turtle – Atlantic Ocean
  • 16 = Tiger – Asia

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-red-sky-at-night-cover

You can find Red Sky at Night at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

October 31 – National Magic Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-magician's-secret-cover

About the Holiday

While there’s lots of magic going on today as little witches and wizards roam neighborhoods across the country casting spells and charming people to give them candy as part of Halloween, National Magic Day got it’s start in 1938 when a Chicago member of the Society of American Magicians sought official permission to honor the great Harry Houdini with a special day of recognition for his contributions to the world of magic. Houdini’s wife sanctioned the holiday and proclaimed October 31 – the date of his death in 1926 – as National Magic Day.

Tundra Books sent me a copy of The Magician’s Secret to check out. All opinions are my o own. 

The Magician’s Secret

Written by Zachary Hyman | Illustrated by Joe Bluhm

 

When Mom and Dad dropped Charlie off at his grandfather’s for an overnight visit, they pleaded with him to make sure his grandson went to bed early. “‘No more hocus-pocus!’” his daughter said. That wasn’t just some phrase she conjured up, because her father had once been a magician and was still “like a big kid who never grew up.” He loved to play games with Charlie and “also knew the most amazing tricks.” But he never told Charlie his secrets.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-magician's-secret-attic

Copyright Joe Bluhm, 2018, courtesy of joebluhm.com.

What Charlie loved best were Grandpa’s stories. Whenever Grandpa told a story, he and Charlie went up to the “most cobwebby corner of the attic” where a big green trunk full of special things from Grandpa’s adventures sat. Grandpa would pull out an item and begin to talk. This night he showed Charlie an hourglass filled with sand that Grandpa said came from the tomb of King Tut.

Another time, he pulled out a scarf that had belonged to the World War I Red Baron fighter pilot. Grandpa had plucked it from the Red Baron’s neck during a dogfight in which Grandpa left the Baron and his plane floating in a French sea. One summer evening the story revolved around a coconut shell that he found on a tropical beach. He had fallen asleep under a palm tree only to be awakened by a roaring T-Rex intent on eating him. Just in the nick of time, “dozens of rocks rained down through the air, scaring the nasty dinosaur away.” Who had saved him? Grandpa never told, saying that was for Charlie to figure out.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-magician's-secret-red-baron

Copyright Joe Bluhm, 2018, courtesy of joebluhm.com.

Charlie loved Grandpa’s stories, but his father said that they were just “things Grandpa’s made up.” Charlie couldn’t believe it. He felt like he “had lived every one of those adventures with Grandpa. How could they not be true?” When Charlie asked his grandfather about it, Grandpa sighed. He said the problem with grown-ups was that they didn’t “have faith in make-believe” but that if you “use your imagination, you can turn a dream into something real.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-magician's-secret-twilight

Copyright Joe Bluhm, 2018, courtesy of joebluhm.com.

Charlie wasn’t so sure, but Grandpa assured him: “‘We’ve done it over and over again, with cameras and computers, automobiles and airplanes…. Magic is all around us, kiddo—in me and in you.’” Then Grandpa waved his hands in the air and produced a…rock. He said it was the philosopher’s stone that could do magical things, but the secret was that “‘You have to see it, you have to believe it.’” That night Charlie fell into a deep sleep with the rock under his pillow. When he woke up, he heard an earth-shattering roar. He looked and saw a T-Rex threatening his grandpa. He looked at the rock in his hand and knew what to do….

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-magician's-secret-in-bed

Copyright Joe Bluhm, 2018, courtesy of joebluhm.com.

Zachary Hyman makes magic with traditional storytelling combined with the wonder of imagination and the encouragement to make dreams come true. As Grandpa talks about his daring feats, Charlie believes him, but more importantly, Charlie believes that he could do such marvelous things too. Hyman’s reminder that all great discoveries and achievements began as someone’s seemingly impossible idea is well aimed at his young audience whose boundless imaginations may just be our next realities. Hyman’s evocative language and conversational tone  will keep children enthralled until the surprise ending.

Joe Bluhm lends a mysterious enchantment to Hyman’s story with his atmospheric depictions of the cobwebby attic, darkened, creature-infested tomb, and twilit skies. Turning from the setup to the heart of Grandpa’s stories, readers are immersed in vibrant colors and dazzling light, representative of that flash of ingenuity or creativity in each of us. In a nice cyclical set of images, Charlie is first seen watching TV and playing aviator, spaceman, explorer, artists, and magician with Grandpa in sepia-toned snapshots. Near the end of the book when Grandpa talks about the power of imagination, these same scenes are presented in full color with Charlie as a pilot, astronaut, movie director, mountain climber, race car driver, and explorer.

Like the best magic trick, The Magician’s Secret will captivate readers but will also tell them what they really want to know: the answer to how they can do wondrous things themselves. The book would make a terrific addition to home, classroom, and school libraries.

Ages 5 – 8

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1770498945

To learn more about Joe Bluhm, his books, and his art, visit his website.

It’s no secret that you’ll love this The Magician’s Secret book trailer!

National Magic Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-magic-maze

It’s Magic! Maze

 

Help the spell flow to the top hat to make the magic work in this printable maze!

It’s Magic! Maze | It’s Magic! Maze Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-magician's-secret-cover

You can find The Magician’s Secret at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review

October 19 – It’s National Book Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sir-simon-super-scarer-cover

About the Holiday

Holidays are always better with books! Books about holidays can make the time seem more festive, can teach you about other traditions, and can prolong the excitement for those one-day events. This month kids and adults celebrate Halloween, which combines the spooky and sweet into one fantastic extravaganza. Decorations, costumes, parties, special treats, and, of course, Halloween-themed books charge the cool, crisp weather with chills and little hearts with thrills.

Sir Simon: Super Scarer

By Cale Atkinson

 

Be careful as you open the book because if you’ve never seen a ghost, you’re about to—“Boo!” It’s ok if you were scared, the ghost says as he displays his business card, which reads “Sir Simon / Super Scarer / Ghostest with the mostest.” This professional scarer has “haunted and scared all sorts of things” from a whole forest and an unimpressed bear to a boat and a bus stop to a pizza, a ukulele, and a potato.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sir-simon-super-scarer-house

Copyright Cale Atkinson, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Finally, though, Sir Simon is “being transferred to a house.” While Simon is happy about having a haunted house all to himself, he’s not so thrilled about all the Ghost chores a house requires. What kinds of chores? Well, all of those eerie sounds and creepy circumstances don’t happen by themselves. They’re all Simon “stomping in the attic” with an old shoe on each hand, “flushing the toilet” in the middle of the night, “hiding and moving stuff around,” and “standing creepy in the window wearing old-timey clothes.” And it’s only after these chores and more that Simon can do what he really likes to do.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sir-simon-super-scarer-boat

Copyright Cale Atkinson, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

It seems in his afterlife Simon likes to dabble in the arts, learn French, and even write a thriller. Once Simon is ensconced in his new digs, he hears that grandparents are going to be moving in. He’s happy with this news because on “the pyramid of haunting,” old people are at the top since they sleep a lot, require fewer chores, and are oblivious to ghostly presences. But just as Simon is welcoming his new family home, he discovers that it includes a kid. A kid who sees him right away. A kid who has a lot of questions and a lot of comments. A kid who wants to be a Ghost too.

Simon is more than a bit miffed at this turn of events. It means more chores and less free time. Unless… Simon suddenly thinks Chester “would make a top-notch Ghost.” He takes Chester up to the attic, where he just can’t help looking through all of Simon’s stuff—much to Simon’s consternation. Simon gets Chester all suited up in the appropriate Ghost garb, gives him a list of “activities,” and sends him on his way. First up is making scary animal noises.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sir-simon-super-scarer-french

Copyright Cale Atkinson, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

As Simon happily types away on his novel, he hears Chester’s “Moo. Mooooooo. MOOOOOOOOO!” Incensed, Simon finds Chester at the heating vent and lets him know that “spooky and cow do not go together.” In fact, Chester does not seem to have a scary gene in his body. After trying and failing at every chore on the list, Chester is so exhausted he falls asleep with a thud.

Simon puts Chester to bed and then looks around his room. He sees that he and Chester actually have a lot in common—from the ukulele to drawing and writing to moving a lot. But does Simon feel bad for tricking Chester into doing his chores? No! Well… yes. The next morning Simon comes to offer his help with Chester’s chores, but they’re not as easy as they look. Simon has to admit that while “Chester isn’t the best at being a Ghost,” he’s “not so hot at being a human.” But there is something that they are both good at and that’s being friends.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sir-simon-super-scarer-chores

Copyright Cale Atkinson, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Cale Atkinson’s unique take on the ghostly life—or afterlife—is laugh-out-loud funny as Sir Simon Spookington goes about his spectral chores with pride tinged with exasperation at the time they take away from his preferred creative pursuits. When he discovers that a kid has moved into his house—and, what’s more, wants to be a ghost too—Atkinson’s apparition with attitude turns prickly with the disruption Chester causes and perfectionist when Chester’s haunting doesn’t live up to his standards. Simon’s strict chore schedule, his haunting pyramid, and his wisecracking responses to Chester are droll and hilarious, and Chester’s attempts at ghosting are silliness at their best.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sir-simon-super-scarer-playing-together

Copyright Cale Atkinson, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Readers will fall in love with Simon from the moment they open the cover to find twenty-four snapshots of the little ghost doing his chores. Atkinson’s free-wheeling creativity makes each page a showstopper as this haunted house is packed full of clever details and allusions to favorite scary and adventure movies and books in every nook and cranny. Atkinson also uses juxtaposition to great effect in images of  Simon floating through his chores with a frown and furrowed brow followed by those of a happy and relaxed Simon as he paints, writes, and does cross-stitch as well as in two cutaways of the house—one at night while Chester does Simon’s chores and one during the day as Simon attempts to do Chester’s. The final spread of Simon and Chester hanging out as friends is endearing and heartwarming.

Sir Simon: Super Scarer is a must for fans of ghost stories, funny stories, and friendship stories and will be enjoyed by adults as much as by kids. This book will be asked for again and again, making it a spooktacular addition to home, school, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8 

Tundra, 2018 | ISBN 978-1101919095

National Book Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-haunted-graveyard-craft-3

Spooky Haunted Graveyard

 

With a few items found in a backyard or park and a few from home, kids can make a spooky haunted graveyard to decorate their room or add to the family’s Halloween décor.

Supplies

  • Ten to twelve small to medium stones that have a triangular or rounded shape and can stand on their own (or close enough to be glued down)
  • Shallow cardboard box or plastic container
  • Small sticks or branches for the tree
  • A small amount of dirt, small dry leaves, moss, etc.
  • Poly fill for the fog (optional)
  • White craft paint
  • Small bit of clay
  • Paint brush
  • Black marker
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-haunted-graveyard-craft

Directions

To Make the Ghosts

  1. Paint 5 or 6 stones with the white paint, let dry
  2. Add eyes and mouth with the black marker

To Make the Tombstones

  1. Add RIP, names, and dates to 5 or 6 stones with the black marker

To Make the Tree

  1. Use one or two small branches or twigs to make the tree
  2. Stick them into the clay for stability

To Make the Graveyard

  1. Draw a fence inside and outside on the rim of the box (optional)
  2. Scatter the tombstones around the box and glue in place
  3. Scatter the ghosts near the tombstones and around the graveyard, and glue them in place
  4. Stick the small branches or twigs in the clay

To Make the Ground

  1. Scatter dirt, leaves, moss, around the tombstones and ghosts
  2. Add wispy bits of poly fill around the ghosts and tombstones and in the tree (optional)

Display the haunted graveyard!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sir-simon-super-scarer-cover

You can find Sir Simon Super Scarer at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 31 – National Trail Mix Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters

About the Holiday

Going out for a hike or just a day of doing errand? Then you’ll want to take along a snack to keep you going. Trail mix is just the thing! With its combination of nutritional value—quick energy from dried fruit or granola and more long-lasting energy from nuts—and its ability to be carried easily, trail mix is a perfect take along! Little ones can also enjoy their own versions of trail mix made with their favorite cereal and nutritious finger foods. Why not plan an outing with your kids, some trail mix, and a great book—like today’s!

Adventures with Barefoot Critters: An ABC Book

By Teagan White

 

The barefoot critters—two foxes, a squirrel, a deer, and a triceratops—love to go on adventures! Adventures that will take them through the alphabet. First, little deer and Squirrel must build a bridge over the frozen stream to get to the Foxes’ house. Oh dear! It seems one little fox has a cold. Happily, he has a mouse friend to bring him hot chocolate with marshmallows.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters-dress-up

Copyright Teagan White, 2017, courtesy of Tundra Books.

It’s fun to “play dress-up at home…or on Halloween!” And the stream is the perfect place to “float boats” in the fall. In spring lying on the grass is nice. Of course, the barefoot critters can always find places to jump, no matter what season it is. Making music to dance to with friends is a happy way to spend an afternoon and finding “treasure by the ocean” is always exciting.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters-envelope

Copyright Teagan White, 2017, courtesy of Tundra Books.

The barefoot critters love camping—whether it’s indoors, where they “create a quilt fort” or outside, where they can “roast marshmallows!” In the old tree, Fox and Triceratops have built a treehouse! Perhaps the friend who has “come for a visit” will play in it too. Rainy days are wonderful for feeding the ducklings and fishing—as long as Fox and Triceratops don’t forget their umbrella. But what is mouse to do when even though one little fox is wearing his yellow rain jacket, he and his sister track mud all over the newly washed floor?

After all of these wonderful adventures, what will the barefoot creatures do next? “Catch some z’s! Zzzzzz”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters-a-float-boats

Copyright Teagan White, 2017, courtesy of Tundra Books.

As snug as fuzzy socks on a cold day and as sweet as just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies, Teagan White’s Adventures with Barefoot Critters is a heartwarming snuggle up book to share with little ones. The Fox brother and sister, Deer, Squirrel, and endearingly anachronistic Triceratops are adorable companions on the journey through the alphabet. Cozy colors and richly detailed illustrations are tiny treasures that young readers and adults alike will have fun exploring together. Careful observers will enjoy the amusing arc involving Triceratops and his own adventure to find the Middle Jurassic. A little mouse, a playful snowflake-eating frog, and other woodland creatures will delight little ones as the friends spend the seasons together.

Not only for learning letters and new words, but for sharing lots of smiles, Adventures with Barefoot Critters: An ABC Book would make a much-loved baby gift or addition to home and classroom libraries.

Ages Preschool and up

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1101919132 (Board Book)

A Hardcover edition for ages 4 to 8 with rhyming verses is also available | ISBN 978-1770496248

Discover more about Teagan White, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Trail Mix Day Activity

young girl eating trailmix

Kids’ Trail Mix Recipe

 

Kids will love putting together and eating this healthy and easy-to-make trail mix from Fit WebMD Jr. that they can take along to school, after-school activities, and play dates. To learn more about this recipe visit Fit WebMD Jr.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sugar, whole-grain cereal
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried fruit, like cranberries, apricots, apples, or papaya
  • 1 cup nuts, like walnuts, almonds, or pistachios
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Big bowl
  • Small zip-top bags

How to Make Trail Mix

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Put all of the food in the bowl
  3. Mix it up with your hands
  4. Put 2 handfuls of your trail mix in a zip-top bag
  5. Keep putting trail mix in bags until the bowl is empty Trail Mix Is Healthy for You

Why Trail Mix is Healthy for You

  • Whole grains in the cereal give you energy to run and play.
  • Fruits have vitamins that help your eyes and skin.
  • Nuts have protein that helps make your muscles strong.
  • Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds give you fiber that helps you poop.
  • Dark chocolate may be good for your heart.

For Parents

Trail mix is a fun snack that offers satisfying crunch and sweetness with more nutrients than snacks like cookies or chips. You may even be able to introduce your child to a new food by mixing it in with others that she likes. This recipe is best for kids ages 4 and older, because some ingredients may be a choking hazard for younger children.

Although you could store your trail mix in a large air-tight container, making snack bags is fun and they are more convenient for kids (or parents on the go) to grab. Pre-packaged snack bags also make it harder for kids to eat too much. Remember to let your child’s handfuls determine the portion size. You should be able to make at least 2 dozen snack bags from this recipe.

Little kids can pour ingredients you have measured from cups or bowls into the big bowl. Older kids can measure the ingredients by themselves.

Cereals that are O-shaped or squares or clusters will stand up to handling better than flakes, which can easily turn into crumbs. For better nutrition, look for a cereal whose label says less than 8 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. While you’re checking labels, avoid dried fruits with a sugar coating, which adds empty calories and will cause an energy spike and crash.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters

You can find Adventures with Barefoot Critters at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 30 – Frankenstein Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mary-who-wrote-frankenstein-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday celebrates the birth of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who in 1818 at the age of 18, penned one of the most influential books of all time. Considered the first modern science fiction novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus incorporates elements of horror, psychology, love, abandonment, and acceptance. These themes and Shelley’s enthralling storytelling created a book that is always current. During this 200th anniversary year of the publishing of classic novel, discover (or rediscover) the spellbinding thrill of reading Frankenstein.

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein

Written by Linda Bailey | Illustrated by Júlia Sardà

 

Mary was a dreamer. She liked to spend time alone, thinking and imagining “things that never were.” Mary called these daydreams “‘castles in the air.’” Mary loved to write stories too, but her daydreams were even more thrilling. When Mary wanted to read and dream, she went to the graveyard and sat next to her mother’s grave. Mary’s mother had died when Mary was only 11 days old.

While Mary loved her father, she didn’t like the way he punished her. Mary didn’t like his new wife, either. Mary’s father is friends with many famous people, and he invites them to visit. One night “a writer named Samuel Taylor Coleridge recites a strange, eerie poem—The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Mary loves such poems.” Even though she was supposed to be in bed, she hid and listened, shivering “with fear at the spine-tingling tale of a ship full of ghosts.” Forever after, Mary remembered that night and that poem.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mary-who-wrote-frankenstein-town

Image copyright Júlia Sardà, 2018, text copyright Linda Bailey, 2018. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

By the time Mary was fourteen, she was unhappy at home and causing trouble. One night, when she was sixteen, she and her stepsister, Claire, ran away with a “brilliant, young poet” named Percy Bysshe Shelley. They traveled through Europe, one day finding themselves outside a “ruined castle. It’s called Castle Frankenstein. Such an interesting name! Does it stick in Mary’s mind?”

Eighteen months later, the three traveled to Switzerland, where they became friends with Lord Byron—the most famous poet in the world. One night as torrential storms crashed around Lord Byron’s house, he read ghost stories from Fantasmagoriana. After reading, Byron challenged his friends, who also included a doctor named John Polidori, to write a ghost story. Eighteen-year-old Mary, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Polidori accepted the challenge. But Mary could not think of a good story idea.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mary-who-wrote-frankenstein-friends

Image copyright Júlia Sardà, 2018, text copyright Linda Bailey, 2018. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

Soon, Shelley and Polidori gave up on their ghost stories, but their talk of new scientific experiments excited Mary. “Electricity can make the muscles of a dead frog twitch. Could it bring a dead creature to life? The idea is both thrilling and frightening.” The idea captured Mary, but instead of a frog, she imagined “a hideous monster, made of dead body parts, stretched out—and coming to life!” Mary suddenly realized she had the idea for her ghost story.

It took nine months for Mary to finish her story. When it was published, some people thought it had been written by Percy Bysshe Shelley—they didn’t “believe young Mary could have done it! How could a girl like her come up with such a story?” But she was a writer, assembling bits and pieces, ideas, and scientific changes in her imagination until they turned into the book Frankenstein. In the two-hundred years since the novel was first published, the story has become a classic. It has sparked movies, inspired other writers, and become a favorite all around the world.

An extensive Author’s Note about Mary Shelley, her life, and inspiration as well as Linda Bailey’s thoughts on the story behind Frankenstein follows the text. A full-page portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and a list of sources rounds out the informative backmatter.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mary-who-wrote-frankenstein-graveyard

Image copyright Júlia Sardà, 2018, text copyright Linda Bailey, 2018. Courtesy of Tundra Books.

With atmospheric and riveting details, Linda Bailey captures the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and the influences on her imagination that resulted in Frankenstein. Bailey’s use of the present tense is inspired as it reflects the continued currency of the novel while encouraging today’s readers to embrace their “castles in the air.” Facts about Mary’s travels, new scientific discoveries, and favorite books sprinkled throughout the story inform readers on how the imagination combines experiences to create art.

One look at Júlia Sardà’s spellbinding cover tells readers that they are in for an extraordinary reading experience. Muted tones of red, green, gold, blue, and plum cloaked in black create a thrilling backdrop to Bailey’s story. Ghostly winged creatures fly over Lord Byron’s home on a stormy night, smoky monsters emerge from Fantasmagoriana, a frog sits up in its coffin, and the spectre of the monster leans over Mary and sleeps at her feet as she writes her novel. At once spine-tingling and cozy, Júlia Sardà’s illustrations will draw children into this superb story of a ghost story.

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is sure to spark the imagination of children who love literature, art, and writing. The book would be a thrilling addition to classroom libraries for literature and writing classes as well as an inspiring favorite on home bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 8

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1770495593

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

To learn more about Júlia Sardà, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Frankenstein Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-frankenstein-puzzle

Monstrously Good Puzzle

 

See if you’re a Frankenstein scholar by filling in this printable puzzle full of words and phrases about the novel!

Monstrously Good Puzzle | Monstrously Good Puzzle Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mary-who-wrote-frankenstein-cover

You can find Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

 

June 15 – National Nature Photography Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-cover

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established in 2009 by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) to promote the enjoyment of taking photographs of nature while out hiking, traveling, or just in your own backyard. Nature photography is a fantastic hobby and a creative way to get you out interacting with the environment. In addition, nature photography allows you to bring home the beauty of fragile ecosystems without hurting the native flora and fauna. Today, grab your camera or phone (or your notebook and pencils) and head out to capture some of the glorious colors and wildlife around you.

Tundra Books sent me a copy of The Golden Glow to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m happy to be partnering with Tundra Books in a giveaway of The Golden Glow. See Details below.

The Golden Glow

By Benjamin Flouw

 

Fox was a collector. As he sat in his armchair, his leafy acquisitions shaded him as if he were in the jungle. Reading through a botany book “looking the next new plant to add to his collection,” he came to a page that had no picture to go with the intriguing description. The plant’s name, he read, is “the golden glow” and it is part of “the Wellhidden family.” The book continues to say that the plant only grows high in the mountains and is so rare no one has ever seen it.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-reading

Copyright Benjamin Flouw, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Fox determined that he would find this “fabulously fascinating flower.” He packed his things and in the morning set out to the mountains in the distance. As he walked, he admired the familiar plants along the way. Fox also knew “the name of each tree he walks under.” At the stream, he met Bear and asked him about the golden glow, but Bear knew nothing and suggested Fox talk to Marmot.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-wildflowers-on-path

Copyright Benjamin Flouw, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Like the golden glow, Marmot also liked to hide. Fox looked in every nook and cranny, but didn’t find her. While Fox was snacking on a grape pate sandwich, his cousin Wolf happened by. He’d never seen the golden glow either, but he could help Fox find Marmot. They crossed a field of wildflowers, and when he and Wolf stopped, Wolf whistled and Marmot answered.

Marmot turned out to be very helpful, telling Fox that the flower could be found at the very top of the mountain. Fox climbed and climbed as the air turned foggy. “Suddenly, a strange shape looms into view….” As Fox got closer, he recognized Mountain Goat. Mountain Goat told Fox that nothing grows at the top of the mountain, but he lent him a walking stick when he saw Fox’s determination.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-crossing-meadow

Copyright Benjamin Flouw, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Fox climbed all the way up 9,800 feet to the snow zone. When the sun peeked out of the clouds, Fox looked around, but he found nothing growing there. The sun was due to set soon, so Fox pitched his tent and watched as the sun dipped lower and lower in the sky. He was just putting down the walking stick when he felt “something brush against his paw…”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-on-mountaintop

Copyright Benjamin Flouw, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Fox brushed away the snow to find “a fabulously fascinating flower.” Fox knew it must be the golden glow. Fox was just about to pick it, when he changed his mind. “This golden glow is more beautiful here on the mountaintop than it ever would be in a vase in his living room.” Instead, Fox reached into his backpack for his notebook and pencil.

Fox studied “the plant from every angle” and then began to draw. When Fox returned home, he “put all of his drawings into his botany book” so that he can look at the golden glow often and remember “just how fabulously fascinating his golden glow is, high up on the mountaintop.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-coming-home

Copyright Benjamin Flouw, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Just as the simplest flower or leaf, Benjamin Flouw’s story holds delicate charms and hidden complexities that make The Golden Glow a book to be savored through multiple readings. While the book begins as a mysterious adventure story, as Fox journeys to the mountaintop, The Golden Glow offers beautifully detailed images of camping supplies, trees, wildlife habitats, wildflowers, and mountain zones; the quiet, unhurried pace of the text echoes the restorative power of nature; and Fox’s decision to leave the golden glow instead of picking it reminds readers that nature’s bounty belongs to everyone.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-wildflowers

Copyright Benjamin Flouw, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

After the adventure is over, however, a deeper meaning is revealed in the final line of the book. A simple exchange of modifier from “the golden glow” to “his golden glow” presents a profound opportunity to consider and discuss the nature of individuality, uniqueness, and how people let their “glow” shine. 

Flouw’s distinctive angular illustrations are strikingly evocative of nature while giving the book a fresh look and a feeling of tranquility. The shiny gold foil leaf on the golden glow will elicit “oohs” and “ahhs,” and the penciled image of the golden glow that Fox draws will inspire young botanists to start their own nature notebook.

A gorgeous book that seamlessly combines nonfiction with a fictional story that has depth, The Golden Glow is an inspiring choice for home bookshelves and would be a fit for many classroom lessons as well as general story time.

Ages 4 – 8

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-0735264120

To learn more about Benjamin Flouw and view a portfolio of his work, visit his website.

The Golden Glow Giveaway

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Tundra Books to be giving away:

  • One (1) copy of The Golden Glow by Benjamin Flouw

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, June 15 – 21. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

Winners will be chosen on June 22.

Giveaways open to US addresses only | Prizing provided by Tundra Books

National Nature Photography Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pic-a-pot-of-flowers-craft

Pot a Pic of Flowers Craft

 

A collection of flower photographs can be just as beautiful as a pot of real posies. With this simple craft you can keep memories of flowers and plants you’ve seen while decorating your room or give a unique gift that shows off your photography skills and your love of nature!

Supplies

  • Small flower pot
  • Green floral wire
  • Green construction or heavy-stock paper
  • Pliers
  • Clay, playdough, or oasis
  • Scissors

Directions

To Make the Stem

  • Hold one tip of the wire tightly with the pliers
  • Wind the wire around the nose of the pliers two or three times. Squeeze the loops together, if necessary.
  • Cut the wire to the desired length. An assortment of lengths makes the display more interesting and allows all pictures to show
  • Cut small leaves from the green paper and tape to the stems
  1. Take pictures of flowers you like with your phone or other camera. Alternately, you can find pictures of flowers online.
  2. Print pictures on photo paper or regular paper
  3. Place clay, playdough, or oasis in the flower pot
  4. Stick the stems into the clay
  5. Carefully slide the pictures into the loops on the stems
  6. Display or give your flower pot!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-golden-glow-cover

You can find The Golden Glow at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

April 2 – National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-cover

About the Holiday

PB & J is a perennial favorite! These tasty sandwiches are so popular that the average American will eat more than 2,000 by the time they graduate from high school! In the early 1900s, peanut butter was a rare treat, served only in the most upscale New York City tea rooms. When, in 1896, an article in Good Housekeeping offered instructions on grinding your own peanuts, and Table Talk magazine published a recipe for making a peanut butter sandwich, peanut butter began to enter the mainstream. The first mention of combining jelly with peanut butter may have been by Julia Davis Chandler in 1901. Peanut butter became an inexpensive lunchtime favorite of children in the 1920s and was a staple of WWII ration lists for soldiers. Today, peanut butter and jelly feature prominently in both sweet and savory dishes of all kinds. To celebrate, you know what to do!

I’m thrilled to partner with Tundra Books in a giveaway of one copy of Peanut Butter and Jelly! See details below.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Narwhal and Jelly Book

By Ben Clanton

 

A Sweet and Salty Story!

When Narwhal comes upon Jelly eating what looks like a delicious waffle, he wants in! But it’s not a waffle, Jelly tells him; it’s a peanut butter cookie! Narwhal thinks this sounds ridiculous, and Jelly is shocked to find out that Narwhal has never heard of peanut butter. Narwhal tries to imagine what it tastes like. “Like strawberries? Pickles? Stir-fried licorice?” Jelly feels a little sick – especially when Narwhal suggests it tastes like all three combined.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-ahoy-jelly

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

It turns out that Narwhal only eats waffles and has pretty much missed out on all the best food groups: pizza, spaghetti, even guacamole. Jelly offers Narwhal a taste of his cookie, saying “maybe you’ll like this cookie even more than waffles!” Well, Narwhal thinks this is even more ridiculous than the cookie itself. But after Jelly offers to make him a Narwhal-sized waffle if he just takes a nibble, Narwhal relents. He takes the smallest of bites, and… his eyes fly open and he proclaims it “fintastic! He loves the sweetness, the saltiness, the yumminess…. In fact, it’s so “yumptious” that it’s… “all gone! Whoops!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-sounds-funny

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Ahoy! Peanut Butter

Jelly just can’t get Narwhal’s attention. Why? Because he’s changed his name from Narwhal to… Peanut Butter! Jelly is incensed. He doesn’t think it’s normal to just up and change your name like that, but Narwhal assures him that it’s fine. After all, he used to be called Fred, and before that his name was Bob. Yes, he’s had a whole string of names that even includes Sir Duckworth.

Jelly is getting so confused. He’s worried that Narwhal is taking the whole peanut butter thing way too far—especially when he finds out that Narwhal hasn’t eaten anything but peanut butter since he had that cookie. And now his jar is empty! There’s only one thing for Narwhal to do—swim off to get another jar. Right, Floyd? “Floyd?” Jelly thinks. Hmmm… “Floyd…”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-ick

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick vs. PB & J, by Peanut Butter and Floyd

A monstrous pickle is on a rampage! It’s time for Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick! “But before they can take a slice out of that pickle…,” Peanut Butter Bread and Jelly Bread are on the scene. They make a pickle sandwich and vanquish him in no time, declaring that pickle “no big dill.” Just then, though, “a jealous gelatinous jam” picks up Jelly Bread and is about to munch. Now, it’s “Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick to the rescue!” They tame that glob of jam a with an even better dance jam!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-mashed-potatoes

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Peanut a.k.a. Mini Narwhal

Something is all kerflooey in the ocean. Narwhal is suddenly much smaller than Jelly, and he’s turned the color of peanut butter. Jelly wants to know what happened. Narwhal has a theory on why he’s suddenly so tiny. He tells Jelly, “When I woke up this morning I was the size of a peanut. I think it might have something to do with all the peanut butter I’ve been eating.” Jelly advises Narwhal to cool it on the peanut butter, and Narwhal agrees—not because he doesn’t want to eat it anymore, but because he’s eaten “all the peanut butter in the whole world wide waters!”

What’s Narwhal going to do about it, Jelly wonders. The answer is: Nothing! Narwhal’s fine with being so petite. But what about doing cannonballs, and his tutu and cape? Jelly asks. Jelly conjures up all kinds of disasters: Narwhal could get eaten or washed away on a wave or sucked into an elephant’s trunk. Narwhal tells Jelly to chillax. There’s a good side too. Regular waffles will seem gigantic and he’ll be able to eat as many as he wants.

A few of those huge waffles later Narwhal is enormous. Narwhal thinks this is just as great as being tiny because now he “can eat oodles of waffles” and “break the world record for waffle eating!” Which Jelly thinks is pretty ingenious—until he’s left to make thousands of waffles!

Narwhal and Jelly even tell kids about what some other sea creatures eat in section called Delicious Facts.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-cookie

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Ben Clanton’s Narwhal—excuse me, Peanut Butter—and Jelly make the most adorable odd couple in the early readers’ sea. In this third graphic-novel adventure, the dynamic duo give kids a taste of funny repartee between friends as Narwhal discovers a new fav food and tries on a new name and two new sizes. Clanton knows how to make readers giggle and laugh out loud as Narwhal guffaws at the idea foods other than waffles, Jelly grows more and more flabbergasted at Narwhal’s antics, and a rogue pickle with mismatched goggly eyes flails its spindly arms.

Sweet, zany, supportive, and charming, the combination of Narwhal and Jelly is always a delectable and eagerly anticipated treat for kids. Peanut Butter and Jelly is a must for all fans and a terrific addition to any home or classroom library.

Ages 5 – 9

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-0735262454

Discover more about Ben Clanton, his books, and lots of other fun stuff on his website.

It’s a Peanut Butter and Jelly Giveaway!

I’m excited to partner with Tundra Books in this giveaway of

  • one copy of Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Narwhal and Jelly Book!

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, April 2 – April 8. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on April 9.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Tundra Books

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-game

Make a PB & J Lunch! Game

 

With just a few ingredients, you can make yourself a delicious lunch! Turns out PB & J and a glass of milk also makes a pretty fun game! Play this printable game for some peanuty perfect fun!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print one playing die
  2. Print enough game cards for each player to have a set
  3. Cut out the playing die and game cards
  4. Game cards can be stacked near the players
  5. Tape the playing die together

To Play the Game

  1. Choose a player to go first
  2. The first player rolls the die
  3. The player takes a game card matching the picture on the side of the die facing up and places it on their paper plate
  4. Play passes to the left
  5. If a player rolls an item they already have, they pass the die to the player on their left without taking a new card
  6. The first player to get all six parts of the peanut butter and jelly lunch is the winner

For a More Difficult Game

To make the game a little harder, roll the die to fill your plate in this order:

  1. Plain bread
  2. Peanut Butter
  3. Jelly Jar
  4. Jelly Bread
  5. Peanut Butter Bread
  6. Milk

Picture Book Review