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Be A Friend

10 Feb

February 11th is National Make a Friend Day. Two years ago I added this day to my Celebrate Every Day With A Picture Book tab. This year I’m excited to find a brand new picture book friend to celebrate this day.


Be A Friend by Salina Yoon (Bloomsbury, 2016)

Dennis expresses himself through mime. But not everyone appreciates Dennis’s unique form of communication. He is often alone and lonely. Then one day Joy notices him and he has someone he can give his heart to. They find that being different is okay and soon so does everyone else. This is a great example of how actions speak louder than words.










In Like a Lion

5 Mar

UnknownTrue to its reputation, March is coming in like a lion. But right around the corner, spring is ready to pounce. This weekend we will move forward one hour. Next week we are looking forward to warmer temperatures and melting snow. The following week we will look for four leaf clovers, leprechauns, and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. And before you know it, we’ll celebrate the official first day of spring with singing, dancing, and frolicking in the streets. Let’s look back just a few short months. What good has come out of this past winter? Has being homebound brought you closer to loved ones? Helped you organize your closet or deep clean at least one room? Given you the time to focus on your craft? Forced you to eat home-cooked meals? Provided solitude for meaningful meditation? Inspired you to learn something new? Offered a creative outlet? For myself, I’ve polished two manuscripts and sent them out to five industry professionals. I organized another critique group. I’ve started a number of new writing projects, one which is very promising. I’ve been invited to be one of the administrators on the Debut Picture Book Study group on Facebook. I completed last year’s picture book review challenge, Celebrate Every Day with a Picture Book.  And I embarked on this year’s challenge to keep up with new picture book publications, which includes reviewing picture books and offering some fun kid-friendly activities for each one on my new page, 2015 Books Alive!

 Check out some of these titles on my new page.

Open an Umbrella Indoors Day

13 Mar

Today, March 12th is NOT Friday the 13th, but it is Open An Umbrella Indoors Day.


This day was named by Thomas Knibb in 2003, hopefully to defy silly superstitions by encouraging people to open their umbrellas indoors and observe the non-existent consequences.  If you want to celebrate this bizarre holiday, just follow these four simple steps:

Step 1: Grab an umbrella.

Step 2: Stand in a safe place (indoors), away from breakable objects and/or people who value their eyesight.

Step 3: Take a deep breath and OPEN your umbrella!

Step 4: Keep your eyes and ears open for any bad luck that occurs.

(Note from Mr. Knibb:  People who take part in this holiday, do so at their own risk.)


Now, that you’re all safe and sound… how about a great picture book or two?

The first one I chose for today… <cue the music> Ta Ta Ta Da!

The Umbrella, written and illustrated by the great and talented Jan Brett!


This is a wonderful story about a young boy who drops his umbrella in order to climb up a tree in the rainforest.  As he clambers up a tree in search of animals, the animals are down below trying to fit themselves into his upturned umbrella.  It gets so crowded in his umbrella, that there isn’t enough room for even the tiny hummingbird, causing everyone to fall out of the umbrella and scurry back to their homes.  And the little boy must return home without having seen any rainforest animals.   In the classic style of Jan Brett, every illustration is playful and detailed.  Little ones are enchanted with the story and easily pick up the sequence and predict the next animal who will find his way into the umbrella.

The second picture book I chose for today is an exercise in distinguishing between good luck and bad luck, and how any event can quickly become good or bad depending on the circumstances and your perception of the situation.  This is a lot of fun for Friday the 13th (tomorrow) or to dispel superstitions today, weather or not you believe in good or bad luck.

 That’s Good! That’s Bad! written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by David Catrow.


This is a playful story of a boy who gets separated from his parents at the zoo… That’s bad!  No, That’s Good! … because he ends up having wonderful adventures with the animals!  With every turn of a page, the reader experiences a new adventure, That’s Good!  And every adventure has a potential danger, That’s Bad!  Can you see where this is going?  Little ones love to shout the opposite phrase, in response to the reader’s proclamation of “That’s Good!” or “That’s Bad!” as the story progresses.  Eventually the stork drops the boy back into his parents’ waiting arms… That’s Great!

Miss Rumphius

12 Mar

Today is National Plant a Flower Day.  Of course the first picture book that comes to mind is the timeless Miss Rumphius.


This book tells the story of Alice Rumphius who had only three goals in life: to travel the world, to live in a house by the sea, and to do something to make the world more beautiful.  Barbara Cooney writes and illustrates this masterpiece.  Through words and pictures she tells the story of the real Miss Rumphius, Alice Rumphius the Lupine Lady, who travels and spreads lupine seeds everywhere she goes.  Because of her, the coast of Maine is now fragrant with lupines.  Miss Rumphius  won the American Book Award in 1985, and the artwork for this book is currently at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Maine.  Barbara Cooney has also won the Caldecott Award twice for her work Chanticleer and the Fox (1959) and The Ox Cart Man (1980).

Barbara Cooney was quoted in 1959,  from her acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal, “I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting. It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death.  Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand. ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.’  So should a child’s.  For myself, I will never talk down to – or draw down to- children.”

Of Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney said, “Miss Rumphius has been, perhaps, the closest to my heart.  There are, of course, many dissimilarities between me and Alice Rumphius, but, as I worked, she gradually seemed to become my alter ego.  Perhaps she had been that right from the start.”


You can read more about Barbara Cooney here,,,1000002642,00.html

Johnny Appleseed

11 Mar

Today is the alternate Johnny Appleseed Day.  Most school children celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day on the anniversary of his birthdate, September 26.  But March 11 is also celebrated as Johnny Appleseed Day because it coincides near the anniversary of his death and is during planting season.

John Chapman (1774-1845) born in Leominster, Massachusetts was the son of the minuteman, Nathaniel Chapman, who fought the British at Concord in 1775 and served in the Continental Army with General Washington during the Revolutionary War.  John left home at the age of 18 traveling west.  He apprenticed with an apple orchardist named Crawford.  John Chapman was a Christian missionary who lived in harmony with Native Americans and American pioneers.  He was known to bring medicinal plants with him on his visits.  John called the apple blossom a living sermon and often quoted the Sermon on the Mount.  John’s travels took him to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  During the War of 1812, many Native Americans allied themselves with the British against the American settlers.  However, it is claimed that because of his reputation, they did not bother John Chapman.  This gave John an advantage to travel freely.  Whenever he could, John Chapman would warn the settlers of danger.  His goal of pioneering was to plant apple orchards as a means of claiming the land for American settlers.  However, his apple trees did not bear good fruit for eating. His apples were sour and popular among the settlers because they were used mainly to produce hard cider and applejack.  Thus John Chapman earned the name Johnny Appleseed, and became an American legend in his own time.

Because of Johnny Appleseed’s love of nature, many folktales were also told about him.  It was said that he made friends with wild animals – deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and even raccoons, bears, and bobcats.  Some say he even kept a wolf as a pet. He lived outdoors without shoes or extra clothing, carrying only a bag of apple seeds and a cooking pot which he wore on his head as a hat.  He slept in a hammock hung between trees.  And it was said that he was never sick a day in his life.

Whether you enjoy reading folktales or historical accounts of the man known as Johnny Appleseed, there are plenty of books to choose from.  Two of my favorite children’s books about Johnny Appleseed are Johnny Appleseed, A Tall Tale retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg, and The Story of Johnny Appleseed written and illustrated by Aliki.




The Napping House

10 Mar


I thought I’d celebrate Napping Day today with an old favorite, The Napping House  written by Audrey Wood and illustrated by Don Wood.  I love the rhythm and repetition of the text.  Audrey Wood is a master with words!  You can’t beat it…

‘And on that granny there is a child, a dreaming child on a snoring granny, on a cozy bed, in a napping house, where everyone is sleeping.’

And of course, the illustrations are not only playful but beautiful.  Don Wood captures the exact feeling of the story.  Watch how the light changes as the napping begins and as everyone wakes up from their naps.

Here is a fun video of the book being read aloud.  Enjoy your nap today!

Napping Day was founded by Boston University professor William Anthony and his wife Camille in 1999.  Napping Day is the unofficial holiday to help people adjust to Daylight Saving Time.  It is always the Monday after we ‘spring forward’ losing an hour of sleep the night before.  It was established to  promote health and productivity.  Studies show that regular napping can reduce the risk of death from heart related problems.  However, a 2009 study in the UK indicated that naps could increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Yikes!  My advice – take a nap and control other risks for diabetes!

Read Across America Day

3 Mar

In honor of the good doctor, Theodor Seuss Geisell, the National Education Association celebrates Read Across America on his birthday, March 2nd.  Because that was on Sunday, it was moved to today, March 3rd. In our neck of the woods, there are a lot of schools closed, so I expect this day may be celebrated tomorrow in many classrooms.  Regardless of where and when it is celebrated, the focus is the same… Read!  The NEA offers teachers and parents ideas and materials to celebrate and encourage reading.  There are traditional events, Wear a Hat to School, Green Eggs and Ham luncheons, One Fish Two Fish swimming Blue Jello, etc.


I’d like to take a minute and quote some of his lesser celebrated books, and some of my favorites. Especially for an older child, these books are intended to offer food for thought as well as entertainment.


Five Lessons I’ve Learned from Dr. Seuss    (listed alphabetically by title)

‘Every year the same four things!  I’m mighty tired of those old things!  I want something NEW to come down!’  and   ‘Even kings can’t rule the sky.’  Bartholomew and the Oobleck

 ‘A person’s a person, no matter how small.’  Horton Hears a Who!

‘Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.  What if Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.’  How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.’   The Lorax

‘I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.’  Yertle, the Turtle

I spent 30 years in education, encouraging reading in classrooms. Today I’m using Read Across America to encourage reading among adults.  I have piles of novels stacked on shelves and on the floor that I’ve been meaning to organize, someday.  Today is the day!  Today, I organize and sort.  Today these books are going into two piles Keep and Give-away.  It’s time to spread my love for reading with adults who haven’t developed that love, or who would love to have their own books in their own homes.  Maybe this small act will encourage an adult to pick up a book and read.

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