It wouldn’t be Carnival if I didn’t share Mike Artell’s song! HAPPY MARDI GRAS!
Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is The Littlest Streetcar by author-illustrator Vernon Smith. What a sweet story!
Written & Illustrated by: Vernon Smith
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (February 2017)
Suitable for ages: 3 and up
Themes/Topics: Self-Concept, Self-esteem, New Orleans, Louisiana, Streetcars & Trains, Transportation
Brief Synopsis: This is a story about a little streetcar named Charlie who wasn’t as popular as other streetcars because he was a maintenance vehicle. Convinced he was “just a worker car”, Charlie didn’t feel worthy or as important as the other streetcars until his skills helped them out of trouble. Charlie then realized he is appreciated and valuable and special, just they way he is.
“Charlie the Streetcar liked to roll down the tracks and enjoy his day. It made him very happy, because he didn’t go out all the time like the other streetcars.
Some days, Charlie was called upon to put sand on the rails. This would create traction, so the other streetcars could move without the wheels slipping and sliding.”
Why I like this book: This is such an endearing story with a wonderful message. The Littlest Streetcar reminds readers that there is something special about each and every one of us. The artwork is colorful and expressive showing every character’s personality. See if you can find the spread where Vernon Smith gives a shout out to The King Cake Baby the first book we both published with Pelican; he as the illustrator.
In the back matter Smith gives a brief history about New Orleans streetcars and his inspiration for writing the story.
Learn more here about New Orleans Streetcars. And if you are ever in the city take a ride on one!
Read the history of trams, trolleys, and streetcars here and or visit your local train museum.
See this KidsHealth PreK-2 Teacher’s Guide on Self-esteem
Extension activities to help children develop self-esteem.
Extension crafts from Pinterest to help children develop self-esteem.
Read more today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.
I had wonderful time celebrating Mardi Gras 2017. The King Cake Baby and I ran all over south Louisiana parishes visiting with students, parents, teachers, and school librarians.
As a guest author for Scholastic I met many wonderful educators who work tirelessly to bring books into schools for kids. Book fairs are quite popular in Louisiana and the state is recognized as one of the top sales areas! 📚
And while there of course I ate a lot of different types of King Cake! I even ate a King Cake hamburger. Yes. I. Did. The food truck @FoodDrunknola sold them at the King Cake Festival. To my surprise, it was deliciously sweet and savory. Yum.
I was fortunate to visit Impact Elementary School at their Family Literacy Night. And had delightful visits at Port Allen Elementary and North Iberville Elementary. Watch these Port Allen Pre-K students dance! 🎶🎶
Second graders sang the 12 Days of Carnival. So much fun! 🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶
Kindergarten students at North Iberville sang “Five Little King Cake Babies“. Cutest babies and baker in the city!
The King Cake Baby and I love to Skype with classes, especially during Mardi Gras. We hung out with a great group of first grade students in Kentucky who knew all about Kings’ Day.
Just so happens World Read Aloud Day, known as WRAD, is always during Carnival season. So the baby ran west…to Texas!
All hail the North Pointe Elementary grade 2 Kings and Queens!
It was wonderful to see kiddos from coast to coast celebrating Mardi Gras, like this Girl Scout troop from San Diego! 💜💚
Every year I bring a King Cake to my tennis club. Guess who got the baby?
Eating King Cake during Mardi Gras is a longtime tradition and fun no matter your age or where you live. But no worries if you don’t eat any by Fat Tuesday on February 28th, there’s always next year!
“The mind of an adult begins in the imagination of a child.”
It’s been a tough week. Violence, death, injustice. We can barely keep our heads above the flood of emotions.
Award winning Children’s author and poet Kwame Alexander spoke on NPR – Weekend Edition Sunday about the recent unrest in our country – Reflecting On Police Shootings, Author Kwame Alexander Focuses On Next Generation. His words helped calm the waters. They enlighten and uplift.
What Kwame said is true for many of us in this kidlit business. It is more fulfilling to focus on children. Children’s authors have responded by sharing their creativity and focusing on the children. I too found an artful outlet by creating a meme using the character I introduced in my book, THE KING CAKE BABY.
He may be naughty & naked, but the King Cake Baby loves all. I know he believes baby hugs are the best.
It is times like these that literature is a way to help children feel safe and provide comfort. Kwame shared this poem he wrote fifteen years ago.
When the world is not so beautiful
The flowers waste water
The women can no longer find their song
The children refuse to play
There are no men to teach to love
The ground inside collapses
The coldest winter screams
The summer burns red
The sea is full of blues and the sky opens up
At least I’ll have poetry
A gathering of words
A get-together of emotions
A font of ideas
Hope with wings
~ Kwame Alexander, children’s author and poet
Read on and go forth and hug!
‘Twas a great World Read Aloud Day, er, WEEK! There were so many teachers and librarians requesting visits that I wanted to accommodate them all. I couldn’t, but I did end up scheduling visits over three days instead of just one. The King Cake Baby was a fun B.A., Baby Ambassador for the city of New Orleans!
Students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, were well prepared with great questions. One librarian surprised the kids on camera- they were all going back to their classrooms to eat King Cake. Fun! One kindergarten class showed up wearing beads, and they made masks too. And students danced with me to some Mardi Gras music. What a wonderful way to share New Orleans and a beloved tradition.
The educator in me did sneak in a little geography lesson during Skype visits. When visiting with a school in Minnesota, first graders were quick to identify their state and knew the Mississippi River starts there. We traced the path of the river down south to Louisiana. In one spread where the baby is running toward the Mississippi River Bridge in New Orleans, I always ask students if they think the baby will travel over or under it, and where they think he’s going. For the kids in Minnesota, the King Cake Baby was going to hop on a boat and head north, of course!
Until next year!
School visits are a wonderful way for authors to share their passion for literacy and share the joys of living a creative life. This baby ran all over New Orleans, over the Mississippi River, and across the Twin Span Bridge! I am very fortunate to have met wonderful faculty and great students during each visit.
The kids and I had a blast reading The King Cake Baby and singing 12 Days of Carnival. My song is all about New Orleans food. And what food tops the Mardi Gras food pyramid? King Cake!
The following links are to pages dedicated to each school visited:
St. Pius X Catholic School, New Orleans
Terrytown Elementary School, Jefferson Parish Schools
Akili Academy, New Orleans
Abney Elementary School, Slidell
Homer A. Plessy Community School, New Orleans
St. Michael’s Special School, New Orleans
I also attended my first King Cake Festival, a benefit for Ochsner Pediatrics! And as you can imagine, ate lots and lots of King Cake! Maurice French Pastries won the People’s Choice Award for the second year. Delicious. Félicitations!
I am so fortunate to be able to participate in this wonderful tradition and be a part of a very unique culture. And it’s celebrated year after year! Can’t wait till January 6th to kick off Carnival 2017. Mardi Gras Day is February 28, 2017. Who’s counting? ME, Baby!
Happy 4th of July Estados Unidos! Actually Louisianians would have said something like Feliz el 4 de Julio or Heureux le 4 éme Juillet. Thanks Google!
Language aside, the Spanish Colony of Louisiana under the leadership of Bernardo de Gálvez (photo below) joined forces with the British-Americans to fight for their independence against the British. Indigenous Native Louisianans fought alongside those of French, Spanish, African, German, Acadian, and Swiss descent. The rest as they say, is history. Why did Spanish Louisiana help British-America?
European wars profoundly affected the fledgling French colony. Spain supported the American Revolution because of their losses to Britain during the Seven Year’s War (1756–1763). On the same day France relinquished most of her empire east of the Mississippi to Britain at the end of the Seven Years’ War, she ceded all her possessions west of the Mississippi to Spain, her ally in the conflict. Spain lost all of her North American territories (Spanish Florida) to regain control of Cuba and became the new ruler of the Louisiana Colony. In order to recoup her losses and to protect what was left of her colonies in the Americas, Spain used both international and domestic policies to guard and develop her holdings. Internationally, Spain’s support of the American Revolution helped protect her borders from Britain, while on the domestic front Spain needed to develop a prosperous Louisiana colony.
Allowed to access supplies through the port of Havana in Cuba as well as the port in New Orleans during the revolution, Spanish Louisiana played a crucial role in American Independence.
You’re welcome America! Just sayin’!
New Orleans trivia quizzes are designed as a fun way learn about one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Rich in tradition and culture, New Orleans is known as the festival capital of the United States. The culture, customs, and many traditions celebrated throughout the year started long before US statehood which makes the city genuinely unique.
This first quiz tests your knowledge of Mardi Gras and that includes king cake, baby!
See my other posts about Mardi Gras and king cake and another about how to catch throws at a parade. Head over to Goodreads to take the New Orleans Trivia multiple choice quiz. For a heads up, the questions are below.
How’s your knowledge of New Orleans culture?
Bonne chance! Good luck!
1. What is the first day king cake is traditionally eaten in New Orleans?
2. What does the New Orleans king cake symbolize?
3. Other than a plastic baby, what else is known to be hidden in king cakes?
4. Mardi Gras is an official holiday in which of these states?
5. Who chose purple, green, and gold as the official colors of Mardi Gras?
6. What do the words Mardi Gras mean in English?
7. What happens when you find the plastic king cake baby inside the cake?
8. What New Orleans Carnival krewe uses a bean and “mock wooden” king cake to choose their queen?
9. At a new Orleans Mardi Gras parade, the following may be caught from floats.
10. Where can you go to sample the best variety of Louisiana king cakes?
Thanks to Video Production by Carrie Charley Brown!