Holidays

Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras, Recipes

Easy Peasy Crescent Roll King Cake

This year I’m sharing an easy peasy crescent rolls king cake recipe.

When it was time to make a king cake this year, I couldn’t find Pillsbury Dough Sheets, so this was an opportunity to figure out how to make a king cake with crescent rolls. The stores said they had the inventory, but not enough employees to keep the shelves stocked. YIKES. It takes a little more skill, but it’s still easy peasy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • cinnamon sugar mix: ½ c. granulated sugar + 2 tbsp cinnamon 
  • plastic king cake baby (to hide inside, of course!)
  • purple, green, & gold sugar sprinkles
  • 1 can Pillsbury Cream Cheese Icing or make your own

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
  2. Grease a pizza pan or cover with parchment paper. (Easily transfers to a serving dish using parchment paper.)
  3. Mix the cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Unroll one can of crescent rolls and separate into 8 triangles. Arrange the triangles, slightly overlapping all sides into a half circle with tips pointed toward the center.

5. Finish the circle by laying the triangles from the second can.

6. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix around the middle of the dough.

7. Pull the narrow part of the triangle from the center toward the widest part.

8. Pull the widest part of the triangle from the end toward the center.

9. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

  10. While the cake is in the oven, read THE KING CAKE BABY. Don’t let your baby run away!

Decorate the King Cake

1. Soften ½ can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing or make a cream cheese icing using the recipe below.

Cream cheese icing:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • 3 tablespoons milk

2. Hide one plastic king cake baby in the cake’s underside.

3. While the cake is still warm, pour icing on top.

4. Top with sugar sprinkles, alternating purple, green colors.

5. Before eating, check your piece to see if you got the baby!

And check out my post on how to host an Easy Peasy King Cake Party with pictures.

Bon appétit!

History, Holidays, Louisiana

12 Days of Christmas

Did you know? Today is the first day of Christmas! The 12 Days of Christmas starts today and ends January 5th.

Many of us know the 12 Days of Christmas song. We know it’s about someone getting lots of gifts, especially birds, from their true love. A wee research led me to a number of ideas about its origin. I found reference to an early written version from 1780 published as a children’s “memory and forfeits” game, much like ‘I went to the market and bought’ game where players are tasked with remembering and repeating what was said before their turn. Others hypothesize it’s an English Christmas carol, a French folk song from 1770, and even a ‘code’ persecuted English Catholics used to practice their faith back in the 16th-17th centuries. A century later, it was described as a game played at a Twelfth-night celebration.

Fast forward to the 19th-20th centuries and the parodies ensued. Watch this family of 12 sing their own version called “Creative 12 Days of Christmas” because it’s hilarious!

https://youtu.be/0L3cdVB3H3I

Although opinions vary about the origin or meaning behind the song, today it’s rooted in both secular and Christian Christmas traditions. And it’s so much fun to sing! Whether the song is enjoyed for a secular or religious reason, we can extend the spirit of the season 12 more days, not only through gift giving but also through acts of kindness. 

And on January 6th, also known as Twelfth Night, Le Petit Noël, Little Christmas, Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, the celebration continues! More about that later.

I hope you’ll join me!

 

History, Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras

Why is there a baby in a King Cake?

Ever wonder why there’s a baby in a King Cake? Or how the tradition of eating King Cake during the Carnival season came about? Read my guest post over at Alphabet Soup to find the answers.

Comment and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of my picture book, THE KING CAKE BABY!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras, Picture books

Author Visit: Little Bookworm Bookstore

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Passed a good time at the Little Bookworm bookstore with illustrator Vernon Smith dancing, singing, reading THE KING CAKE BABY and of course eating King Cake! 💜💚💛👑🎭🎺🎵🎷🎶

Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras

King Cake Season is here!

On the first day of Carnival, I cut the first piece of our first King Cake and I got the baby!  It’s Day 2 of Carnival and I ordered my second King Cake! It’s just too tempting with all the varieties, favorites, and new versions. So I wrote a serenity prayer to get me through this visit!


The King Cake Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept these King Cake calories.

Courage to stop when I’ve had enough,

and the wisdom to choose wisely.

AMEN!

Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras

Happy Almost Mardi Gras!

On this day last year I wrote a blog post about the popular song, The 12 days of Christmas.  This is the time of year to actually sing that song. The first day is today, December 25th. The twelfth day is January 5th, Little Christmas, also known as the Twelfth Night, Feast of the Epiphany, Women’s Day, Three Kings’ Day and or Kings’ Day.

During this time of year of course you’ll hear Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakkah, or Happy Holidays. Thanks to the Dirty Coast store there’s have another greeting you should know…

While the holiday season ends for most on New Year’s Day, those of us with roots in Louisiana are gearing up for another season -Mardi Gras, baby!

We get this party started on January 6th with King Cake. And we’ll keep buying, baking and eating them all season long. According to tradition, you want to “get the baby” because it will bring you blessings or good luck.

This year, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is February 13, 2018. That’s 39 days of celebration. Can’t wait to get this party started!

 

Holidays, Writing Craft

Halloweensie Contest 2017: TRICKS & TREATS

It’s Halloweensie time! Every October author Susanna Hill hosts a writing contest. The rules: write a 100 word Halloween story for kids 12 and under using the words candy corn (counted as one word), monster, and shadow.

Tricks & Treats 

The Candy Corn Quartet arrived early to the annual Halloween auditions.

They turned the lights on bright just as the Caramel Candy Quintet

stepped up to perform.

Rather than stick to their notes, the candy stuck to one another.

Backstage, the Chocolate Bars practiced their harmony.

“Nice white costumes,” laughed the quartet.

The Bars sweat through their performance and onto the floor. “Cone

heads!” they yelled.

Up next, the quartet sang in perfect pitch. They got the gig!

The quartet rang the doorbell. A large shadow loomed.

“Treats are here,” yelled a monster. “Yum, my favorite!”

And he gobbled them up.

 

Read the other fun submissions at Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy Halloween!

Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras, School Visits

Author Visits: Mardi Gras 2016

Slide1

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!

 

I had a blast and passed a good time visiting the following schools:

  • St. Pius X Catholic School, New Orleans
  • Terrytown Elementary School, Jefferson Parish Schools
  • Akili Academy, New Orleans
  • Abney Elementary School, Slidell
  • Westpark Montessori Magnet School
  • 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 I 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 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!

Mardi Gras 2017 Countown

Author visits, Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras, School Visits

Author Visits: Mardi Gras 2017

I had a 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 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!

                                                                                                                                               

Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras, School Visits

Mardi Gras 2017 Highlights!

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.

I was a guest author for Scholastic and 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! The strangest food I tasted was a King Cake hamburger. 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 a delightful visit 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!

During Mardi Gras season, The King Cake Baby and I love to Skype with classes. We hung out with first grade students in Kentucky.

Just so happens World Read Aloud Day, known as WRAD, is always in February, during Carnival. 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. Mon amie’s daughter’s Girl Scout troop from San Diego celebrated!   💜💚

Every year I bring a King Cake to my tennis club. Guess who got the baby?

This tradition is fun no matter your age or where you live. If you haven’t eaten a piece of King Cake to celebrate Carnival, there’s always next year!

  Happy Mardi Gras! 

Holidays, Mardi Gras, Picture books

Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Eh la bas! A young kidlit blogger at Bridget and the Books is hosting a giveaway of THE KING CAKE BABY. Run to her blog and comment on her post to enter. Last day to enter is February 17th. Good luck!

Happy Mardi Gras! 🎶🎺🎵🎷🎭🎶👑

Holidays, Mardi Gras, Recipes

Easy Peasy Pillsbury King Cake

Happy Almost Mardi Gras! Every January 6th kicks off the official king cake season and Carnival. I wrote a guest post about the history of king cakes on Jama’s Alphabet Soup blog for all you food history and culture buffs. 

Today I want to share another easy king cake recipe. The recipe in my book, THE KING CAKE BABY, uses frozen bread dough with a cinnamon-sugar filling and includes a recipe for making a Cream Cheese icing. In this recipe, I use three Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets, the cinnamon-sugar mix, colored sugar sprinkles, and a can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing. Easy peasy! The only thing easier than making this king cake is picking one up at your favorite grocery or bakery.

Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheet King Cake Recipe

 Ingredients:

  • 3 Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets
  • cinnamon sugar mix: ½ c. granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon 
  • 1 plastic king cake baby (to hide inside, of course!)
  • purple, green, & gold sugar sprinkles
  • 1 can Pillsbury Cream Cheese Icing or make your own 

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 °F (190 °C).

Cover a baking pan with parchment paper or use a nonstick cookie sheet. Unroll dough sheets and sprinkle each with about a tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar mix. 

Roll each dough sheet from the shortest side of the rectangle. 

Arrange into an oval shape. Press seams together to connect. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Decorate the King Cake

Soften ½ can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing. Have purple, green, gold sprinkles handy.

While the cake is still warm, pour icing on top. Alternate with purple, green and gold colored Mardi Gras sprinkles.

If you prefer to make your own icing:

Cream-Cheese Icing

3 cups powdered sugar

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons melted butter

¼ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

3 tablespoons milk

Mix all five ingredients in a bowl. The icing should be thick enough to slowly drip from a whisk or spoon. Drizzle over the warm cake.

Hide a plastic King Cake Baby in the underside of the cake. Before eating, check to see if you got the baby! 

Click Mardi Gras King Cake from Pillsbury Dough Sheets to download the recipe.

And if any of you need a gluten-free recipe, see this Red Mill cinnamon roll recipe.

 

Diverse Books, Holidays, Picture books

Christmas & Hanukkah

This Perfect Picture Book Pair celebrates the most wonderful time of the year to read… Christmas and Hanukkah stories!

Title: Jackie’s Gift

Author: Sharon Robinson

Illustrator: E. B. Lewis

Publisher: Viking (2010)

Age Range: 3-7 years

The famous baseball player Jackie Robinson gives a gift to a boy he befriends in his new neighborhood. The gesture allows the two families to learn about their different holiday traditions.

Title: Dear Santa, Love Rachel Rosenstein

Authors: Amanda Peet & Andrea Troyer

Illustrator: Christine Davenier

Publisher: Doubleday Books for Young Readers  (2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years

When Rachel Rosenstein feels she’s missing out because her family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she learns others celebrate differently at this time of year too.

A Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience,  or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Holidays, Mardi Gras

5 Little King Cake Babies Action Song

Here are the lyrics and numbered babies to use with this action song that accompanies THE KING CAKE BABY book. Click here for a pdf copy including the numbered signs.  Click here to download a copy of the numbered finger and stick puppets. Enjoy!

 

Holidays, Picture books

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

PERFECT timing for this Perfect Picture Book Pair!

This October, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur are celebrated, and it’s also National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Both books are inspired by the Yiddish folksong “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (I Had a Little Overcoat or My Coat). And both stories show how grandparents re-use and re-purpose fabric to leave a legacy of love.

Title: Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya

Author: Monica Brown

Illustrator: David Diaz

Publisher: Children’s Book Press (CA); and imprint of Lee & Low Bilingual edition (August 15, 2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Topics: Latino culture, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

Title: My Grandfather’s Coat

Author: Jim Aylesworth  

Illustrator: Barbara McClintock

Publisher: Scholastic Press  (October 2014)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Topics: Immigration, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

A Perfect Picture Book Pair  showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include diverse settings, life experiences, and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

Kids love to see their own reflections in books. Join me and = #ReadYourWorld!

Diverse Books, Holidays, Picture books

Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Catherine’s Pascha – A Celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church

Written by: Charlotte Riggle

Illustrated by: R. J. Hughes

Publisher: Phoenix Flair Press (2015)

Suitable for ages: 6 and up

Themes/Topics: Pascha (Easter), Orthodox Christian Easter, Eastern Orthodox Church, religious celebrations, religious diversity, cultures from around the world

Brief Synopsis: Through the eyes of a young girl named Catherine, readers learn about Pascha [PAH-ska], the Orthodox Christian Easter service celebrated in communities around the world. Catherine is determined to stay awake on Holy Saturday this year so she can experience the Pascha (Easter) service at her church. In beginning of the story, while Catherine naps, the family is busy with preparations for the feast that follows the service on Easter Sunday. After they leave for the service, the author takes us inside the church to experience the details of this special celebration. The illustrations show different churches from around the world, in all seven continents, where Pascha has been celebrated – yes, even in Antarctica!

Besides the story, the author includes back matter, a glossary and Frequently Asked Questions pages for easy reference.

Opening pages:  Mom says I have to go to bed at my regular time, even though it’s Holy Saturday.

“But, Mom!” I say. “It’s going to be time to get up in just a little while!”

“All the more reason for you to get a little nap,” she says, and she turns off the light.

Well, Mom can make me go to bed, but she can’t make me go to sleep. I’m going to stay awake until it’s time to go to church.”

Why I like this book: Catherine’s Pascha is a lovely story packed with details about a special annual event still celebrated today. Children will certainly identify with the child centered character of Catherine the author created. Given I was raised Roman Catholic, this story brought back many memories of Christmas midnight mass, including the excitement of wanting to stay awake. Although our Easter was celebrated in a daytime service, just as Catherine and her family, we celebrated Easter by wearing new clothing, and eating special food after fasting for Lent.

This story would be a good addition to any collection of books on world religions, Orthodox traditions, and Orthodox Pascha (Easter).

Resources:

See the Charlotte Riggle’s website which is filled with further reading, resources, activities, and more.

Listen to Charlotte Riggle’s interview by Bobby Maddex with Ancient Faith Ministries podcast.

Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here to read more of today’s book reviews.

Happy Reading!

 

Author visits, Holidays, School Visits

Abney Elementary School in Slidell, LA

**Abney Elementary Author Visit**

What a fun, fun school visit with Mrs. Lewis’ third graders during Carnival. They sure let the good times roll during Mardi Gras 2016. I made my debut appearance on the Abney Elementary Morning Show! What a fun way to start the day. I saw future news anchors in action.

We read The King Cake Baby, and sang 12 Days of Carnival. Then the class shared their fun MISSING worksheets with me. This class has talent. There are many future authors and illustrators among them. What a fun, talented group of kids and faculty!

Author visits, Holidays, School Visits

St. Pius X, New Orleans, LA

**St. Pius X Catholic School Author Visit**

Such a wonderful school visit with all the St. Pius X third grade classes during Carnival. Mardi Gras 2016 was a blast.

We ate King Cake, read and discussed The King Cake Baby, and sang 12 Days of Carnival. The soloist for the 5th Day who sang “5 Bowls of Gumbo”, knocked it out of the park!

Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras 2016!

Happy Mardi Gras! After two weeks of Carnival back home I can imagine the excitement in New Orleans today. It wasn’t a long season, but sure wasn’t short on fun. I was able to indulge in family, friends, music, and my favorite foods while there. Of course all appear on the Mardi Gras food pyramid, but there’s only one at the top.

King Cake!

1. Mardi Gras food pyramid

Here’s a look at King Cake consumption over the Carnival season from the Twelfth Night on January 6 to Ash Wednesday, courtesy of a poster on reddit. I believe this info is pretty accurate!

And just about as popular as this tasty treat is our beloved King Cake Baby! Everyone loves that baby.

The best part of this holiday is that we get to enjoy Carnival again and again, year after year. Here’s to Mardi Gras 2017. Start the clock. Only 364 days away. But who’s counting? ME!

 

Holidays, Picture books

Picture Books for the Holiday & Ever After

There are many lists out there for all your holiday reading needs. Many from well known sources. Most books never make those lists. As a new author, I know the importance of getting the word out about your work. We certainly can’t buy every book published, but we can support authors, illustrators, and bookstores by sharing those we read and enjoy. Blogging or writing reviews on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads also helps spread the word. So I created my own list.

Gingerbread books

It’s not just books, but people who blog frequently about books. People who are passionate about picture books and what they mean to kids and parents and teachers and librarians.

Anyone looking for a gift or simply love to read and or collect picture books, below are links to some fabulous titles.

Goodreads with Ronna has two posts about Christmas books Roundup Part 1 and Part 2

Just Us Books put together a list of holiday books with diverse themes and or character or by authors least represented in the world of publishing.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) launched a Book Party event to help support their membership in an effort to market 2015 releases.

What about after the holiday? Below are my go to blogs for learning about books by reading reviews. It’s a very diverse list because I am a huge supporter of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #ReadYourWorld campaigns.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day  is January 27, 2016. This site showcases new and old releases with diverse content.

Mia Wenjen aka Pragmatic Mom , Co-Founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day blogs about parenting, books, and education.

Valarie Budayr Jump Into A Book, Co-Founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Valarie says, “Jump into a Book is a site about the love of children’s books and how they can incorporate them into our everyday lives through play, crafting, cooking, movies, games, traveling and author visits. At JIAB, we strive to pull books off shelves and stories off pages to create reading experiences for families.”

Susanna Hill hosts Perfect Picture Book Friday. Authors and writers share weekly book reviews. She has an extensive list of books by category.

Patricia Tilton, Children’s Books Heal. Looking for a book that addresses a tough topic? Search this blog. Patricia says, “I want my blog to be a resource for parents, grandparents and teachers who are searching for a special gem that will help a child through a tough time.” And it is indeed.

Juliana Lee’s Crafting Stories. From her Books Alive! page or Celebrate Every Day with a Picture Book page, or easy reader and early chapter book reviews from her 2015 Cybils page, Juliana has something current for everyone.

Tiffa blogs about picture books she reads with her two sons at her site, The Picture Book Review. Note: They read a lot of books!

Goodreads with Ronna by Ronna Mandel who is a former Associate Editor at L.A. Parent, and a team of reviewers keep us up to date on current releases. She reviews inclusive books with characters and or topics specific to a population with special needs.

Danielle Davis blogs at This Picture Book Life, She says, “This blog brings picture books to life through crafts, book pairings, interviews, recipes, and other fun stuff.” Her reviews are thought provoking and honest.

See my picture book reviews here and my perfect picture book pairs here or on Facebook.

These are a few of my favorites, there are so many, many more.

Happy Holiday reading! Happy reading in 2016!

Diverse Books, Holidays, Picture books

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules

DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post!

Written: Jacqueline Jules   

illustrated by: Kathryn Mitter

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (2009)

Suitable for ages: 6-8

Topics/Themes: Vietnamese culture, American Thanksgiving, cultural awareness, cultural diversity, acceptance, assimilation, acculturation

Brief Synopsis: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is the story of a girl of Vietnamese heritage who learns about Thanksgiving in school. The class makes a turkey from pine cones, sing Turkey songs, and her teacher refers to the day as turkey day, but her family always serves duck. Tuyet’s plan is to convince her family to eat turkey, known by many as the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving food. But they end up using her grandmother’s recipe for duck like they always do and Tuyet even has a second helping. When school resumes after the holiday, Tuyet is reluctant to talk about her holiday meal until other classmates tell about their dinners that included lamb, enchiladas, and noodles.

Opening pages:  To get ready for Thanksgiving, Tuyet’s class sang Turkey songs. They made pine cone turkeys. They talked about Pilgrims and Native Americans.

“See you Monday.” Mrs. Cook said when the bell rang. “Have a good Turkey Day.”

Why I like this book: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is a delightful book which introduces children to Vietnamese culinary traditions. It is a perfect fit to include in a #weneeddiversebooks list. In addition to addressing cultural diversity, there is a multi-generational component woven into the story that I also enjoyed. It’s a wonderful story that shows there is no ‘right way’ to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. The day is also about giving thanks and spending time with family, not only eating turkey!

Resources:

  • Click here for the Children’s Choice Award lesson plan on page 12.
  • Click here for the library sparks lesson plan.
  • Click here for multicultural Thanksgiving Songs by the Jacqueline Jules.
  • Click here to see the book trailer.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here to go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

Diverse Books, Holidays, Picture books

A Halloween Perfect Picture Book Pair

A Perfect Picture Book Pair for Halloween!

Title: Los Gatos Black on Halloween
Written by: Marisa Montes
Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (August 22, 2006)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a spooky bilingual Halloween poem that introduces young readers to spooky Spanish words. 

Amazon copy: Under October’s luna, full and bright, the monsters are throwing a ball in the Haunted Hall. Las brujascome on their broomsticks. Los muertos rise from their coffins to join in the fun. Los esqueletos rattle their bones as they dance through the door. And the scariest creatures of all aren’t even there yet!

Title:  Bone Dog
Written/Illustrated by: Eric Rohmann
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Bone Dog is a touching story that deals with the reality of death when a pet nears the end of life and makes a promise to his best friend.

Amazon copy: Gus doesn’t feel like doing much after his dog Ella dies. He doesn’t really even feel like dressing up for Halloween. But when Gus runs into a bunch of rowdy skeletons, it’s Ella–his very own Bone dog–who comes to his aid, and together they put those skeletons in their place. A book about friendship, loss, and a delightfully spooky Halloween.

Holidays, Picture books

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man runaway tales from near & far are as old as they are vast, brought to us in many versions from around the world. Research shows the story began as an oral storytelling tradition, a According to a researcher at The The Straight Dope, the history behind “gyngerbreed” dates back to 1386, that’s the 14th century folks! And the early gingerbread treats were made in the shape of a fluer de lis, or men or pigs.

Leave it to the Brothers’ Grimm to show the dark side of what most think of as a moral lesson for children about vanity. In their nightmarish twist on the Gingerbread Man, a young child is splashed with mud and the mud steals the child’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Yikes! Then it runs off yelling, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” You can see a short clip of their creepy version on YouTube here. Yeah, run, run, as fast as you can to get away from that thing!!!

The first documented account of a Gingerbread tale in the United States appeared in 1875. “The Gingerbread Boy,” was a story printed in the May issue of St. Nicholas magazine, a children’s literary journal. And over centuries, it has been re-imagined over and over.

What’s your favorite spin on this re-told tale? You know mine, The King Cake Baby, about our very own New Orleans runaway, of course!

*updated with new titles

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Holidays, Picture books

Betty Bunny Loves Easter

Happy Easter Everybunny!

Betty Bunny Loves Easter is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Written by Michael B. Kaplan 

Illustrated by: Stéphane Jorisch

Publisher: Dial Books (February 2015)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Easter, growing up, seeking independence, family, overcoming disappointment

Brief Synopsis: Betty Bunny wants to become the Easter Bunny one day but when she has difficulty finding eggs on her own at an Easter egg hunt she becomes discouraged.

Opening pages: “Betty Bunny was a handful.

She knew this because on the night before Easter, she was hopping all around the kitchen handing eggs to her parents, her brothers, and her sister. And that’s when everyone in her family said at once: “Betty Bunny, you are a handful.”

Why I like this book: Many families will recognize the character portrayed in the Betty Bunny series. She is indeed a handful! But even when naughty, Betty Bunny is loved. In this new addition to the series, Betty Bunny discovers her older siblings are helping her fill her basket with eggs on the Easter egg hunt. She tells them she would prefer to find them on her own. But when she only finds one egg, she decides “Easter is yucky”. Her parents encourage her to keep trying.

Resources: A page dedicated to the Easter Bunny theme can be found here.

For more of today’s book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

 

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