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 26th. The twelfth day is January 6th, 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!
Think you can catch dat baby? Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to find out!
“No mon ami, you can’t catch me, I’m the King Cake Baby!”
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.
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! 🎶🎶
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Second graders sang the 12 Days of Carnival. So much fun! 🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶
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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 12 days of Christmas starts today. I know the song by the same name first played on the radio the day after Halloween. For some cultures, primarily in Europe and Latin America, the first day of Christmas started on December 25 and will end January 5. Here in the US, at least in creole Louisiana, the first day starts today, December 26 and will end January 6.
So what’s up with that 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 guesses about its origin. The earliest written version is from 1780 published as a children’s “memory and forfeits” game much like the game ‘I went to the market and bought’ where players are tasked with remembering and repeating what was said before them. 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. If “The 12 Days of Christmas” Happened in Real Life is a very funny video and 12 Days of Christmas parody of the Johnston family.
Although no one can say with certainty what the meaning is behind the song or the origin, today it’s rooted in both secular and Christian Christmas traditions. And it’s so much fun to sing! Whether there is a connection or not, there are 12 days from today till January 6th, also known Twelfth Night, Le Petit Noël, Little Christmas, Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day.
Whether the song is enjoyed for a secular or religious reason, we can extend the spirit of the season 12 more days. My plan is continue gift giving, but through acts of kindness. I hope you will join me!
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!
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!
In addition to 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).
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.
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!
"12 Days of Carnival" Song by: Ms. Keila Dawson
Posted by Terrytown Elementary School on Wednesday, February 3, 2016
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!
DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post!
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 multi-generational component weaved into the story that I also enjoyed. It’s is a wonderful story that demonstrates 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!
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 go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.
That ended quickly!! Check back tomorrow. New giveaway will be announced!!
Catch him if you can! #AmazonGiveaway! Enter here for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends September 21, 2015!
If you’ve ever had king cake, you know a tiny plastic baby belongs inside the cake. But what if the baby runs away before he’s hidden inside the cake?
The King Cake Baby is a tasty re-telling of the Gingerbread Man tale, told New Orleans style! The runaway baby is chased by an old Creole lady and an old Creole man, a praline lady in Jackson Square, and a waiter at Café du Monde. But can he outrun a clever baker?
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’!
Happy Easter Everybunny!
Betty Bunny Loves Easter is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is
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.
Thanks to Video Production by Carrie Charley Brown!
What do the King Cake Baby & Mr. Bingle have in common? They are both New Orleans icons. And about the same age too.
Every baby boomer who grew up in New Orleans visited Mr. Bingle in the Maison Blanche window then went inside the store to take a photo with Santa himself. Credit for the creation of this Christmas icon goes to Mr. Emile Alline who was the window-display manager at the store. Back in 1948, a French Quarter puppeteer named Edwin H.Isentrout was hired to promote the little snowman named Mr. Bingle and advertise the MB franchise. Between the storefront window display, TV commercials, and visits to other store locations, the image became a New Orleans icon.
We can thank Daniel Entringer, Sr. for popularizing the icon of the small plastic baby known as the king cake baby hidden inside king cakes.. He was a cheesemaker from Wisconsin who bought McKenzie’s Pastry Shoppes from Henry McKenzie in 1932. At one time, McKenzie’s bakery was the most popular bakery in New Orleans offering sweets such as buttermilk drops, blackout cakes, petit fours, eclairs, and chocolate turtles to name a few, in addition to their famous king cakes. When a Carnival Krewe named the Twelfth Night Revelers asked Entringer to make king cakes for them, they supplied their own trinkets to hide inside the cake as custom dictated. However, according to the history told, a friend of Entringer found a plastic baby in a French Quarter shop back in the 1940’s and suggested he use it. The baker started using the plastic baby then and created the tradition that continues to this very day. A king cake without a baby hidden inside is simply a cinnamon roll!
Susanna Hill is hosting her 4th annual Halloweensie Contest. The rules are to write a Halloween story in 100 words or less including the words pumpkin, broomstick and any variation of creak. Easy, say you? NOT! But I gave it a go. Here’s my entry using 99 words. Enjoy.
Hildy’s Halloween Ride
BAM! Hildy moaned. She picked up her hat, and put it back on. Then holding on to the broomstick once more, Hildy lifted her left foot on top of a pumpkin and carefully raised her right foot up and over. She tried to balance but wobbled. Then suddenly – SNAP!
“Owww-eee.” groaned Hildy.
Hildy’s heart raced. The witches will want to take off soon. She pointed her wand at the broken pieces. Nothing happened. The book of spells might work but she hadn’t yet learned to read. Then the door creaked open.
“Mooooom!” shouted Anna. “Hildy ruined my costume!”
Title: Ghosts for Breakfast
Written by: Stanley Todd Teraski
Illustrated by: Shelly Shinjo
Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc. 2002
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Japanese culture, immigration, ghosts, community, cultural awareness
Brief Synopsis: Neighbors fear there are ghosts in the fields where they farm. A man and his young son go out to prove otherwise.
Opening pages: “PON! PON! PON!
The pounding at the door shattered my family’s peaceful evening
PON! PON! PON!
Who could it be at this time of night? I saw Mama’s puzzled look as Papa opened the door a crack and peered out.
“Ah, Papa delighted, “”The Troubelsome Triplets.”
Why I like this book: Set in a farming town during the 19th century when Japanese families immigrated to the west coast, this story is about how a father and son tackle fear of ghosts that their neighbors are convinced are real..
For more book reviews see author Susanna Hill’s page, Perfect Picture Book page.
134 days until Mardi Gras 2015!
Who else is counting?
Keep up with the latest in Carnival news at Mardi Gras Central Countdown
Title: Shy Mama’s Halloween
Written by: Anne Broyles
Illustrated by: Leane Morin
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers; (August 1, 2000)
Age Range:4 and up
Themes/Topics: holiday, courage, shyness, immigration, cultural awareness
Brief Synopsis: Anya and her sisters want to go trick or treating in their new neighborhood. Their papa agreed to take them but now he’s sick. Their shy mother overcomes her fear of all things new and experiences her first Halloween.
Why I like this book: A nice story about the holiday seen through the eyes of immigrants new to the United States.
Resources: See the author’s site for a teacher’s guide.
Just in time to find and read for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.
Title: Apple Pie 4th of July
Written by: Janet S. Wong
Illustrated by: Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; May 1, 2006
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: celebrating holidays, community, immigration, cultural awareness, third culture adults and kids
Brief Synopsis: A little girl questions her parents’ understanding of the Fourth of July holiday when they open their store to sell Chinese food.
Opening pages: “Seven days a week, fifty-two weeks, three-hundred-sixty-four days a year (and three-hundred-sixty-five in a leap-year) our store is open.
Christmas is the only day we close.
Even on Thanksgiving we open the store.
Even today, New Year’s Day.
Even today, the Fourth of July.”
Why I like this book: Firstly, the main character is a feisty female! The book is based on a true life conversation with the author and her father on the Fourth of July. The book is based on a true life conversation with the author and her father on the Fourth of July. But the conversation was brief because her parents were busy selling food from their family mini mart. When asked why the store opened on the holiday, “And why not, “Fireworks are Chinese, father says.”
Wong is able to show the complexity of cultural adaptation. A perfect book for third culture kids and adults.
How do you celebrate the Fourth of July?
http://www.teachingbooks.net/book_reading.cgi?id=5144&a=1 (author interview)
Title: Arturo and the Navidad Birds
Written by: Anne Broyles
Illustrated by: KE Lewis
Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. 2013, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: honesty, accepting responsibility, courage, compassion, forgiveness, cultural awareness
Brief Synopsis: Arturo helps his grandmother Abue Rosa decorate her Navidad tree. She explains the origin of each ornament from her childhood, and those she received as gifts from friends. Arturo breaks one of her treasured ornaments when Abue Rosa is not in the room. And after she returns and asks if he’s seen the ornament, he hides it from her. Arturo then tries but fails to repair the ornament. But then he is remorseful and tells his grandmother what happened. Abue Rosa is forgiving and takes what Arturo made from the broken ornament and adds it to her Navidad tree and comforts him by saying to Arturo, “People are more important than things. mi’jo.”
Opening pages: “Arturo bounced up and down in front of the pine tree. “Hurry, Abue!”
His grandmother called from the kitchen, “Momentito, mi’jo.”
Arturo saltaba una y otra ves frente al árbol de pino. “Date prisa, Abue!”
Su abuela lo llamaba desde la cocina, “Momentito, mi’jo.”
Arturo frowned at the sting of unlit lights. “Our Navidad tree looks empty.”
Abue Rosa wiped her hands on her apron as she bustled into the living room. “It will soon be full.”
Arturo fruncíó el ceño al mirar las luces de Navidad sin encender. “Nuestro árbol de Navidad se ve vacío.”
Abue Rosa secó sus manos en el delantal mientras caminaba dentro de la sala. “Pronto estará lleno.”
Why I like this book: This is a heartwarming story of the relationship between a boy and his grandmother. The themes are universal. The boy, Arturo makes a mistake, is not honest in the beginning, and tries a resolution that fails. His grandmother is forgiving and shows Arturo her love by explaining that people are more important than things.
This book is an example of what the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign running this May 1-3, 2014 is all about. The front cover and title tell us the book is representative of one of the underrepresented groups in the world of children’s literature because the illustrations include a child and adult who have toffee colored skin. All people can be described by color; but this book is written about people with skin of a particular color who are part of a particular culture. In addition, Arturo and the Navidad Birds is a story any child or adult, regardless of the color of their skin, will enjoy. And for an extra bonus, the reader may learn some Spanish words since the book is published in both English and Spanish. Kudos to the author and illustrator. Well done, Pelican Publishing.
Resources: Free teacher study guide on the author’s site.