Easter Treats Recall Ancient Myths by Marilyn Ostermiller.

From chocolate bunnies to colored eggs, traditional Easter treats can be traced back to the 13th century.

The Easter Bunny tradition is thought to stem from the German myth of Osterhas, a rabbit said to have laid colored eggs in early spring. In anticipation of his arrival, children made nests for him, according to history.com

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Decorated eggs date back to pagan festivities in the 13th century that also celebrated spring’s arrival. Easter is a Christian holy day marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s traditionally celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.

Recipes for festive Easter sweets abound. Easter egg bread, which involves baking dyed Easter eggs into braided loaves of sweet bread, are attention-getters.  A word of caution, guests can eat the dyed eggs if the loaves are kept refrigerated from the time they are taken out of the oven, until they are served. Otherwise, display your Easter egg bread proudly, but   treat the eggs like you would any nonedible decoration.

thumbnail_IMG_1129Chick and Egg Cupcakes are showstopper on the Easter dinner dessert cart. The recipe is available online on the Food Network app in the App Store. 

Contemporary Easter egg hunts combine the traditions of searching for the eggs left by the Easter bunny with the practice of decorating eggs.

How to produce an Easter egg hunt:

Ask your invited guests to RSVP.

Find a backup location in case of inclement weather, especially if the hunt is for real eggs. Sniffing out an elusive rotten egg weeks later is no fun.

          If you ask invitees to bring their own basket, offer a reward for the most original basket. Designate someone to anonymously judge the baskets before the egg hunt. Reward the winner. Maybe with a five second head start for the egg hunt.

           If you do provide baskets, pails, gift bags or another festive container  remember to keep the size relative to the number of eggs your hunters are likely to find. Basket is a relative term. Gift bags and pails work as well.

          Include about a dozen eggs for each participant.  Artificial grass to line the baskets is a nice touch.

          Hide the eggs strategically based on the ages of the hunters. If the age range is wide, offer two hunts.        egg in tree

DSC_2006-20160406-Easter Egg

          Some hunts rely on hard boiled eggs. Plastic eggs filled with candy, small plastic toys, or money are popular too.

          Prizes are optional.

thumbnail_img_1886Marilyn Ostermiller is a longtime journalist who enjoys tracing the history of traditional holiday foods.

Amalia Hoffman Presents a New PB: My Monsterpiece + a give-away!

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Today it is my pleasure to feature one of my favorite picture book author/illustrators AMALIA HOFFMAN with her newest creation MY MONSTERPIECE. Here’s my review of this delightful book: 

“MY MONSTERPIECE by Amalia Hoffman is a charming and delightful story! LOVE the color and creativity of the art and the message that a monster is in the eye of the beholder and creator. We may all see things differently, but find joy and delight in it anyway. Oh what fun it will be for little ones to make their own monsterpieces. A celebration of creativity and imagination.”

For a chance to win a copy of this delightful book, leave a comment at the end of this post. Your name will then be entered in the give-away. If you share the post on social media, I will put your name in twice.

I asked Amalia where she got the inspiration for this clever and creative story. Here’s her answer:

My inspiration for My Monsterpiece was the many years I worked with young children. I decided to create my monsters for the book with art supplies that kids actually use. Children are very free in their creative process. They love bright colors and will doodle on any torn paper, the kitchen table, wall — anything!   Well, I didn’t doodle on my table or wall, but I did paint on a supermarket shopping bag, crumbled bits of paper, and even paper plates. In some illustrations, I glued on yarn, glitter, buttons and even fruit loops. Kids love to get their hands messy. So I dipped my fingers in gooey blobs of paint. It was very therapeutic. A lot of the art in the book was painted with my fingers, rather then with brushes. I also spritzed paint with a toothbrush, letting the bits of color drop where they may. I wanted each illustration to celebrate kid’s colorful art. At the end of the day, my studio was a mess but I felt liberated!

I was inspired to create a book that will be funny and entertaining but will have a non-preachy message that when we free ourselves from bias and stereotyping, our word is more colorful and we can befriend each other even if we don’t look or behave in the same way.

Apparently, I was a very temperamental child. When I got angry with my mom and dad, I used to punish them by tearing the greeting cards I created for their birthdays and anniversaries.  Years later, when I visited my parents who lived in Jerusalem, I found an envelope with all the bits of torn art that my father saved. When I created My Monsterpiece, I showed the kid’s frustration by creating one spread that feature the kid’s torn monsters.

I remember that when I was about 8, I entered a contest, sponsored by a children’s magazine, to draw a scary witch. Apparently, just like the kid in my book, mine didn’t scare anyone and I didn’t win.

The book includes activities and art projects kids can easily accomplish with materials readily available like paper bags, crayons, glue, markers.

Amalia Hoffman is an author, illustrator and storyteller.Her picture book, The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero (Capstone Publishing, 2019, illustrated by Chiara Fedele) is a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection book.All Colors (Schiffer Publishing, 2019) made the list of best board books, 2019, chosen by School Library Journal. Dreidel Day (Lerner Publishing Group, 2018) is a PJ Library book and received the PJ Library Author Incentive Award.

She is also the author/illustrator of Astro Pea (Schiffer Publishing, 2019.) Her picture book, My Monsterpiece is coming up from Yeehoo Press, March, 2021. Hanukkah Nights (Lerner Publishing Group, 2022) received the first PJ Library Incentive Award for an author and illustrator. Masha Munching is coming up from Yeehoo Press in spring 2021.

Amalia is a participating artist at ArtsWestchester, a cultural organization that pairs artists and writers with schools and community centers. She holds a Masters degree in art and art education from New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honor from Pratt Institute.

Visit Amalia at http://www.amaliahoffman.com

Be a Good Cookie Baker And Help Fight Cancer.

Baking cookies is a special part of our holiday tradition .  I know it’s the same for many families.  So, while you’re making those bite-sized treats for the holiday, how about making and extra batch for a good cause.  COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER bake sales have raised nearly 15 million dollars for pediatric cancer research.  They’ve also funded 100 research grants through grassroots events nationwide. http://www.cookiesforcancer.org

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How To Make Birch Tree: An Easy Art Project For All Ages by Guy Oliveri

It is my pleasure to day to feature illustrator Guy Oliveri who will share an awesome, simple , and creative art project that requires only materials you already have at home. A perfect project for home-schooling and virtual schooling. Here’s Guy:

If parents find themselves homeschooling these days, it is important not to forget art. Here is a fall art project that I created for my students.

In this project, I tried to show that a student could use tools that may be found around the home. This not only focused on creativity but also taught a bit of critical thinking- i.e. how do you think we can make a birch tree? It is also a project that has no age boundaries.

What you’ll need:      1.png

  1. A unique background- newspaper, old book pages, music sheets (We found this old music book at a yard sale).
  2. Paint or markers to make a background
  3. Correction ribbon
  4. Correction pen
  5. A pencil
  6. A push pin or a scoring too.

2.Create your background with watercolor paint or markers. Then let dry. You can also design a background digitally then print it on your paper.

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3.Using the correction ribbon, make long strokes from the bottom to the top. You can double up on the strokes to create thicker trees.

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4.With the pushpin or scoring tool, (be careful) score the ribbon to create texture. I had my students make “smiles” from side to side.

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5. Next, we shaded the some of the trees to separate some of the ones that over lapped one another (this added some depth).

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6. Moving on… Now using the correction pen, create the smaller branches beginning at the bottom and working upward as well. Note: If the correction pen leaks out at first, simply make the base of the branch thicker and drag the excess upward. You may want to try a practice run on a separate piece of paper to determine how your pen is functioning.

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7.Finally, a nice matte completes the project!

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8.Some examples of some other students work:    9.png

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Guy photo.png

Guy T. Olivieri is a freelance illustrator, writer, and retired crime scene investigator. A recognized crime scene and fingerprint expert, Guy, has assisted dozens of mystery writers. He enjoys being a guest teacher of forensics and forensic entomology(the study of how insects help solve crimes) to elementary, middle school, and high school students. His whimsical and straightforward approach to police science has made him a sought out favorite with kids of all ages. He also teaches art, always encouraging kids to maintain that creative gift!
 
Website:  PrivateerArt.com
 

PIPPIN PALS ARE HERO HELPERS! by :Donna Marie. A New Series To Answer Kids Questions About the Pandemic. Enter to Win A Book!

Today it is my pleasure to feature a timely new book series that answers children’s questions about the pandemic. Written by Donna Marie PIPPIN PALS ARE HERO HELPERS. Here’s Donna to explain:

 What prompted the writing of this timely book?   

Back in March, when this pandemic really hit the U.S., I was glued to my Twitter feed and CNN; not all that much different than regular days, but with much more intensity. I was blown away by the KidLit community, from publishers on down, along with librarians and teachers when, very early on, they were offering all kinds of amazing things to families with children to help them get through the whole stay-at-home situation. I really wanted to contribute, but it took days before my foggy brain pulled up a book around 1993ish. It was called The Rainy Day. In it were ideas of what to do on a rainy day. I first thought to post the list of things to do on my blog, but nixed the idea just as quickly because it really wouldn’t offer more than what was already out there, so why waste my time? Then I thought maybe to rewrite the story’s beginning and post it on my site with a few of the dummy illustrations. Once I began writing, I ended up with an almost totally new story.

You did a perfect job of showing something scary in a safe and non-threatening way. How did you decide on the format of rhyming text?

Such high praise! Thank you, Darlene! And you’re right—it’s scary. The Rainy Day was written in rhyme (which comes naturally with most of my picture books) so I started there. I kept it in rhyme because the musical quality of it helps soften such hard subject matter, and I felt it might keep younger children more engaged. I did my best to explain, and also show through illustration, something as abstract as a virus as best I could, and depict what children are witnessing going on around them in a way they could understand. They are being asked to comply with unusual rules and much of their normal lifestyles have been upended. It’s hard enough for us adults to adjust, let alone kids!

I love how the book can be personalized so that children of color can see themselves in the pages. Explain how that came about in your illustration process.

Ah, well, THAT is why this story ended up actually becoming books and not just a blog post. As timing would have it, last fall I became aware that Shutterfly accepted unsolicited submissions. In researching, I saw how they really expanded how personalized customer’s could make their books by picking more than just their name. They could sometimes choose the main character’s gender, skin color and hair. Wanting to submit to them, I figured out a way to create a book that could include my six diverse characters. I wrote a story that would work with the personalization, but in the midst of it I found out Shutterfly closed book submissions due to administrative changes. I lost that project, BUT, as often is the case—the creative process wasn’t in vain. My having come up with a way to make the same book with interchangeable characters for diversity’s sake, when it dawned on me that I could do that digitally and could publish them as ebooks on Amazon, I was “sold.” Once I realized I had the power to execute these books, there was no stopping me! And now that I finally accomplished the publishing part, once I have promo behind me, I plan to create 2 more inclusive versions 🙂

What is your hope for this book?
Having to do things like stay physically distant, wear masks and wash hands often does not come naturally to most people, and getting kids to comply is not easy. Being compliant is not only critically important to help contain the spread of the virus, but it’s also the right thing to do. Caring about others should come easily, but doesn’t always, and children need to learn this at a young age. The seriousness of a global pandemic is certainly a time to set this example. By doing these basic, simple things we help ourselves, the people around us, and ultimately the heroic, essential workers. I’ve always felt that, especially with young children, they learn—and listen—when tasks and lessons are presented as “fun” or a “game.” Blending that with their penchant to often emulate or want to “be” Superheroes (and princesses), I believe it helps them understand that they are “heroes” by being Hero Helpers. I think it’s appealing in a way that helps reinforce these new “super power” habits we’re trying to instill.

 

I’d also like to encourage parents, teachers, doctors—anyone—to go to the website I created specifically to share free downloads. I originally wanted to include hand-washing and mask-wearing instructions in the book itself, but that really didn’t work for the storytelling, and couldn’t add pages for that purpose, at least not initially. That’s when I decided to create a website and know the value of having printed instructional material. You will find an array of kid-friendly, printable downloads to post anywhere from bathrooms to kitchens to bedrooms to classrooms to doctor’s offices and more, that could serve as useful tools to instruct and reinforce these habits. I made them in both 8 ½ x 11” and 11 x 17” sizes for this purpose.

PURCHASE LINKS for Amazon and Apple Books ebook and paperback versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! are on Donna’s website:  Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! Books. Just remember—all versions are the same story; you just pick the character/s that suit the readers best. And one lucky reader can win a copy of the version of their choice by leaving a comment below. One random winner will be drawn from all who enter and announced in a later post.

You can follow :Donna on Twitter and Facebook, and her Writer Side UP! and Creativity “Cookbook” blogs, and Pippin Pals at https://pippinherohelpers.com/  , Twitter and Facebook   COMING SOON: 2 more inclusive versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers!: one interracial family, one with same-sex parents.

Throughout her life, :Donna Marie has had many jobs and pastimes. Just to name a few: cashier, bartender, waitress, a wide array of art jobs, party planner, clown and face painter, and A.R.A. for the NJSCBWI, some of which could be fun, none of which could be classified as a passion. The one consistent thread which started as a child first as a love, then an aspiration as a young adult, and eventually becoming a serious pursuit and true passion as an adult, has been children’s literature. With the publication of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! her pursuit  finally became a “job” that incorporated her passion. Her sincerest hope is that these books benefit as many children as possible.

Author Robin Newman Brings on Fall with a Case of Bad Apples.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons—it’s back to school; crisp air and brisk walks in Central Park; and if you’re a fan of apples, as I am, it’s apple picking and baking season!

So, it’s no surprise that my character Porcini Pig is also a big fan of apples.

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In my latest book in the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES, Porcini finds what appears to be a gift basket of apples. Naturally, he pigs out. He is a pig after all. But strangely, he becomes sick as a dog. Fortunately for him an anonymous squealer calls in a SWINE-1-1, and the MFI (Missing Food Investigators) are investigating what looks like a Code 22 (attempted hamslaughter). Who poisoned Porcini and why? Could one bad apple have poisoned the bunch? One bad765 apple indeed.

One especially sweet treat about my latest book is Mollie Katzen’s APPLE-TAS-TIC recipe for apple pockets.

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DE-LI-CIOUS!

My family and I devoured these apple pockets for breakfast and afternoon snack with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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And while you’re snacking on your yummy apple pockets, please be sure to check out the adorable book trailer for THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES!

 

Enjoy and bon appétit!

robin bio

Caring For Baby Birds All Summer Long.

It’s summer!
If you’ve maintained a wild bird backyard habitat throughout winter, you can continue through summer with added benefits. Providing food, water and shelter encourages birds to build a home and raise young when resources are plentiful. Fill a suet feeder with nesting supplies such as yarn threads, strands of hair, and broom bristles. Keep a part of your yard “natural” with a pile of leaves and pine needles, to offer a variety of supplies for birds to choose from. Keep your eyes out the window and take note to which birds make use of your materials.

bird in tree

Many birds will make their nest in close proximity to humans. Robins and mourning doves are known for making nests in shrubs, trees or on wooden ledges under decks. Swallows will build a nest from mud and attach it to the side of the house. Wrens love small bird houses and especially those that can safely swing in the breeze. Be on the lookout for neighborhood cats who like to lunch on unsuspecting baby birds. Snakes can also end the enjoyment of raising baby birds in your yard. I don’t recommend killing snakes as they also provide an important service in the ecosystem, but it’s never a good day, when a snake is found inside a nest box full of black-capped chickadees.     bird 1

In addition to prey, another hazard for baby birds is falling from the nest. If a baby bird found is very small and most likely dead, it has been pushed out by more aggressive siblings or from nest over load. If you find a baby bird that has feathers and can hop but cannot fly, it is most likely a fledgling, just learning to fly. Contrary to popular belief it is OK to pick up and replace the baby to its nest. Or, if it looks like the parents are attentive, leave it alone. If you cannot find the nest, place the bird in a tissue lined box in the same location in which it was found. Watch to see if the parents return to feed. Many do. If after a few hours you can’t be sure the parents are around, your best option is to take the baby to a local wildlife center. The people there will nurture the baby until it can survive on its own and usually return the bird to its original locale.           bird 2

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge is in southern New Jersey and takes in wildlife of all varieties.
6 Sawmill Rd, Medford, NJ 08055
(856) 983-3329
http://www.cedarrun.org

Another note of caution, be careful of tree cutting in the spring and summer. Many nests have been dislocated when unsuspecting tree cutters take down a bird’s summer home.

bird nest

Taking care of our feathered friends can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for young and old alike. Why not invite some birds into your backyard this summer?

Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.

 

GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY – JULY 15, 2020 by Kim Pfennigwerth

July 15th will be here in a blink and so I am posting, once again, on Darlene’s blog to celebrate our annual Give Something Away Day!

This is a day to share things that will lighten our load and perhaps brighten someone else’s day. With everything our country is experiencing because of the pandemic, this is a great time to give something away. What can you give away? How about a phone call, food for someone in quarantine, or books you love.

Along with staying safe in the pandemic, we have also been listening to the important discussion that is raising our collective social conscience with Black Lives Matter.

So, for our giveaway this year, Darlene and I have decided to give away books that support and highlight the talented BIPOC authors and/or illustrators in children’s literature.

I will be giving away two books:

We Are Water Protectors                          woke cover

  • We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goode  – and
  • WOKE: A Young Poet’s Call To Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, with a contribution by Jason Reynolds.

Darlene will give away:

I Am Enough

  • I AM ENOUGH by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo.

To be eligible to win one of the two giveaways, please tell us the titles of books you love that are written and/or illustrated by BIPOC. And remember to share your suggestions on all your social media outlets. Two winners will be chosen at random from those who enter and announced on this blog at a later date.

Finally, I sincerely hope you stay healthy and safe and in the spirit of Give Something Away Day —find something to give away yourself.

Below is a short list of charities that can always use our support:

Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/

The Innocence Project: https://www.innocenceproject.org/

The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

The National Immigration Law Center: https://www.nilc.org/

The Loveland Foundation: https://thelovelandfoundation.org/

The Navaho Water Project: https://www.navajowaterproject.org/

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum: https://www.napawf.org/

Embrace Race: https://www.embracerace.org/

KimNov2016Kim Pfennigwerth enjoys time with her dogs on the beach or going for a paddle in her kayak. She is a lover of books, animals, children, and kindness in no particular order. She is often spotted participating in online workshops or in a bookstore or library reading piles of picture books while writing and revising her own manuscripts. 

 

 

 

 

Free Rice: Increase Your Vocabulary and Feed the Hungry.

There is a wonderful site that I go to now and then to challenge my vocabulary.  It’s called Free Rice.  Not only are there levels of difficulty to help develop vocabulary skills, every time you successfully define words, grains of rice are added to your account.  This number quickly adds up.

Where does this “Rice Money” go?  To those in need.  For each answer you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

We spend so much time on social media and computers.  Why not take a few minutes to help ease hunger while doing it.  Here’s the link to the site:

http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1458

Over 96 billion grains have been donated to date

WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance.  It also makes you feel good.

 

#BOOKWEEK2020atHOME: Make a Book To Keep or Share.

There are many ways to help your kids make simple books to record their poems, sketches, stories, and doodles. Here is a simple one that requires only a sheet of paper or card stock and a scissor.

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Take a standard sheet of paper. Fold in half LENGTHWISE.   2

OPEN. Fold in half WIDTHWISE. Bring each side up to the MIDDLE so you now have EIGHT RECTANGULAR sections.    3

Holding the paper so the LONGEST PART of the rectangles are top to bottom, use scissors to cut a slit through the TWO MIDDLE SECTIONS as shown in the photo above.

FLIP the book upright so it stands as shown in the photo below, with the creased side facing UP and open edge facing DOWN.

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Bring the open edges toward the middle:

6That’s It! You’ve made a small book to use for whatever you like. You can decorate the cover, and use them to send special messages, wishes, hopes, dreams, or whatever catches your fancy.

HINT: If you staple TWO BOOKS  – one inside the other – you will have more pages to use for your story.  HAPPY BOOK MAKING!

For more ideas of how to make simple books, visit: https://www.homeschooling-ideas.com/making-books-with-children.html

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