Books

You Made Me a Mother

by Laurenne Sala
illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Have you seen the You Made Me a Mother video? (If not, find it in the Parents' Corner below!)  Just in time for Mother's Day, HaperCollins has turned this popular poem-turned-video into a beautiful and touching picture book.

You Made Me a Mother by Laurenne Sala and Robin Preiss Glasser - offtheshelfblog.com

While the text will resonate with the moms who read You Made Me a Mother, the illustrations will draw young readers into the story, making it a perfect choice for a cozy read-together. Kids love hearing about when they were babies, and this is a great conversation starter to share special stories with them. They never tire of hearing even the same stories over and over again, and they will giggle at the antics of their younger self!

 You Made Me a Mother is a great gift to give to a special mother you know, or to even give yourself, to celebrate the unique relationship of mother and child. 

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Julia's House for Lost Creatures

by Ben Hatke

"Julia's house came to town and settled by the sea. Things are just a little too quiet for Julia, so she opens her doors to any lost creatures in search of ah ome. Soon she's hosting troops, goblins, mermaids, ghosts, and even dragons. Quiet isn't exactly a problem any more."

'Judicious placement of the spare text and enlarged, attention-getting onomatopoetic words like “whoosh,” “scratch scratch,” “boom” and “creak” add drama, while fanciful pen, ink and watercolor illustrations create a whimsical world of cartoonlike creatures. Julia’s all practicality in her kerchief, apron and pink high-top sneakers, while her ramshackle house atop the giant tortoise is the picture of cozy comfort until the invading troll, dragon, mermaid and companions trigger a rumpus reminiscent of Sendak’s Wild Things.' –Kirkus Reviews

Julia's House for Lost Creatures is a magical story and readers of all ages will want to step right in and be a part of the story!  

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More Than Enough: A Passover Story

by April Halprin Wayland
illustrated by Katie Kath

We were delighted to receive a copy of More Than Enough: A Passover Story for review, and from the first reading we were struck by the joyfulness of the story. We firmly believe any picture book can be a starting point for young readers to make new discoveries, but even adults can learn something new in this story. More Than Enough is presented in a way that readers who are not familiar with the traditions of Passover will gain an understanding of this spring holiday. 

"Deriving its name from the Passover seder song Dayenu which means, 'it would have been enough,' a Jewish family prepares their Passover seder, giving thanks for their everyday blessings. First the family visits the famers market for walnuts, lilacs, and honey (adopting a kitten along the way!). Than at Nana's house the children complete a treasure hunt of holiday traditions: chopping apples for charoset, opening the door for Elijah singing the verses of 'Chad Gadya,' and searching from the hidden afikomen. All the while, Dayenu remains the thankful refrain."

"The infectious, child-appealing watercolor artwork–with that adorable kitten!–will make readers smile. And once they understand the meaning of dayenu, they'll get into the spirit of gratitude as well." –Booklist

"Chopping apples for charoset – Dayenu.
Dashing though puddles on the way to Nan's house – Dayenu.
A delicious seder meal for the whole family to enjoy – Dayenu."

 

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The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits

by Douglas Florian
Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits is one of our absolute favorite new books of the year. Reading this book, you'll discover that rabbits have wonderful habits we humans never knew about, from finding buried treasure to playing recorders and having dance parties, to enjoying nightly bedtime stories!

While this is the perfect book for spring, and works as an Easter book, it works just as well any time of year, with references to rabbits' habits in each of the seasons. Bouncy rhyme and engagingly detailed illustrations that bring out the humor in the text make this glorious picture book simply a joy to read. 

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Rudy's New Human

by Roxanna Elden
illustrated by Ginger Seehafer

 

When we started Off the Shelf, we knew we wanted our logo to have the feel of classic Winnie the Pooh illustrations as well as communicate our mission of bringing books alive. Illustrator Ginger Seehafer perfectly captured our vision in our logo, complete with our very own teddy bear! So, it is with great pleasure that we present a book illustrated by Ginger, Rudy's New Human.

Lovable pup Rudy's world is turned upside down with the arrival of a new baby in the household. Peace, calm, and routine have vanished and Rudy is not sure how to handle these changes. Will his life ever be the same? 

 The illustrations really let the reader feel Rudy experiences, from his excited anticipation at the arrival of a new friend, to his disappointment that the baby is not what he expected, to the eventual friendship that develops. Rudy is sure to find a special place in your heart!

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The Lion and the Mouse

by Jerry Pinkney

Come along on a journey to eastern Africa, where elephants roam and zebras graze in the Serengeti. This is the breathtaking setting of Jerry Pinkney's wordless telling of The Lion & the Mouse, Aesop's tale that celebrates kindness and courage. 

Is your young reader rambunctious and confident like a lion, or more quiet and unassuming like a mouse?  The beauty of Aesop's classic tale The Lion & the Mouse is that neither of these personalities is more admirable than the other, for both are celebrated in their own way. 

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Winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal, The Lion & the Mouse is exquisitely illustrated in watercolors that enhance the underlying gentleness of the story.  The only words are the occasional onomatopoeia of wildlife sounds as well as the putt putt of the hunters' truck. This is a book to savor and linger over and cherish. Enjoy! 

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Annie and the Wild Animals

by Jan Brett

For four of the five years of Off the Shelf's existence, we have featured a Jan Brett book in at least one of the winter months. This pattern was completely unintentional, but makes sense with the snowy, usually Scandinavian settings of her stories. So, you can tell it's winter as we bring you another treasure, Annie and the Wild Animals

Annie is feeling restless after a long winter. Her loneliness is made worse when her cat Taffy disappears, seemingly for good. In hopes of finding a new friendly pet, Annie bakes corn cakes and places them on the edge of the forest. Come along on a snowy, end of winter adventure to find out if Annie's corn cake plan succeeds! Full of Jan Brett's signature illustrations, Annie and the Wild Animals is a delightful story for young readers to enjoy on long winter days (or any time of the year). 

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Ellie

by Mike Wu

What's an elephant to do when her zoo is in trouble? Each of her friends has a special talent that they use to help their beloved zoo from closing down. Ellie has lots of enthusiasm but struggles to discover her helpful gift, until one day she discovers a paintbrush...

Ellie is an endearing picture book by Mike Wu, a Pixar animator who has worked on The Incredibles and  Toy Story 3, among others, and who definitely knows the way to capture the imagination of young readers. Ellie shows us that we all have special gifts, and that we can all make a difference, no matter what those gifts are. 

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Black Dog

by Levi Pinfold

We often hear you have nothing to fear but fear itself, but sometimes (quite often, in fact), that fear takes on a mind of its own and plays tricks on us. This phenomenon is explored in Levi Pinfold's charming picture book, Black Dog.
One day, a large black dog arrives outside the Hope family's home.  As each family member reports their sighting of the dog, the unexpected visitor grows with gargantuan proportions. It takes the smallest member of the family, named Small of course, to show the true nature of the beast. 
Childhood quite often is a time of fears, whether of storms, the dark, or even dogs. But young readers will enjoy the fact that Small is the hero, the one member of the family who shows no fear and keeps things in perspective. Whatever your young readers fears are, sharing this book together just may help to shrink the size of the monsters under the bed. 

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Humbug Witch

by Lorna Balian

 Humbug Witch is the story of a witch and her cat Fred. She looks like a witch should, and acts like a witch should, but her spells and potions just won't work! Can you guess why? Read the story to discover the reason she struggles with her witching duties.

Sometimes things aren't what always what they seem, and many things at Halloween that may initially seems scary are just make-believe and all in fun. Lorna Balian's expressive use of text and illustrations add to the mystery and delight of this not-so-scary and oh-so-enjoyable Halloween book. This story will tickle the funny bones of trick or treaters of all ages!

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Costume Collage

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As young readers discover as they finish Humbug Witch, the little girl is no witch at all; it is simply a fun Halloween costume. Invite young readers to see themselves transformed with a magical costume of their own design but using scraps of this and that to create a fun costume collage. 

Does your young reader have trouble deciding on only one Halloween costume? This is the perfect activity to let young imaginations run wild with possibilities, and actually see their ideas come to life. Just like you believe the little girl is a real witch, young readers will actually see themselves transformed into what they have only imagined. 

While this is a perfect activity for October, young readers can use their imaginations to transform themselves any time of year. 

Costume Collage

Supplies

  • Full body image of your young reader printed on card stock
  • Catalogus or magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Construction paper
  • Stickers
  • Markers
  1. Take a picture of your young reader if necessary and print out on an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of cardstock, so the image is large enough for your young reader to add costume details. 
  2. What costume will your young reader create? Invite your young reader to go through catalogs and magazines, cutting out images of clothing or textures to create the costume.  You can also use construction paper to create the whole costume or certain elements. 
  3. Glue the pieces to the photo to construct the costume. Add stickers and other Halloween elements with markers. 

You may also enjoy: Imagine If Portraits, Magnificent Hats! Mural

 

Watch and Enjoy

We love this short Disney cartoon featuring Witch Hazel, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and Donald Duck. Trick or treat!

 

Magic Potion Stew

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Just like the little witch's magic potion, you can dump "all the very best things" in your "very best kettle" and make a batch of Magic Potion Stew. 

Magic Potion Stew

Adapted from Black Bean 'n' Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup witches teeth (about 1 onion, chopped)
  • 1 cup dragon scales (about 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can swamp sludge (diced tomatoes in tomato juice)
  • 1 15 ounce can jack-o'-lantern stew starter (pumpkin)
  • 2 cups spider eggs (beans, white, black, or garbanzo)
  • 3 cups dried bats (bow tie pasta)
  • 4 cup swamp water (tomato juice)
  • Magic spices
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Spiderwebs for topping (shredded mozzarella cheese)
  1. In your "very best kettle," heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir for 30 seconds. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except the mozzarella) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the pasta is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Towards the end, the stew will bubble and splatter, so be careful!
  3. Serve topped with spiderwebs!

 

You May Also Enjoy: Pumpkin-Peanut Butter SoupButton Soup

To go with your Magic Potion Stew: Snackin' BonesA Batty Good Snack, and Magic Wish Cookies

 

Explore our Not-so-Scary Halloween Pinterest Board for more festive ideas!

  

More from Off the Shelf

One Year Ago: Rattlebone Rock

Two Years Ago: Wobble the Witch Cat

Three Years Ago: Moonlight: The Halloween Cat

Four Years Ago:  Big Pumpkin

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