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."


In this Issue

Continue reading "More Than Enough: A Passover Story" »

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. 

In this Issue

Continue reading "The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits" »

Rechenka's Eggs

By Patricia Polacco

I was utterly captivated by Rechenka's Eggs from the very first page. The old world feel, the beautiful mystery of the friendship between Babushka and Rechenka, not to mention the exquisite illustrations of the decorated Easter eggs, all combine to make this one of my favorite books. Young readers are sure to love the thought of sharing breakfast with a goose, the wonder of the onion domes of the architecture, and the joy of a new friend who stays with Babushka forever. While the story takes place around Easter, it is such a beautiful tale of friendship that it would be lovely to read any time of the year. 

You Might Also Enjoy: The Easter Egg by Jan Brett

In this Issue

Continue reading "Rechenka's Eggs" »

Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka

By Tomie dePaola

While our own Irish roots are still being researched by the family genealogist, that has not diminished our enthusiasm in the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. We fill the house with the lyrical sounds of Irish music, the smells of soda bread, colcannon, and a new favorite this year, Irish grilled cheese (made with soda bread, Kerrygold Irish butter, and the yummy Kerrygold Irish cheese). We also enjoy reading an abundance of Irish folktales, then to cap off our celebration we have an annual viewing of the The Quiet Man (while this would not appeal to kids, you can't beat John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara!). All in all, a very fine celebration indeed.

To help inspire your own day of Irish celebration, we are featuring Tomie dePaola's Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka. In a whimsical folktale, based on Irish lore, the work-challenged Jamie O'Rourke learns a lesson from the mysterious pooka about the merits of hard work. Adding to the charm and imaginative appeal is learning that a pooka does not have a certain definitive form but can be any animal spirit. What fun to let the fun and whimsy of St. Patrick's Day inspire young readers to create a pooka of their own after enjoying this amusing book. 

In this Issue

Continue reading "Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka" »

The Carrot Seed

by Ruth Krauss

illustrated by Crockett Johnson

Dear Friends,

Although The Carrot Seed was originally published in 1945, the allure of playing in the dirt is still the same for kids today as it was then. The fascination of growing things, of exploring leaves and sticks, discovering what's under a rock, and the timeless attraction to mud sparks the imagination in a way not possible in indoor play.

I have such vivid memories of outdoor imaginative play, whether it was creating fairy salads from a variety of weeds or a muddy witch's brew in a large flower  pot, or like the hero of The Carrot Seed, waiting and watching for the first green sprout  of a seed. What are your outdoor memories? 


In This Issue


 Underground Carrots Prints


This fun art activity is part stamping and part science exploration that helps young readers understand what's going on underground while they watch the green stems above ground.

Underground Carrot Prints


  • 1 large carrot, cut in half lengthwise
  • Large sheet of paper
  • Orange and green paint
  • Crayons or markers
  1. Using a large paintbrush, paint the flat side of one half of the carrot with orange paint. 
  2. Place flat side of carrot on paper to make a carrot stamp. Repeat to make a row of carrots. 
  3. Using finger, paint green tops on each carrot. Let paint dry. 
  4. With a brown crayon or marker, draw a line to show what grows above the ground and what grows below the ground. Add any other creative details like clouds, a sun, or birds.


Here's a glimpse of carrots growing in my garden last year, and when they were just picked, ready to be rinsed: 

carrots - Off the Shelf

carrots - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf
Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes

Adapted from Ziggity Zoom's carrot croquettes recipe. Makes 4. 


  • 11 ounces carrots, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, plus more for coating croquettes
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • parsley or lettuce, for carrots tops
  1. Steam or boil carrots until tender; drain.
  2. Roughly mash carrots. They do not have to be silky smooth, just mashed enough so that no large chunks remain. A fun was to do this (especially for kids) is to place about 1/2 cup cooked carrots at a time on a cutting board and press with the back of a fork. 
  3. Place mashed carrots in a medium mixing bowl. Add egg white, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, salt, cinnamon, cumin, and garlic powder and stir until well combined. 
  4. Place additional breadcrumbs on a plate. Form carrot mixture into 4 carrot-shaped croquettes. Roll in breadcrumbs. 
  5. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place croquettes in skillet and cook about 6 minutes, rotating a quarter turn every 90 seconds or until lightly golden brown.
  6. Place some parsley or a piece of lettuce in the top of each croquette and serve!

A Basketful of Easter Activities

Dear friends, 

Happy spring and happy Easter! Peter Cottontail will be coming down the bunny trail in a just a few days so we thought we would round up our Easter activities in an easy guide. Celebrate Easter with some of these recipes or crafts, and enjoy the holiday with your family and young readers!

Dyeing eggs and watching the Easter Beagle are yearly traditions in our house. How do you celebrate Easter? Does your young reader have a favorite Easter book or activity? 

Easter Books

An Egg is Quiet

An Egg is Quiet is a magical, enchanting picture book that celebrates eggs of all kinds and the important role they have in our world. From tiny to giant, slimy to fossilized, readers are introduced to more than 60 types of eggs from a variety of creatures that swim in the sea, fly in the sky, or live on the land. Try the What's Under the Shell? science experiment, play in the mud with Build Your Own Bird's Nest, and make  delicious Eggs in a Nest Bread- perfect for your Easter feast. 

The Easter Egg

The Easter Egg is everything you could want from an Easter book. The story itself is engaging, heartwarming, and subtly teaches lessons about doing your best and not getting discouraged when faced with a challenge, made even better by the incomparable illustrations of Jan Brett. Check out two activities that help you use up your dyed eggs:  Deviled Egg Dip and Easter Eggshell Mosaics.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is probably the number one classic children's book. Although not an Easter book, the rabbit and garden theme makes it a popular choice for this time of year. Included is a recipe for healthy (and whole wheat) Coco Carrot Snack Cake, as well as Carrot and Parsley Salad, while aactivities include Peter Rabbit Book Play and Carrot Rabbit Stamps. Also check out The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson!


More Recipes and Activities for Easter

Follow Off the Shelf's board Spring and Easter on Pinterest.

My Garden

by Kevin Henkes

A garden that doesn’t grow weeds but instead has jelly bean bushes, chocolate rabbits, tomatoes as big as beach balls, and never-ending flowers are just a few of the wonders of our little gardener in Kevin Henkes beautiful, imaginative My Garden. Illustrated with ink and watercolor illustrations in a sunny, pastel palette, this is a book that naturally inspires imaginations to meander beyond the restraints of our everyday world and envision a garden bursting with enviable wonders.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Each page invites readers in to see the unique details of the little girl’s garden but also manages to simultaneously inspire readers to imagine their own unique garden and the special things they would grow. A true Kevin Henkes classic that will hold a special spot on (and off!) the bookshelf for years to come.


My Garden activities coming up this week:

  • Young readers can imagine what they would grow in Their Garden with the My Garden Mural.
  • One "crop" featured in the book is seashells. Harvest your own shells to make Garden Shell Pasta Bake.

One Year Ago: We're Going on a Bear Hunt

More Kevin Henkes: Lily's Purple Plastic Purse


More garden books:

Growing Vegetable Soup

The Curious Garden

The Gardener

Does your young reader have a favorite book about gardening?

An Egg is Quiet

by Diana Hutts Aston
illustrated by Sylvia Long

An Egg Is Quiet is a magical, enchanting picture book that celebrates eggs of all kinds and the important role they have in our world. From tiny to giant, slimy to fossilized, readers are introduced to more than 60 types of eggs from a variety of creatures that swim in the sea, fly in the sky, or live on the land.

The text is poetic and lyrical and the ink and watercolor illustrations are detailed and stunning. The combination of the two captivates the attention and imagination of readers and encourage young naturalist to appreciate the beauty of the world around them.  

An intriguing book for readers of all ages, it can be read as a cozy, quiet read-aloud by focusing on the main text. For more in-depth learning, spend time reading the captions and supporting text on each page. Either way, this is a book that will be enjoyed often and on many levels for years to come!

In This Issue

Continue reading "An Egg is Quiet" »

And Then It's Spring

By Julie Fogliano

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

This is a simple story, with quiet, poetic text that reflects the feeling most of us have this time of year as we anxiously wait for the brown of late winter to turn to the green of early spring. And Then It's Spring is a story of hoping and waiting, of late winter doldrums and relief at the arrival of spring, and of the worrying, waiting and excitement that go into the process of growing a garden.

A young boy and his most endearing animal companions dig and plant, and then begin the tedious process of waiting for those first signs of green to sprout. The delicate illustrations are the perfect complement to the spare text as the pages take us through the days of waiting and how those days are filled. The beauty in this book is in the details; humorous details that will captivate readers and make this a must-read-again-many-times in order to catch them all.

Caldecott Medal award winner Erin Stead used block print and pencil technique to illustrate this charming book and has captured the sense of spring’s arrival with just the right touch. If you too have had enough of winter brown all around, spend some time with and then it’s spring and feel your winter thaw begin to melt.

In this Issue

Continue reading "And Then It's Spring" »

The Easter Egg

by Jan Brett


The Easter Egg is everything you could want from an Easter book. The story itself is engaging, heartwarming, and subtly teaches lessons about doing your best and not getting discouraged when faced with a challenge. Young readers are sure to identify with Hoppi’s desire to create a winning egg and his feelings of intimidation of the other rabbits and their experience with the contest.

Jan Brett never talks down to young readers and fills the story with wonderful words like dazzling, amazing and magnificent. Hearing words that draw such vivid images throughout the text expands young vocabularies and sets the stage for descriptive writing skills.

In addition to the story, readers will be entranced by the intricately drawn illustrations that draw you further into the story through exquisite details and offer added insight into the activities of life in the forest.  Each page is so full of lush detailed drawings that you will want open it again and again to discover a new surprise you had missed on all of your other previous readings. Be sure to notice what happens to the pussy willow blooms at the end of the book!


This week's The Easter Egg activities: