A Pair of Red Clogs

by Masako Matsuno
illustrated by Kazue Mizumura 

Originally published in 1960, A Pair of Red Clogs is the story of a young Japanese girl and her beautiful new red clogs. After the clogs crack in a game of the weather telling game, the girl is very sad. Can she think of a way to get a new pair of clogs?

This charming book is unique in that it is told in first-person, drawing the reading into the life and culture of Mako and her family. Although the cultures make be very different, young readers will easily make a personal connection based on the shared experiences and emotions of childhood.  And even though some of the illustrated scenes may seem unfamiliar at first, they will quickly recognize the parallels to their own lives and the daily routines of family life. After all, what is more universal than the happiness of a new pair of shoes?

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The Story About Ping

By Marjorie Flack
illustrated by Kurt Wiese

Originally published in 1933, The Story About Ping is one of the most beloved picture books ever published. Written by Marjorie Flack and illustrated by Kurt Wiese, the two created an endearing book that has maintained its popularity for over 80 years and continues to be included on recommended lists of classic picture books and "best" picture books. Always intrigued by the history of how books came to be, the decision to feature Ping came after learning Flack became fascinated with Pekin ducks while doing research for her book Angus and The Ducks. The ducks really do originate from China, are highly intelligent, and were known to live on houseboats with their master.

While Flack had the inspiration to create Ping and his adventure, she had no knowledge of life in China and so formed the collaboration with Wiese who had lived in China for several years and was able to create vivid images to communicate the exotic feel of life in a strange land for its original young readers.

The Story About PIng tells the story of a plucky little duck who lives on a houseboat on the Yangtze River. Ping's adventures begin one evening when he doesn't make it on to the boat in time and has to strike out on his own without the security of his large family. Young readers will share the excitement and eventual relief with Ping as he navigates his way back to the security of his home and family.

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 You Might Also Enjoy: Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep and Make Way for Ducklings

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The Little Engine That Could

by Watty Piper

illustrated by George and Doris Hauman

Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Can The Little Engine That Could make it to the top of the mountain? Rediscover this classic from 1930, with a message that is still relevant today. 

This story has been a part of our culture for over 80 years and has inspired many generations with its obvious theme of self-confidence. Whether we are encouraging kids to be better readers, writers, athletes, or lego builders, helping them to develop self confidence through encouragement and praise of their efforts is one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent or teacher. So enjoy this week's story and activities with the little engine and a classic that has inspired for over 80 years. 

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Old Black Witch

Dear Friends,

There are certain books that just stay with you forever. For us, Old Black Witch is one of those books. Old Black Witch is so embedded in our family's Halloween traditions that Nicky, his mother, and Old Black Witch herself seem like members of the family that come visiting every year. While not specifically a Halloween book, it was always packed away with the Halloween decorations, so bringing it out at the beginning of October was a much anticipated occasion. 

You might know Wende and Harry Devlin from the Cranberry books, including Cranberry Thanksgiving and Cranberry Valentine. This husband and wife team's books are charming and comforting; although considered vintage books, they have a modern feel that appeals to longtime fans as well as young readers discovering them for the first time. 

Happy Halloween to you and your young readers!


Old Black Witch

By Wende and Harry Devlin

Illustrated by Harry Devlin 

“Bats! Crickets! And snakes’ knees!” That endearing phrase is only one of many the unlikely heroine of Old Black Witch mutters throughout the timeless Halloween classic. Originally published in 1963, Old Black Witch! is the story of how Nicky and his other buy the perfect old house to turn into the Jug and Muffin Tea Room and then discover the house comes with a tiny resident witch who enjoys zooming around on her dilapidated broom and causing all sorts of mischief. Entertaining and fun to read, Old Black Witch is more charming than spooky but has just enough spine tingling antics to make it lots of Halloween fun.

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A Tree is Nice

Dear Friends,

Trees are the perfect childhood friends. How many summer days are spent playing in the shade of a tree? Or fall afternoons spent tramping in the the fallen leaves? In imaginative play, tree can be almost anything, from houses to spaceships, as well as base in a game of tag or the perfect place to climb. Although we sometimes take them for granted, this week's book helps us to take a few quiet moments to celebrate the many gifts that trees give us!

A Tree is Nice

by Janice May Udry
illustrated by Marc Simont

Winner of the 1957 Caldecott Medal, A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry is a timeless classic that has a feel that is both vintage and contemporary at the same time. Gently proclaiming a deep appreciation of the beauty and virtues of trees, the text is simple yet expressive and has a calming rhythm that entices readers in for factual reasons to love trees.

Gorgeous illustrations by Mr. Simont are perfectly matched to the poetic text, alternating between soft, lush watercolors and black and white illustrations that are quiet but never stark and cold. Simplistic but never dull, A Tree Is Nice compels readers to go for a walk and take the time to notice and appreciate the beauty of the trees that surrounds us.

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Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Bark rubbings and leaf rubbings are autumn activities that never get old. No matter the age of the artist, making these fall favorites seems to usher in the season of crisp weather, shorter days, and the excitement of the quickly approaching Halloween season. We decided to expand on the basic rubbings in order to further engage in the spirit of our book of the week. So get out the paper, crayons and scissors and get ready to create a little autumn magic.

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree
Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree from Off the Shelf

Why We Like It

  • Fun activity for developing observational skills by discussing the size, shape, texture, and colors of the leaves.
  • Great way to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and make some fun art.

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

What You Will Need

  • White paper
  • Crayons – wrappers removed
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Leaves – fresh are best
  • A tree

How To Do It

  1. Hold a sheet of paper on the trunk of a tree and, using the side of a crayon, gently rub the crayon over the entire sheet of paper to get a bark rubbing.
  2. Collect several autumn leaves. Place 1 leaf on a flat surface, textured side up, and lay another sheet of white paper on top of the leaf. Using the flat side of a crayon, gently but firmly rub across the leaf to make the image of the leaf appear. Repeat until you have several leaf rubbings.
  3. Cut a vertical section of paper from the bark rubbing to use as your tree trunk. Cut the remaining bark rubbing into strips to use as tree branches.
  4. Cut out the leaf rubbings individually.
  5. Glue the branches to the trunk and attach leaves.
  6. Lay flat to dry.


Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix

With dried cranberries and golden raisins in the colors of fall leaves, pretzels sticks reminding us of the shape and crunch of twigs, and flavored with two delicious gifts from trees, this is the perfect snack to enjoy on a beautiful autumn day while sitting under your favorite tree. 

Snack mixes are perfect for kids because they are portable, not messy, and easily customizable to picky eaters!

Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix from Off the Shelf

Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix

Granola adapted from Pumpkin Granola.

Makes roughly 2 cups.


  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (see video below)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup pretzel sticks, broken in half


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix together oats, applesauce, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon until well combined. 
  2. Spread mixture on an oiled or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  3. Let granola cool before scooping into a medium bowl, breaking up any large chunks. 
  4. Add cranberries, raisins, and broken pretzel sticks to granola. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Curious where cinnamon comes from? 


by Eve Titus
illustrated by Paul Galdone

Anatole is an honorable little mouse with a great deal of character, so he is crushed when he discovers that the humans think he and all other mice are a disgrace to France. It troubles him to be thought of in such a negative manner, and he devises an ingenious plan to earn his crumbs and scraps and renew his sense of dignity.

Young readers will delight in this fun adventure story with a timeless message of self-reliance, working hard, and using your talents. The charming and classic illustrations by Paul Galdone showing the life of a French mouse are done in charcoal, pen, and ink. The mainly black and gray pages are highlighted with red and blue of the French flag and have a true 1950’s vintage feel! Originally published in 1956, this Caldecott Honor Book continues to be a favorite for readers just discovering its charm, and to those rediscovering it from an earlier time.

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Blueberries for Sal

by Robert McCloskey

Beloved author Robert McCloskey wrote and illustrated Blueberries for Sal, a gentle adventure story that won the Caldecott Honor Book award in 1949. From the minute you open the cover you will feel yourself relax and be drawn into the world of Little Sal and Little Bear.

The beautiful two-page introductory illustration of Sal and her mother canning blueberries sets the tone for this sweet book filled with just enough suspense that young readers will be holding their breath in anticipation. The gentle humor of two mothers' mix-up will appeal to kids’ sense of humor and the detailed blue-black illustrations allow readers to feel they too are on Blueberry Hill on a beautiful, sunny day. A true classic every book lover will treasure for years to come.


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Miss Suzy

by Miriam Young
Illustrated by Arnold Lobel 


Miss Suzy is the perfect book for cozy read-together time. Our heroine is a gentle gray squirrel who lives “in the tip, tip, top of a tall oak tree,” until a bunch of hoodlum red squirrels chase her from her lovely home. Miss Suzy soldiers on and finds a new home and new friends, but she still longs for her beloved treetop house. Enjoy this gentle, old-fashioned tale with your young reader and discover why it has been capturing the hearts and minds of boys and girls for forty years.  

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