Flora's Very Windy Day

by Jeanne Birdsall
illustrated by Matt Phelan

Oh, the joys of having a little brother! In Flora's Very Windy Day the first picture book from The Penderwicks author Jeanne Birdsall, Flora has just about had enough of being a big sister after Crispin spills her paints. When the pair are sent outside, the wind might present the perfect opportunity to blow Crispin away, until the last moment when Flora joins him on a rather windy adventure. Kids will love following Flora and Crispin as the wind blows them on a high-flying adventure where they meet a dragonfly, an eagle, a friendly rainbow, the man in the moon and more before the wind agree to help them. Will Flora blow back home without Crispin, or maybe just realize how important big sisters are for their little brothers?


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My Leaf Book

by Monica Wellington

My Leaf Book is the story of a young leaf collector who visits an arboretum ablaze with rich autumn colors. As she travels through the arboretum she discovers how different each tree's leaves are. From ginkgo to sassafras, oak to poplar, she learns that leaves come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and each has special and unique markings that help identify them. Plus, there are so many things to do with the leaves, especially make a Leaf Book!

Has your young reader ever picked up a beautiful or striking leaf and wondered what kind of tree is came from? Reading My Leaf Book will help young readers identify leaves and trees through its vibrant collaged illustrations. Not only is this a fun story about the little girl's autumn adventure, but scattered throughout the pages are fun facts to help young readers become tree experts. Don't be surprised if your next neighborhood walk turns into a leaf identification expedition!

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by Lori Nichols


Maple is a book about the friendship between two maples, Maple the girl and her maple tree. Throughout the seasons Maple and her tree entertain each other with snowballs, games of make-believe, and quiet times of simply enjoying each other's company . Maple sees the joy and happiness that comes from a good friendship. Caring for her tree prepares her for the important job of being a big sister and, like any good sister, she shares her special friend with the new baby.

In day to day life it is easy to pass tress without really seeing them. But without being sappy (ha ha), Maple reminds us to pause and appreciate the friendship that trees offer. 

The pages of Lori Nicols's book are brought to life with whimsical, child-friendly illustrations that perfectly capture the simple happiness of childhood. Especially vivid are the maple tree's leaves that seem to glow and dance above Maple's play. The tree is just as much a character as Maple is, and will inspire young readers to find a tree friend of their own!  

In this Issue

Also in this issue, Walter the Art Cat makes an appearance! Can you find him?

Maple Collage

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Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

by Chief Jake Swamp
illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr. 

While Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message is a beautiful book to read any time of year (and, indeed, thanks should be given every day and not only on one holiday), we thought this was a wonderful time to focus on a book that celebrates Native American culture. Full of rich and lyrical language and illustrations that live in harmony with the story, this book is a celebration of the beauty of our world and the life it gives us. 

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Rattlebone Rock

by Sylvia Andrews
illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

From skeletons to witches, Rattlebone Rock is filled with all the familiar Halloween faces that we are used to seeing, and they are all joining together with the local townsfolk to have the biggest and best Halloween party ever! No scary stuff here, just a lot of rythmn, rhyme, and Halloween fun. This story is excellent for reading out loud and encouraging young readers to participate with sound effects and creative movement. Although this book is technically out of print, copies of Rattlebone Rock are available on Amazon and seem to be readily available at libraries. Get ready for lots of giggles and wiggles!

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The Vanishing Pumpkin

by Tony Johnston
illustrated by Tomie dePaola

The Vanishing Pumpkin is cumulative story filled with interesting Halloween characters who all have a taste for pumpkin, if they could only discover where it went! Not at all scary, but full of Halloween magic and Tomie dePaola's folksy illustrations, this is a book the ghosts and goblins of all ages will enjoy for Halloweens to come. 

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How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

by Marjorie Priceman

Take a fun filled romp around the world and see apple pie in a whole new way. When the market is closed, the young heroine go directly to the sources for the necessary ingredients, be it England, France, or Sri Lanka, and still makes it home in time to make her pie. Apple pie may be the typical American dessert, but this book shows us that it's flavors of the world that make it so delicious. This is the tastiest geography lesson we've ever come across!

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How Rocket Learned to Read

by Tad Hills

Hello everyone! This week we are bringing you a perfectly lovely book called How Rocket Learned to Read. Although it came out in 2010 (and there are already several more Rocket books, namely Rocket Writes a Story and Rocket's Mighty Words) we just got it from the library a few weeks ago and I was smitten with Rocket and his little yellow bird teacher within the first few pages. If you have not been introduced to Rocket yet, he is a curious, playful and bright pup who one day meets a little yellow bird who knows just the right way to share her enthusiasm for reading.

How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf

I thought we might save the book to feature in the autumn as that is the season in which the story begins, but as soon as I came to the page where Rocket spells MUD in the springtime mud I knew we had a winner... mud is a big part of our lives right now with four dogs and a Pig-Pen of a horse, so it seems especially fitting. 

How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf

I first heard of author/illustrator Tad Hills through this 2013 tour of his Brooklyn studio kitchen table, the link to which my dad sent me knowing my dream of becoming an illustrator. Also included in the link is the studio of Betsy Lewin, illustrator of Click Clack Moo!  It is one thing to see the finished product but actually seeing where and how these artists work makes me want to get out my paints and get creating!

How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf

One last note before we come to the activities: here's a detail that I missed on the first read but made me giggle when I caught it on the second go around: The title page is Rocket, just about the most adorable illustrated dog ever, holding his own copy of How Rocket Learned to Read. I love details like this, just like the copies of Rainbow Fish and Make Way for Ducklings on the shelves in Miss Bindergarten's classroom. 

How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf


In this Issue


Mud Play Dough 

Indoor Mud Coffee Playdough - How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf

In addition to simply playing with the playdough, it's fun to roll pieces into snakes and practice forming letters. You can also roll the dough out flat and smooth and use an un-sharpened pencil or chopstick to write or draw the way Rocket did in the mud!

Indoor Mud

What You Will Need

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup used coffee grounds
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  1. Mix together the flour, salt, coffee grounds, and cream of tartar. 
  2. Stir in water and oil. 
  3. Place "mud" on a work surface and knead until smooth. 


Alphabet Pancakes

This recipe allows for letter practice in the kitchen. We used a very basic pancake recipe but added a bit of cinnamon; you can use almost any pancake recipe you like that isn't too runny.  

Alphabet Pancakes - How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf

I had originally planned to use half all-purpose four and half white whole wheat, but when I went to make these I discovered that I was completely out of all-purpose. I could not tell at all, so feel free to use only white whole wheat flour. 

Alphabet Pancakes - How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf

Alphabet Pancakes - How Rocket Learned to Read - Off the Shelf

Young Readers in the Kitchen

Kids can help measure and mix ingredients. Depending on the skills of your young reader, it might be difficult for them to form the letters with the batter, but they will be so excited to see the pancakes cook up that watching will be just as fun. 

Alphabet Pancakes


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cups flour (see note above)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Nonstick cooking spray or extra butter, for griddle or skillet


  • Zip top bag
  • Scissors
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and melted butter until frothy. 
  2. Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Add wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes so that it can thicken up. 
  3. Once thickened, place a small amount of batter in a zip-top bag. Close the bag (or use a twist-tie) so that batter doesn't come out the top as little hands are piping pancakes. It is easier to manage if only a small amount of batter is placed in the bag at a times, maybe 3/4 cup. Then cut one corner of bag. 
  4. Grease and heat skillet or griddle over medium heat. Once heated, pipe batter into letters. Try to keep letters within a 4 to 5 inch diameter- any bigger and they can be hard to flip without breaking or folding. 
  5. Cook until bubbles appear on the top and edges look dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook another minute or two. 
Serve with butter and syrup, or any of the following fun recipes: 
Berry SmearCherry Almond ButterFruited HoneyHomemade ButterHomemade Strawberry Jam


 One Year Ago: Otto the Book Bear lives in a book, but has special secret adventures that happen when no one is looking: he walks right off the pages of his book and goes exploring!

Two Years Ago: The Very Hungry Caterpillar is such a classic that it need no introduction! Check out our activities: Caterpillar Counting Fruit Salad,  How and What Does a Butterfly Eat?  Caterpillar Fruit Stamps, plus butterfly book play.

A Cornucopia of Thanksgiving Fun

Dear Friends, 

We know that these days leading up to Thanksgiving can be busy, so this week we are doing something a little different. In this issue you will find a round up of our Thanksgiving books, plus additional crafts and recipes that easily apply to the holiday. Whether you are seeking some quiet time with your young reader or looking for ways to keep a houseful of little hands busy, you are sure to find something in this collection to pique the interest of readers both young and old. 

Best wishes for a week of eating, reading, and laughter. Happy Thanksgiving from Off the Shelf!


Thanksgiving Books

It's Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving - Off the Shelf

It's Thanksgiving is a collection of 12 funny poems by Jack Prelutsky, and illustrated by Marilyn Hafner, about everything including the gathering of family, the favorite childhood crafts to make, watching the parade, the delicious food, and the history of the day itself. Check out our recipe for Thanksgiving Stuffing Loaf, and make a Stuffed Turkey craft. 


Bear Says Thanks

Bear Says Thanks - Off the Shelf

From the popular Bear series by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, Bear Says Thanks is the perfect Thanksgiving installment that celebrates friendship and sharing one's unique talents. Check out our recipes for Wheat Muffins and Warm Honey Nuts, plus a fun creative movement prompt!


A Turkey for Thanksgiving

A Turkey for Thanksgiving - Off the Shelf

By Eve Bunting and illustrated by Diane deGroat, A Turkey for Thanksgiving puts a twist on the usual centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table. Young readers will love this clever story, as well as making Tie-Dye Turkeys and an edible Turkey Puzzle!


More Recipes


More Activities

A collection of activities that embody the spirit of the day:

It's Thanksgiving

Dear Friends,

 Thanksgiving is almost here, and we can feel the excitement building! There is an air of bustling busyness as we prepare for a day that celebrates food, family, and fun, and there's also the anticipation of the festivities that December brings. 

Jack Prelutsky has summed up all feelings that go with this holiday, from the very first Thanksgiving to dreading the turkey leftovers. If you thoroughly enjoy It's Thanksgiving (and we are sure you will), this amazing children's poet has also written It's Halloween, It's Christmas!, and It's Valentine's Day. Despite being labeled as a leveled reader, these books are appropriate for ages 3 to 93. We highly recommend them all!

It's Thanksgiving

by Jack Prelutsky

illustrated by Marilyn Hafner

No matter what you enjoy most about Thanksgiving, be it the gathering of family, the favorite childhood crafts to make, watching the parade, the delicious food, or the history of the day itself, this offering by the first children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky has poem for you. The book contains 12 poems filled with delightful rhymes and clever humor that are simply fun to read aloud.

Humorous illustrations by Marylin Hafner echo the clever appeal of Prelutsky’s work and are the perfect compliment to poems both children and adults will equally enjoy. Originally published in 1982, it has (thankfully) been reprinted by HarperCollins to continue finding a treasured spot on holiday bookshelves and being part of Thanksgiving celebrations for years to come.


In this Issue

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