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The Singing Cricket: coloring page

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Yes, I know that crickets don't sing.


They make a chirping noise by rubbing their hind legs together.

However, I'm going to blame this coloring page on too much Cricket in Times Square.

After creating the ladybug coloring page last month, I wanted to play with another idea--a musical insect. Crickets are a rather obvious choice, if you try to pick a musical animal. Also, we've been listening to the audio book verion of George Selden's The Cricket in Times Square quite frequently. So, a cricket it was!

The face was the easy part to draw on this picture. I did a little doodling with Mr. Cricket's eyes at the end, but the overall expression just happened.

It took me several tries, though, to figure out how to add properly insectoid legs.

Then I started wondering if he needed something more. A banjo seemed to fit, and there you have it!



Here's the PDF, for downloading the coloring page from Dropbox, if you would like to print the page for yourself!


(Free for non-co…

12 Books About Trains

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I haven't written a book list in a couple of months—not since posting Trees, seeds, and growing stories, back in May.

So, it's time to do another one, and this time, it's about...trains!

We've read a fair number of train stories, so this list was relatively easy to put together.



Train, by Elisha Cooper  We found this book by chance at the library and enjoyed the story and pictures immensely. The book introduces a lot of different trains, but it does so through a sort of traveling story—as each train pulls into the station at the end of its journey, another sets off, from the lowly commuter train to the high-speed train racing into a large city.




Steam Train, Dream Train, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  You may have heard of this one—a newer, but very popular classic-in-the-making. The story has a lot of fun action/sound words, along with gorgeous illustrations.


Choo Choo, by Virginia Wise Burton  A classic, by the author of Mike Mulligan and Ka…

Fly away home, ladybug!

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Recently, I watched a video that showed a ladybug taking flight.

I’m not sure how I’ve survived this long in the Internet Age without seeing a video of a ladybug flying, but it’s incredible and crazy. 
Like, really, really crazy—the video was a NOVA episode talking about origami patterns in nature. (You can see a little bit of it on YouTube here.)
Is is just me--or have you never seen before how a ladybug’s wings fold up under their shell?

I think I've seen them folding their wings up again after a flight, but...wow!
Seeing that video inspired me to draw a ladybug. 
I played around with the image, tried a new style, and used the image to create a printable coloring page so that you can color your own ladybug too.

Here you go!
And do let me know what you think! 

Creating a picture book, behind the scenes

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My picture, Who Laid the Egg? is free on Amazon today!
To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to explain a bit about what it takes to write a picture book—at least, according to my experience!

The original idea hatched on a cold, early morning in November…
I was making breakfast, and my toddler was helping me ‘count’ the eggs we were using. We were practicing numbers. One egg, two eggs, three eggs.
Where do we get eggs?
Well, the store, usually—but do you remember gathering eggs at Oma’s?
Did you know frogs also lay eggs? Here, let me find you a picture of frog eggs…
Hey, that’s almost like a guessing-game: ‘Who lays eggs?’
Of course, the idea needed a couple weeks to incubate, but somewhere around the end of November, I decided abruptly that I was going to make a book.
I’m not a professional artist, but I’ve some art training over the years, and this idea seemed fun—and doable. So, I got out my sketchbook and started planning.


Writing a picture book—for me anyway—can be a bit of a chicken-a…

Paint Printing: Finger Painting Part 4

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Most preschool art books mention some form of paint stamping: paint a leaf or an apple half, and press it down on paper to create a shape.

Then there are stamp and ink pad sets, and thumbprint bunny rabbits.

But what if you don't feel like cutting up apples and ruining them with purple paint?

What if you wanted to create a design with paint and copy it instantly?

I tried that idea out recently, and as a result, here is my version of a preschool-and-toddler-friendly printing press.

You will need:
Finger paintsA sheet of glossy paper or cardboardWhite paper

First help your child create a picture on the glossy paper. Keep is simply and chunky. The printing-process will smudge the paint a bit, so small details won't transfer well. (I chose to paint a speckled monster that looks oddly like an upright crocodile. The main 'small' detail in my design was a white daub of paint for its eye.)



Once your picture is ready, spread a sheet of white paper over the design, pressing down …

The crows are coming!

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Last week, we were trapped in our house by a crow.



Well, sort of.
There were actually two crows, and we weren’t in any serious danger.
I went outside earlier than usual that morning—my kids were riding on their trikes in the driveway, and I decided to sit outside with them while I sorted through some papers. After a while, though, I noticed that two crows kept flying back and forth in the trees behind me and screeching.
One would land on a branch just above my head, scream at me for a moment, snap off a twig and drop it, then fly across to the other tree. And repeat.
And repeat…
…and repeat.
It felt odd, but hey—I don’t look that much like a scary predator, right? So, why were they picking on me?
Then a neighbor kid came over and told me that he had seen a baby crow on the ground—about five feet from where I was currently sitting.
Well, whoops.
I guess the crows did have some reason to be concerned, after all?
When I started looking around, there was the baby crow—huddled back in th…

Brushes and Shields: Finger Painting Part 3

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Back in December--when I was looking for Christmas stories--I discovered Tomie DePaola's picture books. We started with his Old Befana, loved Little Grunt, and then found The Knight and the Dragon (mentioned in my post about dragon stories).

We were reading The Knight and The Dragon while we were doing another finger painting project--the same day, co-incidentally, that I had cut a couple of paper bags up for jackets.* Since the knight in the story had to create his own armor, and since the jackets did look rather like breastplates, I started to wonder whether we could also create shields from the paper bags.

We could, and we did.

This is, as usual, a fairly simple project.

Paper-bag shields:Take a paper-bag. Any grocery store bag with handles will work, though one with less printing works a bit better.Help your kids detach the handles from the top of the bag.Fold the bag down flat and fold the end over, taping or stapling it down to create a small, sturdy rectangle.Then, attach th…