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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Toni Buzzeo Day

Yesterday was Toni Buzzeo day at our house.  No it wasn't Toni's birthday -- that day comes on October 4th.  We'll wish her a happy birthday then.  Yesterday was Toni Buzzeo Day simply because "I'm in Charge of Celebrations."  Several years ago I read a book by Byrd Baylor in which she details a philosophy of declaring one's own days of wonder as a celebration.
Accordingly I began celebrating my own special days.  Often I involve others but my own personal celebration is fine as well.
I've been known to throw a party for a sunny day (or the first day of Spring) - inviting friends to a luncheon and decorating with yellow daffodils.  I've distributed boxes of Jell-o® to fellow staff members and declared the coming Friday as Jell-o day and requested each of them bring a "Jell-o" dish for a potluck.  I regularly celebrate Beatrix Potter's birthday (July 28) with a notice of some sort - many years a lunch with writer friends.  And blue roses -- whenever I am sent one - even one, I decorate with accents of blue and invite friends over to play cards as I know the blue rose is my own personal good luck symbol.

Toni Buzzeo Day

So yesterday I unwrapped a package of books sent (by request) from my friend Toni Buzzeo.  I had waited to open the package until my grandson Pryor could be there and we could celebrate together.  The books were inscribed to him and will become part of his growing library.  But today they became our favorite read alouds. 
Buzzeo, Toni.  (2012) One Cool Friend.  Illustrated by David Small.  (Dial)  2013 Caldecott Honor Book.

Book #1 - One Cool Friend
Elliott is an inquisitive boy so when his father suggests a trip to the aquarium, he goes along and finds much to interest him.  He is especially interested in the Penguins.  Small's illustrations add much of the humor providing red herrings to the reader who makes assumptions about what the father (and son) really thinks is going on.  Readers who know about Magellan - the explorer and Captain Cook will be given an extra layer of humor.  And the final scene just might send older readers off to investigate the Galápagos Islands and the Galápagos giant tortoises that live there.  (And while we are mentioning the Galápagos Islands -- be sure not to miss Island: A Story of the Galápagos (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) by Jason Chin. Chin takes readers back in time to the volcanic formation of the Galápagos Islands and then follows the development of the islands: the growth of the mango trees, the coming of the marine iguanas, sea turtles, and many species of birds (including the evolution of the large beaked Galápagos finches. The book ends with the arrival of the naturalist Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle.)

Buzzeo, Toni. (2012) Stay Close to Mama. Illustrated  by Mike Wohnoutka.  Hyperion.

Book #2 - Stay Close to Mama
Twiga is a small giraffe.  When his curious nature puts him in the face of danger he his admonished to "stay close to mama."  The book has been cited for it's "lyrical text and enchanting illustrations" -- all curious babies will enjoy learning that a mother's love seeks to free their curious nature while protecting them from danger. Wohnoutka's paintings of the savannah - from daybreak to sunset, through the book, from beginning to the end of the day, are extraordinarily beautiful and impressive.

Book #3 - Just Like My Papa 

Buzzeo, Toni. (2013) Stay Close to Mama.
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.  Hyperion.

Kito wants to be just like his papa - the protector of the pride.  Whatever his father does, Kito attempts to imitate. Wohnoutka's illustrations capture the play between father and son. Buzzeo's text is rhythmic and the illustrations adeptly introduces the wildebeest as the lions attempt to catch dinner.  But alas father lion is not quick enough but there are dramatic moments and Kito succeeds only with his own not-so dramatic hunt.

So there you have it - a most successful Toni Buzzeo Day.  You too can celebrate Toni Buzzeo Day, any day you wish.  Doesn't have to be her birthday or any special day -- doesn't even have to be the same day Pryor and I celebrated.  You just need to pick a date and as Baylor suggests in her I'm in Charge of Celebrations -- "keep a notebook and write the date and then write about the celebration. ... It has to be something... to remember the rest of my life."   Remembering special reading times/days will remain great days in Pryor's life as he is going to be extraordinarily interested in books - and already Pryor LOVES books by Toni Buzzeo.  The rhythm and characteristically large and impressive illustrations are just right for very young readers and certainly have layers of meaning for those readers older than Pryor.  Watch the smiles of preteen and teen readers when they breeze through One Cool Friend and find the twist at the end. A great picture book is just like an onion -- many layers; something for the very young and something for older readers as well.
If you would like to ask Toni Buzzeo to send you autographed books, you can order your own by visiting her page on her website that provides an easy method for requesting personalized copies of any of her books. 
Toni has authored many books but among my very favorites are the three titles featured with Pryor, and these other titles: Dawdle Duckling, Ready or Not Dawdle Duckling, Little Loon and Papa, The Sea Chest, Lighthouse Christmas. Plan ahead and make sure you have a few of these books for every gift giving occasions.  Giving a gift of a book is like giving a child the world - readers are leaders.


  1. Very nice, Sharron. Thanks for sharing this celebration.

  2. What a great idea!