Gift Guide 2015 Day 9: Gifts for the Young Gardener

Although we are just heading into the winter months, you and your young reader can dream of the warm spring and summer days ahead with these gardening gifts. Start with a few garden inspired books  (of course) to tide you until planting time, then get ready to dig in the dirt! 

You might also enjoy the other posts in our Book-Inspired Gift Guide: Day 1: Holiday BooksDay 2: Peter RabbitDay 3: OliviaDay 4: MadelineDay 5: For Little Artists and CreatorsDay 6: The Very Hungry CaterpillarDay 7: Winnie the Pooh, and Day 8: Miss Bindergarten

Young Gardener's Gift Guide

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

My Garden on Off the Shelf


The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small


Growing Vegetable Soup


And Then It's Spring

And Then It's Spring on Off the Shelf



Get young green thumbs started with this child-sized VegTrug



We love the idea behind these kid-friendly seeds from Gardener's Supply. From the product description: "Powerful Plants uses lively characters to get kids connected with the outdoors and to help them make healthy food choices. Six packs of vegetable seeds have playful graphics that tap into kids' imaginations. Download the free app, and then aim your phone or tablet at the seed pack and the characters on the seed packets come to life to share growing and cooking tips and other fun facts. Seed packets include Tom Thumb heirloom shell pea, Daucus red-cored chantenay carrot, Mammoth sunflower, Casper pumpkin, Snow White cherry tomato, and Lacinato (dino) kale."



They can help their garden grow with this set of child-sized hand tools and wooden plant markers from Etsy shop BettyandDodge.



Etsy shop The Gifted Tomato has several kids' seeds packets and gardening kits including a Pizza Garden Kit (which comes in a mini pizza box!), and a starter kit (pictured above). 



Finally, they can wear their pride on their sleeve with this Garden Tools T-shirt! Choose from five different colors and six different sizes, and it comes in adult sizes too!


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Gift Guide 2015 Day 8: Miss Bindergarten

On the first day of the last week of school before the holiday break, we have gifts inspired by the best (in our opinion) teacher in children's literature: Miss Bindergarten! Did your young reader start kindergarten this year, or is he or she getting ready to start in the fall? The Miss Bindergarten books are the perfect introduction to the fun and "controlled chaos" that is the kindergarten classroom!

You might also enjoy the other posts in our Book-Inspired Gift Guide: Day 1: Holiday BooksDay 2: Peter RabbitDay 3: OliviaDay 4: MadelineDay 5: For Little Artists and CreatorsDay 6: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Day 7: Winnie the Pooh.

Miss Bindergarten Gift Guide

Love the original Miss Kindergarten? Add to your collection with any of the 6 other title in the series. Two that work particularly well for this time of year are... 

Miss Bindergarten Stays Home From Kindergarten (the sick-day season is upon us!) and...

Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten (the 100th day usually falls in January). 


Share story time with your own Miss Bindergarten Doll! Also see illustrator Ashely Wolff's customer review with her Miss Bindergarten look-alike border collie!



Miss Bindergarten's classroom is a wonderland of toys to play with and learn. These wood building blocks reminded me of the blocks in her classroom, which seem to be very popular with her students. Shop Howells Natural Wood Products has block sets in many different sizes to choose from, so your young readers' creations can be as big as their imaginations!



The animals, alphabet, and bright colors on this ABC Animal Print are reminiscent of the Miss Bindergarten books. Perfect for hanging in a reading nook!

Gift Guide Day 7: Winnie the Pooh

Day 7 of our Book-Inspired Gift Guide is all about Winnie the Pooh! Be sure to check out our post on a Collection of A.A. Milne Books. There is a lovely recipe for Honey Hot Chocolate, and some Honey Bread to go with it! 

You might also enjoy the other posts in our Book-Inspired Gift Guide: Day 1: Holiday BooksDay 2: Peter RabbitDay 3: Olivia, Day 4: MadelineDay 5: For Little Artists and Creators, and Day 6: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Winnie the Pooh Gift Guide

Cuddle up with the silly old bear with this Classic Winnie the Pooh Plush! Classic Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger are also available. 


The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook



I absolutely love this Hundred Acre Wood Print from Etsy shop TheDutchHospitalArt is available in a variety of size. I can't think of a better piece of art to decorate a playroom or bedroom!


Finally, young readers can learn the story of Winnie, the bear that inspired Christopher Robin's own plush bear, in these two lovely picture books:

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear


Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh

Gift Guide 2015 Day 6: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the most beloved picture books of all time, and that shows in the number of products available featuring the caterpillar, fruit, and butterfly. Any of these would make wonderful book-inspired gifts, but I think we have chosen some that really inspired young readers' creativity, curiosity, and imagination. Aren't those the best kinds of presents you can give?

We are halfway through our Book-Inspired Gift Guide! You might also enjoy Day 1: Holiday BooksDay 2: Peter Rabbit, Day 3: Olivia, and Day 4: For Little Artists and Creators.

Don't forget to check out our Very Hungry Caterpillar post, featuring recipes, art activities and more inspired by the book.



Does reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar pique your young readers interest in the minuscule world of bugs? Help them out with this Very Hungry Caterpillar Magnifying Glass, perfectly sized for small hands!


How much fun would it be to act out the story with these puppets? Simply pull out the play food, and start with the Caterpillar Hand Puppet...

...then finish the story with the Butterfly Hand Puppet! Complete the play by making our Cardboard Box Puppet Theater together!



You can also recreate the entire story with this exquisitely handcrafted felt play set from Etsy shop Sew Smart Home. Young readers can thread the caterpillar through all the foods from the book, then watch as the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. Comes with a trifold book to keep track of all the pieces. Amazing!



Young readers can color their own version of the books with this Very Hungry Caterpillar Coloring Book. Hint: They can use some of the art supplies from yesterday's post to bring their story to life!


Gift Guide 2015 Day 5: For Little Artists and Creators

Welcome to Day 5 of of our book-inspired gift guide. Today is a bit different from the past few days; we have suggestions for a few book that are perfect for budding artists and creators (and what child isn't one, the other, or both?), then there are lots of supplies that can fuel their creative pursuits. What a perfect way to beat the post-holiday and winter blahs?

You might also enjoy Day 1: Holiday BooksDay 2: Peter RabbitDay 3: Olivia, and Day 4: Madeline.

Gifts for the Young Artist and Creator

Beautiful Oops! 

Beautiful Oops! on Off the Shelf


The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing on Off the Shelf


Sky Color

Sky Color on Off the Shelf



Easel Paper Pad



240 sheets of Crayola Construction Paper in assorted colors



Crayola Ultimate Crayon Case with 152-Crayons



You can never have too many Crayola Classic Markers!



Tinkertoy Classic Jumbo Set



Tinkertoy Classic Construction Set: Junior Builder

Gift Guide 2015 Day 4: Madeline

Spend you holiday at the old house in Paris that was covered in vines with the one and only Madeline! This is day 4 of out Book-Inspired Gift Guide; you might also enjoy Gift Guide Day 1: Holiday BooksGift Guide Day 2: Peter Rabbit, and Gift Guide Day 3: Olivia.


Madeline Gift Guide

If you love the original Madeline, you and your young reader will enjoy A Madeline Treasury, which contains all 6 of the original stories written by Ludwig Bemelmans, including Madeline's Rescue and Madeline's Christmas (The series was continued by Bemelmans' grandson). 



This lovely collectible Madeline holiday doll from Etsy is dressed in tartan plaid and is holding a stocking with Genevieve! 


For a second collectible doll option, this Madeline doll sports a red coat, faux fur muff, and velvet hat. This version of the doll is very special to me; my great-grandmother gave me a Madeline just like this, as well as a copy of Madeline's Christmas, when I was two. She comes out every year to help celebrate Christmas with us!



These hand-painted Madeline wooden peg dolls from Etsy shop TheWhimsicalSweet, including Miss Clavel, Madeline, Genevieve, and the Eiffel Tower, are the perfect way for young readers to act out the story! 




I couldn't resist including this Genevieve plush toy in her own Madeline tote bag! Young animal lovers can play all day with their own Genevieve, then take her anywhere in her special carry bag! 



The Madeline Christmas Activity Book would make a perfect stocking stuffer to top off you young readers' Madeline Christmas!



Finally, just like yesterday's Olivia pajamas, we loves these Madeline pajamas! Again, why don't they come in adult sizes?


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Gift Guide 2015 Day 3: Olivia

We are back with Day 3 of our Book-Inspired Gift Guide, today with the marvelous Olivia! If your young readers enjoyed the Olivia and Olivia Helps with Christmas recipes and activities we have featured on Off the Shelf, you might like to bring the book alive even more with some of the following ideas.  Also, check out Day 1 for holiday books and Day 2 for Peter Rabbit-inspired ideas

Olivia Gift Guide

Start with the original Olivia, then add to your collection with... 

...Olivia Goes to Venice...


...Olivia and the Fairy Princesses...


...or Olivia Saves the Circus!



Who better to share the stories with than Olivia herself? This Olivia plush doll is ready to accompany your young readers on the fabulous adventures only Olivia can have! Also available in 20" size for even more Olivia pizazz. 



There are few picture book characters who have a better sense of style than Olivia. These Olivia pajamas from Books to Bed feature just a few of her favorite looks from Olivia and the Fairy Princess, and will inspire young readers own imaginations! Also available to purchase with a copy of Olivia and the Fairy Princess. I wish they came in adult sizes!



Finally, Olivia's iconic stripes and red hue will add special flair to your Christmas tree with this set of 2 Olivia Ornaments


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Gift Guide 2015 Day 2: Peter Rabbit

In our humble opinion, it doesn't get more classic than Beatrix Potter's "little books," and no young reader's book collection is complete without The Tale of Peter Rabbit. For over 110 years, the mischievous bunny has been delighting readers of all ages, and has come to life in countless ways. Delight the young readers in your life with their own ways to play with Peter!

Peter Rabbit Gift Guide

Begin with the original The Tale of Peter Rabbit...


...or a set of four classic Beatrix Potter stories, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher, The Tale of Tom Kitten, and The Tale of Jemima Puddle- Duck. 



Etsy shop Storybook Blocks features blocks inspired by so many wonderful books! The Peter Rabbit blocks are a lovely way to bring the story to life and an opportunity to play games based on the book. 



This Peter Rabbit toy set (also included a pumpkin from Mr. McGregor's garden) is handmade from poplar wood and decorated with wood burned details and non-toxic paint, and finally hand rubbed with natural beeswax polish and jojoba oil. The shop MomNmee also has toys featuring Mrs. Tiggywinkle and LucieSquirrel Nutkin, and Benjamin Bunny.



Young readers can cuddle with their own Peter Rabbit Plush by Gund. Isn't he adorable?



Play with Peter and all of Beatrix Potter's characters in the Peter Rabbit's Garden game app. Available for iOS or Android.


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Gift Guide 2015 Day 1: Holiday Books

Hello friends! Are you getting into the holiday spirit? This can be such a magical time of year with young readers scampering around the house; their excitement is truly infectious! And, of course, be sure to include special Christmas books for extra holiday spirit and fun! 

One of our goals on Off the Shelf is to bring picture books alive for young readers, so that they inspire children’s love of reading and also spark their imaginations, nurture their creativity, and so much more. Just in time for Christmas, this year we're bringing you 12 days of book-inspired gift ideas for meaningful gift-giving to the young readers in your life. 

To start things off today, we have a collection of Christmas books featuring some of our favorite picture book characters, perfect for early gift giving so they can be enjoyed this holiday season, or for under the tree for the years to come. In the next 11 days you will find more books, toys, and more to inspire reading all year!


Olivia Helps with Christmas

Check out Olivia and Olivia Helps with Christmas recipes and activities on Off the Shelf!


The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit recipe and activities


Madeline's Christmas

Madeline on Off the Shelf


The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123

The Very Hungry Caterpillar recipes and activities on Off the Shelf


Bear Stays Up for Christmas

Bear Says Thanks on Off the Shelf


If You Take a Mouse to the Movies

Try the If You Take  a Mouse to the Movies recipe and activities from Off the Shelf!n


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Humbug Witch

by Lorna Balian

 Humbug Witch is the story of a witch and her cat Fred. She looks like a witch should, and acts like a witch should, but her spells and potions just won't work! Can you guess why? Read the story to discover the reason she struggles with her witching duties.

Sometimes things aren't what always what they seem, and many things at Halloween that may initially seems scary are just make-believe and all in fun. Lorna Balian's expressive use of text and illustrations add to the mystery and delight of this not-so-scary and oh-so-enjoyable Halloween book. This story will tickle the funny bones of trick or treaters of all ages!

In this Issue


Costume Collage



As young readers discover as they finish Humbug Witch, the little girl is no witch at all; it is simply a fun Halloween costume. Invite young readers to see themselves transformed with a magical costume of their own design but using scraps of this and that to create a fun costume collage. 

Does your young reader have trouble deciding on only one Halloween costume? This is the perfect activity to let young imaginations run wild with possibilities, and actually see their ideas come to life. Just like you believe the little girl is a real witch, young readers will actually see themselves transformed into what they have only imagined. 

While this is a perfect activity for October, young readers can use their imaginations to transform themselves any time of year. 

Costume Collage


  • Full body image of your young reader printed on card stock
  • Catalogus or magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Construction paper
  • Stickers
  • Markers
  1. Take a picture of your young reader if necessary and print out on an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of cardstock, so the image is large enough for your young reader to add costume details. 
  2. What costume will your young reader create? Invite your young reader to go through catalogs and magazines, cutting out images of clothing or textures to create the costume.  You can also use construction paper to create the whole costume or certain elements. 
  3. Glue the pieces to the photo to construct the costume. Add stickers and other Halloween elements with markers. 

You may also enjoy: Imagine If Portraits, Magnificent Hats! Mural


Watch and Enjoy

We love this short Disney cartoon featuring Witch Hazel, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and Donald Duck. Trick or treat!


Magic Potion Stew


Just like the little witch's magic potion, you can dump "all the very best things" in your "very best kettle" and make a batch of Magic Potion Stew. 

Magic Potion Stew

Adapted from Black Bean 'n' Pumpkin Chili


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup witches teeth (about 1 onion, chopped)
  • 1 cup dragon scales (about 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can swamp sludge (diced tomatoes in tomato juice)
  • 1 15 ounce can jack-o'-lantern stew starter (pumpkin)
  • 2 cups spider eggs (beans, white, black, or garbanzo)
  • 3 cups dried bats (bow tie pasta)
  • 4 cup swamp water (tomato juice)
  • Magic spices
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Spiderwebs for topping (shredded mozzarella cheese)
  1. In your "very best kettle," heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir for 30 seconds. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except the mozzarella) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the pasta is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Towards the end, the stew will bubble and splatter, so be careful!
  3. Serve topped with spiderwebs!


You May Also Enjoy: Pumpkin-Peanut Butter SoupButton Soup

To go with your Magic Potion Stew: Snackin' BonesA Batty Good Snack, and Magic Wish Cookies


Explore our Not-so-Scary Halloween Pinterest Board for more festive ideas!


More from Off the Shelf

One Year Ago: Rattlebone Rock

Two Years Ago: Wobble the Witch Cat

Three Years Ago: Moonlight: The Halloween Cat

Four Years Ago:  Big Pumpkin

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