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donnaodonnellfigurski.com - PALAPALOOZA
written by Daphne Skinner
illustrated by Jerry Smath
Kane Press
ISBN: 1-57565-163-7
Ages 5 - 7

You’re a pal! or What a pal! – two great sayings – comforting sounds. Having a pal IS a comfort. It means having a special friend -- someone that really likes you. It means not being alone, though there’s nothing wrong with being alone, and I even enjoy it at times. But, for most Kiddles there is safety and comfort when being with a pal. It means being one of the gang, the group. It means having someone to do something with. It doesn’t matter what . . . climb a tree, swing on a vine, read a book together. It doesn’t matter what; it’s the “being” together part that feels good.

The kids in Palapalooza, written by Daphne Skinner and illustrated by Jerry Smath, knew that, too. They liked being together, but when January came around and all the holiday fun was over, it got boring. So, Carter and his friends decided to find something to perk up their days. They tried to invent a new holiday. They tried Pet Awareness Day and that was great fun . . . until it wasn’t – when the pets did not cooperate. Slobfest had great potential, too – eating with your hands, wearing dirty clothes, sleeping to noon, yep, great potential . . . until the moms brought it to a halt before it even began. Chocolate Fest! Now that’s my kind of holiday, but you can just imagine what went wrong there.

So, when Eva thought up Friendship Day – a day to honor her friends, Carter, Denzel, Meg, and George agreed. What a great idea to celebrate “Friendship” each year. Those friends really stayed connected. High Schools celebrate friendship with reunions every few years and I go to mine as often as I can, but wouldn’t it be fun to have grade school reunions, too -- or how about nursery school reunions? Can you imagine seeing your four year old friends all grown up and, well . . . acting like grown ups?

Friends are like your favorite childhood teddy bear. They may get old and raggedy, a little worn around the edges, but they are always there to love. My best friend and I met in Colorado just last month. It was like I had seen her yesterday, and we acted it, too – all giggly and talky, talky, talky. So, I’m all for a holiday called Friendship Day, and I think we should celebrate it every month.
“Where should we meet next month, Trish?”

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“This book was about a group of friends who wanted to make a new holiday,” said Pritka.

“When I first read a few pages, I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was wrong,” said Ethan.

“I liked the way the author expressed the kids’ feelings because January really is a boring month,” said Pritka. “Everything is over,” she continued. “New Years is over! Christmas is over!”

“I love Christmas and New Year,” interrupted Becky. “You get lots of presents.”

“Kwanza is over! Hanukah is over! Everything is over!” continued Pritka. “You have to wait until February 14th for another holiday.”

Jake looked like he agreed, then he said, “But, on a boring January day, when you are not doing anything, you could have a friend come over and play.”

“Or you could play in the snow or go sledding,” said Jane.

“You could go to an inside pool,” said Nina.

“I would ask my mom or dad to take me to a park to get exercise. That would be healthy,” said Jewel.

Pritka rolled her eyes. “All of that includes work,” she said. “January is my ‘go home and rest month’ or I could go to the mall and spend one hundred dollars on clothes,” she added with a giggle, “ . . . or watch TV.”

“That is NOT good for your brain,” said Jake.

Pritka kind of rolled her eyes again, but didn’t reply.

“I would make a holiday,” said Timmy.

“This book gives you lots of ideas for holidays,” said Pritka.

“Right! They wanted a fun holiday . . . so they made them up,” said Ethan. “They tried Pet Day . . .”

“ . . . And Chocolate Fest and they got sick,” interrupted Jane.

“I liked the chocolate part,” said Jewel with a snicker.

“I like chocolate, too,” said Jane. “My favorite kind is chocolate crunch.”

“ . . . And Sloppy Day . . .” said Ethan waiting not so patiently for all the interruptions.

“A disgusting slob fest, which by the way, ended before it began,” said Pritka.

“They just didn’t work,” said Ethan.

“If I made up a holiday, all stores would have to have major sales,” said Jake. “The stores would be haywire, but it would still be great!”

“My holiday would be Video Game Day,” said Philippe. “There would be contests, food and lots and lots of friends.”

“Then Eva thought of a day for enjoying friendship,” said Ethan.

“And they had a new holiday,” said Philippe.

“They called it Palapalooza,” said Jane.

“Palapalooza was weird and cool at the same time,” said Jewel.

Nina nodded. “But they were having fun!” she said.

“I think Palapalooza is a good holiday,” said Timmy.

“ . . . A day to enjoy your friendship with those who you’ve got as friends,” said Ethan.

“I think this book is an inspiration for kids to use their imaginations a little more,” said Jake, “because after reading this, they might think of holidays that they might be able to make up.

Ethan looked a little smug. He said, “And let their imaginations soar!”


PALAPALOOZA POEM - Friendly Flattering Facts: Language Arts/Social Skills

Everyone loves to hear wonderful things about themselves -- and friends are just about the best people to tell you those wonderful things. Tell the Kiddles that they are going to write poems about each other. Tell them to think their best thoughts and really think about the person whom they are writing the poem about. These poems are similar to acrostic poems, so you can look here for more information. ReadWriteThink: Student Materials: Acrostic Poems

Make an A to Z list of adjectives. This will allow Kiddles to choose words from this list if they get stuck.

A – agreeable adorable
B – brave brainy
C – cheerful clever
D – dainty delightful
Z - zany zippy

1. Demonstrate on the white board.
2. Choose a Kiddle’s name, or better yet, use your own. It will be fun to get all the
3. Write the chosen name vertically on the board with a line next to each letter . . . like this.
That’s my name.

D ________
O ________
N ________
N ________
A ________

Then have the class suggest different attributes about the chosen person beginning with each of the letters in her name and write the words next to each of the letters . . . like this.

D aring
O ne of a kind
N utty
N aughty
A wesome

Or like this . . .

T rue
R easonable
E xceptional
S pecial
K itten lover
A mazing


1. Prepare index cards (4” x 6”) with each Kiddle’s name written vertically. (one name per
card) (colored cards are more enticing)
2. Place one letter of the name on each line. (See examples above) Donna Treska
(or adjust letter size appropriately for your class)
3. Then put all cards in a basket and each Kiddle will pick a name from the basket to use
4. Have each Kiddle write a flattering fact next to each letter of their pal’s name.
5. When all are done, punch a hole in the upper left corner of each card and place each
one on its own 1” metal ring.
6. Meet as a group and ask each Kiddle to announce their Palapalooza Pal and read their
poem. (Watch the smiles and listen for the giggles.)
7. Choose one day a week to continue this project so that each child has written a poem
about each of their PALAPALOOZA PALS. (include all Kiddles in the class) Then you can
have a PALAPALOOZA holiday every week.
8. Don’t forget to allow the Kiddles to write a poem about themselves.
9. When the project is completed, give each Kiddle two blank index cards (4” x 6”) to decorate as covers for their PALAPALOOZA POEM booklet.

COMPLIMENT DAY: Language Arts/Social Skills/Self-Esteem

When was the last time you gave a compliment or received one? Compliments are as much fun to give as to get. They make you feel good. I bet you do it all the time. When you see your best friend and you like her new bracelet, don’t you tell her so? “That bracelet is so cool!” or when your pal on the soccer team scores the winning goal, you might punch the air and say, “You are the MAN!” So why not spread more of that good cheer around your school, your home, your community?

Use chart paper to make a list of all the people around your school, home, and community who Kiddles can give compliments to. Some suggestions below:

SCHOOL - classmates, teachers, principals, custodians, secretaries
HOME - mom, dad, brother, sister, granny, grandpa, aunt, uncle
COMMUNITY – crossing guard, police officer, librarian, pals’ parents

Then make a list of possible compliments.

You did a good job on your HOMEFUN.
You are the best artist.
Nice work.
You jump rope really well.

Encourage your Kiddles to try to compliment at least two classmates each day and at least one person at home or in the community. Once they begin, watch their enthusiasm grow and grow and . . . GROW! It might even become habit forming . . . and wouldn’t that make the world a better “PALAPALOOZING” place?

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

ReadWriteThink: Student Materials: Acrostic Poems
Compliment Day


Sitting Ducks by Michael Bedard
Don’t Need Friends by Carolyn Crimi; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Arthur Loses a Friend by Marc Brown
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