May 11 – National Night Shift Workers Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-frankie-works-the-night-shift

About the Holiday

Today’s holiday honors all the people—medical personnel, firefighters, police officers, bakers, maintenance workers, and others who work the 3rd or night shift. These night owls work to keep us safe and protected, prepare treats for our morning repast, and maintain our living and work spaces for the next day. Take some time to thank a night shift worker and ask them about their perspective on the world.

Frankie Works the Night Shift

By Lisa Westberg Peters | Illustrated by Jennifer Taylor

 

In a quiet town after most people have gone to bed, Frankie the cat begins his work. He keeps busy emptying a wastebasket and cleaning two counters. From his doorway he calls other night workers to three meetings.

When the geraniums need watering, he sees that they are fed. It’s also his job to inspect the tool shelves, and tonight he discovers a stray intruder among the hammers. He chases it as it makes for the ladders—up and down, up and down—between the nail bins, ad up the stairs, causing a mess where there had just been order.

Frankie’s bosses wouldn’t approve, but he can’t worry about that now. He has his important job to attend to. But tonight is a wild night, and Frankie has awakened the management. “Be quiet, Frankie,” they shout. From their comfortable beds they ask, “What’s going on? Some of us have to work in the morning!”

And then the day workers see it—“Agh! A mouse!” They give him a task: “Go get it, Frankie!” and try to help by pointing out its whereabouts here and there. But Frankie is good at his job and pursues it through the cat door and into the backyard. It’s a night’s work well done! Frankie yawns and stretches. As he looks back at his domain, he’s glad he doesn’t work the day shift—there’s so much to clean up!

Frankie goes to bed in his red paint bucket in the hardware store window and dreams of relaxing at the beach on his well-deserved vacation.

Kids will love Lisa Westberg Peters’ frisky Frankie who is only doing his job but ends up creating chaos. Sometimes when you’re all in and concentrating on the work at hand, it’s like that, as kids and adults involved in play or projects well know. Peters’ clever story builds from Frankie’s playful antics in the hardware store to his necessary role of family protector and mouse dispatcher. The story contains an element of counting (Frankie empties one trash can, cleans two counters, calls three meetings…) which serves to enhance the humor.

Jennifer Taylor’s stunning mixed media illustrations make excellent use of digital photography. You almost want to reach out and pet Frankie or catch the objects flying in his wake. And when the little mouse peeks out from the broom or scampers across the floor, kids will say “aww!” or “eek!” depending on their courage. The first page of the streetscape at night is arresting for its uniquely designed old buildings. When I opened to this page, my graphics-loving daughter exclaimed, “Oh! What’s this book?!” and settled in to read it with me. Definitely a great beginning to an enjoyable read!

Ages 4 – 8

Greenwillow Books, Harper Collins Publishers, 2010 | ISBN 978-0060090951

Gardening for Wildlife Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cattails

Creative Cattails

 

Cattails are so cool, just like their namesake felines. They’re sleek and sophisticated and inside holds mystery that bursts out when you least expect it! Here’s a simple craft for making cattails that will enhance any bouquet or décor.

Supplies

  • 6-inch by 5/8-inch craft stick
  • 3/16–inch by 12-inch dowel
  • Chunky brown yarn,  
  • Green origami paper, 8-inch square
  • Green craft paint
  • Paint brush
  • Glue gun

Directions

To make the cattail:

  1. Paint the dowel green, let dry
  2. Glue 1 inch of the dowel to one end of the craft stick with the glue gun
  3. Starting at the bottom of the craft stick, glue an end of the brown yarn to the end of the craft stick meets the dowel
  4. Wind the yarn upward around the dowel and craft stick to the top. You will leave the 1/2 –inch curved part of the craft stick open.  Then reverse.
  5. Wind the yarn downward, going past the end of the craft stick about ½ inch to make the end of the cattail
  6. Wind the yarn upward once more to the top
  7. When you reach the top, put glue on either side of the curved top of the craft stick and pull a little of existing yarn into the glued area, pinching it closed.
  8. Cut the end of the yarn from the skein and tuck the end into the glued top.

To add the leaf:

  1. Cut a thin triangle from one side of the origami paper, starting with a 1-inch base and angling to the top of the paper
  2. Glue the base to the dowel about 1 ½ inches from the bottom
  3. Wind the paper upward around the dowel, leaving 5 inches unwound
  4. Glue the paper to the dowel, letting the 5-inch section stick up

If you’d like to make another craft using chunky brown yarn, see my April 7 post on The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Crazy Critter Race by Maxwell Eaton III to create a cute spool beaver.

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