May 26 – It’s Mystery Month

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About the Holiday

There’s nothing like a mystery to rivet your attention. Odd sounds, sudden darkness, unusual circumstances, eerie apparitions, and other unexplained phenomena have beguiled people since the beginning of time. We can’t help investigating to find out who, what, why, or how? Today read  great mystery—or solve one!

It’s Only Stanley

By Jon Agee

 

“The Wimbledons were sleeping / It was very, very late, / When Wilma heard a spooky sound, / Which made her sit up straight.” Walter goes out into the yard to investigate.  He finds their dog Stanley howling at the moon. A little later that night their daughter Wendy is wakened by a clanking sound below her floor. Walter goes down into the basement to investigate. There’s Stanley fixing the oil tank.

Next comes young Willie: “it was even later still, / When Willie smelled a funky smell / That made him kind of ill.” So Walter goes to the kitchen to investigate. He finds Stanley has constructed a homemade lab and is cooking up a bubbling catfish stew on the stove. At half past three Wanda hears a buzzing noise and Walter finds Stanley fixing the old TV.

Tiny Wylie comes in next, having heard a splashy sound, but Walter discovers it’s only Stanley clearing the bathtub drain. “Now Wilma wasn’t happy. / And the children threw a fit. / ‘We’ll never get to sleep tonight if Stanley doesn’t quit!’” So Walter says he’ll talk to Stanley but before he can leave the room a huge KAPOW! sends the family flying.

“‘I’ll go and look,’ said Walter, / ‘And I’ll be back very soon.’ / ‘It’s only Stanley.” Walter said. / ‘We’re going to the—’” Perhaps the biggest mystery isn’t how Stanley does all this…but why!

We know dogs are smart, but who can account for Stanley!? Jon Agee’s loveable, incredibly adept family pet is laugh-out-loud precocious as his nighttime exploits expand to out-of-this-world proportions. The clever word play, alliteration, and rhyming scheme of the text adds to the humor.

Kids will love Agee’s illustrations of the serious, self-assured Stanley as he goes about his tinkering all to the nonplused consternation of his family and the detriment of his nemesis—the household cat. As in many homes with pets, readers will rightly wonder—who’s in charge here? Kids will want to hear It’s Only Stanley over and over.

Ages 4 – 8

Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group, 2015 | ISBN 978-0803739079

Mystery Day Activity

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What Went Missing In the Dark? Game

 

This fun and fabulous game combines memory building with just the right amount of suspense and spookiness. The game is best played at night or in a room that can become totally black when the lights are turned off. If you play in the daytime, just have the players leave the room while you take away objects.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what's-missing-game

Rules

  1. Gather a number of small objects (the number will depend on the ages of the players. For younger players, gather 5 – 7 objects. For older players try 12 or more)
  2. Lay the objects on the ground or a blanket
  3. Tell the players to look at the objects for a certain amount of time. The time will depend on the ages of the players—a longer time for younger children, shorter for older kids (or to make the game more exciting)
  4. When the time is up, turn out the lights or send players out of the room.
  5. Remove 1 – 3 objects. To make the game more difficult rearrange the remaining objects
  6. Turn the lights back on.
  7. Let children guess which objects have been removed.
  8. Repeat until all the objects are gone
  9. For an alternate game, instead of removing objects, add one or two

Picture Book Review

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