About the Holiday
This week we celebrate families. Yes, those people you may just have seen at the Thanksgiving dinner table—those people that you love even as you sometimes wonder if you’re really related. National Family Week was established in 1968 by Sam Wiley, a former teacher and administrator from Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1970 Wiley partnered with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. The aim of the Alliance and this designated holiday is to “build community connections and honor those who strengthen families.” Today, tell your family members how much they mean to you and plan some fun activities that include all!
Meet the Dullards
Written by Sara Pennypacker | Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Gray—that’s what the Dullards are. Gray and happily extra boring. Their life is going on in its monotonous way until one day when Mr. and Mrs. Dullard happen upon a most disturbing sight. Their three children are reading—and not only that, they are reading books about befriending lions, juggling, and walking a tightrope. The elder Dullards do what any self-respecting dullard would do. They retrieve the books and hand their children blank pieces of paper to read instead.
The children are definitely becoming a problem. They want to go to school and have been playing outside. It’s not our fault, bemoan the parents; it must be the town, where last fall some leaves actually turned color and there’s that unruly snail in the driveway. In fact the whole atmosphere is like a circus! There’s only one thing to do. The Dullards pack up their house and Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud and move away.
Immediately upon moving into their new home, they are bombarded by the neighbor lady bringing exclamation marks and chunky applesauce cake into their perfectly dull new home. The kids are sent to watch the (unplugged) TV, but instead their eyes are drawn to the window. While unpacking Mr. and Mrs. Dullard discover a sight so shocking that Mrs. Dullard faints into the arms of her distressed husband. It’s yellow flowered wallpaper. (An exclamation mark would be appropriate here, but you know…)
On the way to the paint store the family stops to get ice-cream cones, and with 90,000 flavors to choose from they pick vanilla. Plain cone or sugar cone? No cone, of course. At the paint store Mr. Dullard suggests medium gray, but Mrs. Dullard deems it too risky. Its similarity to highways could make the kids think of travel. Beige? Mrs. Dullard counters. Too much like clay, says Mr. Dullard which can be used to create stuff. They come to a compromise and go home to—you’ve got it—watch the paint dry.
While their parents are mesmerized the kids sneak away and out the window that so enthralled them before. The sight of Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud juggling, teaching a dog tricks, and somersaulting on the clothesline, ushers in another move—back to where they came from just in time for the kids to join the circus.
With dry wit and laugh-out-loud dialogue Sara Pennypacker delivers a spot-on family story. While seen through the eyes of Mr. and Mrs. Dullard, this funny tale is all about the kids. What kids don’t think their parents are dull and conventional? And can parents really understand what’s going on in those little minds? Both children and adults will love the Dullards, and after reading you may be inspired to go out for vanilla chocolate ice-cream (ok, you can still hold the cone!).
Daniel Salmieri’s Dullards are comic genius! With their oval bodies and gray attire they blend with their oatmeal-hued walls to perfect effect. Identical square houses give way to identical triangular houses as the Dullards move to avoid catastrophic enthusiasm. The kids’ facial expressions as they adhere to booorring rules are priceless, as are the parents’ reactions to the slightest excitement. Details such as a yellow snail in the driveway, the elder Dullards’ looks of horror when discovering the bright wallpaper, the signs on the ice-cream kiosk, and the name of the moving van provide humorous jokes on each page.
Ages 4 – 8
Balzer + Bray, Harper Collins, 2015 | ISBN 978-0062198563
Visit Sara Pennypacker‘s virtual studio to learn more about her, her books, and her thoughts on writing and literacy.
View a portfolio of Daniel Salmieri‘s artwork for picture books and other illustrations on his website!
National Family Week Activity
Paint Strip Inspiration
Do you like to laugh? Do you like to watch paint dry? It is kind of cool how it changes color a bit as it dries….Oh, sorry! Where was I? Oh yeah—this craft. Paint sample strips make brilliant backdrops to your thoughts about love, life, laughter, family—anything! You can mix and match your favorite colors and arrange them any way you like to decorate your wall. Frame them for a more put-together look!
- 4 -5 paint strips from a hardware store OR You could also make your own color stips with poster board and craft paint
- Poster board
- Craft paint
- Paint brush
- Markers or adhesive letters
- Mounting squares
- Frame (optional)
- Choose an inspirational or funny quotation or make up your own phrase
- Decide how you would like the words displayed on the paint strips
- Count how many paint strips you will need
- If you are using paint strips from a paint or hardware store, choose the number of color strips that you need and write the letters and/or words of your phrase into the individual squares. You can print one letter per square or multiple letters or even whole words. Mix styles of print to give it your own unique look.
- If you are making your own paint strip, cut poster board into strips 9 inches long by 2 inches wide, or to desired size
- Paint squares of color to fill the strip, leaving a 1/8-inch-wide stripe between colors
- Think of a phrase that expresses your thoughts on life and laughter OR use a favorite quotation
- Print the words on the squares of color OR use adhesive letters. You can print one letter per square or multiple letters or even whole words. Mix styles of print to give it your own unique look.
- Mount or frame your paint strip phrase