May 15 – It’s Reading Is Fun Week

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About the Holiday

What’s your definition of fun? Is it going new places? Meeting new people? Laughing with friends? Getting in on the latest trend—or setting one of your own? If it’s one—or all—of these, you’ve just described reading! This week is dedicated to discovering the enjoyment that delving into a great book can bring at any age! To celebrate, stock up on books old and new and have fun reading!

Misunderstood Shark

Written by Ame Dyckman | Illustrated by Scott Magoon

 

The camera crew is ready, the sound engineer is holding the mic, and the director is counting down to the snap of the clapper for the latest episode of Underwater World with Bob. Bob is holding his own against the current, poised to begin his monologue. The show goes live, and Bob, smiling at the people, is about to announce some fun facts when…Shark!…the broadcast is interrupted by the sharp teeth and wave-slicing fin of a Great White.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2018, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic.

Shark is just about to gulp down a little gold fish when Bob alerts him to the people watching. “‘The PEOPLE can see me?’” Shark says, a starlit glint in his eyes. Understanding the pulse of the audience, Shark offers, “‘You misunderstood! I wasn’t going to eat him.’” It seems Shark just wanted to show off his new pearly white. The consummate host, Bob uses this diversion to his advantage and reveals a Fun Fact about a shark’s tremendous dental abilities.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2018, text copyright Ame Dyckman, 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic.

Bob’s even willing to include this interloper in his show—kind of a Shark-on-the-sea type of interview—but when he looks, he discovers Shark zooming toward the surface and an unsuspecting baby seal, fangs at the ready. Bob shouts to leave the baby seal alone in front of the people, and, again, it seems Bob has misunderstood Shark. He has the seal gripped so tightly only because he’s taking her back home. This brings up another Fun Fact about a shark’s dining habits from Bob and a corny joke from the sound engineer.

Bob is humble enough to admit he may have been wrong—yet again—about Shark, but Shark has disappeared and his following his nose to…. Bob hurries after Shark in pursuit of his exclusive and the answer to the burning question “‘What do you smell, Shark?’” but Shark is on a mission to find the source of the red stuff tinting the water. Bob pops up with another Fun Fact, but his crew is scrambling to get out of the way.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-misunderstood-shark-baby-seal

Copyright Scott Magoon, 2018, courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

With Shark zeroing in on his human target, Bob drops his mic, throws out two tentacles and tries to stop him” “‘Nooo, Shark! Don’t eat the people—IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE!’” But Shark is nothing if not a performer, and once again he’s been misunderstood. He only wanted to help. Now there’s chaos on the beach—screaming and running—but Shark is mystified. Then he breaks out in tears. No one, it seems, understands. 

Bob uses this touching moment to tell his audience that “you’re actually thousands of times more likely to be bitten by another person than bitten by a shark.’” Shark now needs a hug, and Bob obliges. Awww…so sweet! But, wait! Shark is a shark, and he just can’t help himself. And Bob? He’s suddenly got the inside scoop, but he rolls with it—after all, the show must go on!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-misunderstood-shark-band-aids

Copyright Scott Magoon, 2018, courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me! Ame Dyckman’s hilarious fish tale will have kids rolling with laughter as the show Underwater World with Bob goes awry when a wily shark works the audience to gain sympathy and, ultimately, a little snack. The wise-cracking production crew adds to the freewheeling fun with jokes and humorous asides. As Bob maintains his professional composure amid the chaos, readers learn some fascinating shark facts and can’t be faulted for hoping Shark is at least nominated for an Emmy. Kids of all ages will love shouting along with the frightened crew as much as they enjoy echoing Shark’s reassuring phrase.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-misunderstood-shark-little-fish

Copyright Scott Magoon, 2018, courtesy of scottmagoon.com.

Scott Magoon is a master at eliciting a vast array of emotions from his cartoony characters. Jellyfish Bob is at turns professional, upbeat, disgruntled, apologetic, suspicious, and taken in with just a few touches to his eyebrows, eyes, and mouth. Likewise, the squid crew react to the ever-changing set with aplomb while also sharing their disbelief and some funny banter. Magoon’s stocky Shark, however, is the star of the show with his innocent guise and not-so-hidden ambitions. The histrionic waterworks at the end will tickle kids, and Bob’s resigned tip of the hat is the perfect send off to this fintasticly funny story. Magoon’s periodic shift from the ocean backdrop to the “audience at home” puts readers front and center to all the action.

Misunderstood Shark is must summer reading (dynamic readings are sure to inspire pool and beach fun), and the book would be a much-asked-for addition to home bookshelves now and classroom libraries for the fall.

Ages 3 – 7

Orchard Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1338112474

Discover more about Ame Dyckman and her books on her website.

To learn more about Scott Magoon, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Swim on over and watch the Misunderstood Shark book trailer!

Misunderstood Shark Giveaway

 

I’m excited to partner with Orchard Books, Scholastic, Inc. in this giveaway of

  • One copy of Misunderstood Shark  by Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, May 14 – May 21. Already a follower? Thanks! Just  Retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on May 22.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Scholastic, Inc.

Reading Is Fun Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shark-and-books-maze

Book-Loving Shark Maze

 

This shark loves to read! In fact, she wants to devour that whole stack of books. Can you help her cross the sea to get them in this printable puzzle?

Book-Loving Shark Maze | Book-Loving Shark Maze Solution

Picture Book Review

September 4 – National Wildlife Day

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About the Holiday

National Wildlife Day, founded in 2005, serves to bring awareness to the number of endangered animals that need to be preserved and rescued each year. The holiday also acknowledges the zoos, outstanding animal sanctuaries, and other global organizations for everything they do to help preserve this planet’s animals and educate the public about conservation – especially the children, who are our future conservationists and animal’s caretakers.

 

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark

Written by Heather Lang | Illustrated by Jordi Solano

 

When young Eugenie Clark pressed her face against the aquarium window at the sharks swimming by, she did not see “piercing eyes…rows of sharp teeth…vicious, bloodthirsty killers.” Instead she saw “sleek, graceful fish” and dreamed of being inside the tank to swim among them. She loved to spend Saturdays at the New York Aquarium sharing her knowledge of fish with visitors. She wished there was more information available about sharks and hoped for a day when she could learn more about them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-swimming-with-sharks-at-aquarium

Image copyright Jordi Solano, 2016, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

At home her mother bought Genie her own little fish tank, and soon the whole apartment was full of fish and reptiles. Genie kept careful notes on her pets as she tried to answer her many questions. William Beebe, a famous scientist who studied fish, was Genie’s hero. She too wished to explore the ocean like he did. But this was the 1930s and not many people “dared to study the depths of the sea, and none were women.” Eugenie’s mother suggested she study typing and try to become Beebe’s secretary. The life of a secretary was not what Genie had in mind.

Eugenie received a Master’s Degree in zoology, and when a well-known ichthyologist offered her a job as his research assistant and an opportunity to take oceanography classes, she moved to California. There she collected fish and water samples. The beauty of the underwater world astonished her. In the lab she was able to dissect a swell shark to learn “how and why it puffs up.” But Genie wanted to dive deeper—to swim with sharks.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-swimming-with-sharks-studying

Image copyright Jordi Solano, 2016, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

One day, Genie’s professor allowed her to try helmet diving. Wearing the heavy metal helmet, Genie was able to descend into the cold, murky deep where kelp forests waved with the current. “In 1949 the US Navy hired Genie to study poisonous fish in the South Seas. As she collected fish, she came face to face with a shark. The shark swam closer and closer then suddenly dove and disappeared out of sight. Genie was thrilled by the encounter.

In 1955 Eugenie moved to Florida and opened the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, becoming the first to study sharks in their natural environment. The more she studied sharks, the more she realized that they were intelligent creatures, not stupid “eating machines” as most people thought. She wondered if sharks could be trained.

Eugenie set up an experiment in which a shark needed to press a white board to receive a reward a short swim away. Soon, the female shark of the pair realized that if the male shark pressed the board, she could swim to retrieve the reward. The pair remembered the exercise even after a ten-week break. Soon, scientists from around the world wanted to work with Genie. 

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Image copyright Jordi Solano, 2016, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

Word reached her about “‘sleeping sharks,’” off the coast of Mexico. Instead of swimming around, these sharks stayed on the ocean floor. Eugenie was determined to learn how they breathed without moving. She dived deep into their territory, finding a requiem shark in an ocean cave. Here, she was face-to-face with one of the most feared fish in the sea. Genie swallowed any worry and watched as the fish opened and closed its mouth, providing itself with oxygen as a remora fish cleaned its gills.

Genie took water samples and completed other tests that revealed astonishing facts about the ocean caves and the habits of sharks. But while Genie was learning the facts about these mysterious sea creatures, most people still feared them and considered them with suspicion and superstition. As time went by, Genie began seeing fewer and fewer sharks on her dives. They were being killed out of fear, for their fins, and because people thought it would make beaches safer.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-swimming-with-sharks-sunset

Image copyright Jordi Solano, 2016, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

Genie began talking about her research, and people listened. “Dr. Eugenie Clark had become one of the most respected fish scientists in the world.” She taught people that there is always more to learn and “always more surprises.”

An extensive Author’s Note about the life and work of Eugenie Clark as well as more information on sharks follows the text.

Heather Lang delves into the life’s work of a woman who fearlessly challenged herself and the prevailing science to increase our knowledge of sharks and change people’s perspective on these beautiful creatures. Readers will love Lang’s comprehensive storytelling—beginning with young Genie’s fascination with fish and the sea—that reveals the pivotal events which led to her discoveries. Fascinating anecdotes from Eugenie’s research and personal encounters with sharks will enthrall children, and the idea that there is much more to discover will resonated with young scientists in the making.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-swimming-with-sharks-looking-at-shark

Image copyright Jordi Solano, 2016, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

Jordi Solano takes readers to the depths of the ocean in his sea-green, atmospheric illustrations that beautifully mirror the world of sharks. Textured and layered images of marine plants and a variety of creatures give children an up-close view of Eugenie Clark’s work and the fish she encountered on her dives. Each type of shark is magnificently and realistically drawn, giving kids an idea of coloring, size, movement, and more. Children will also see Eugenie’s research facilities and the equipment she used in her studies.

For anyone interested in marine science, history, biographies, or the environment in general, Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark is a can’t-miss book.

Ages 5 – 9

Albert Whitman & Company, 2016 | ISBN 978-0807521878

Discover more about Heather Lang and her books on her website!

View a gallery of artwork by Jordi Solano on Plum Pudding Illustration!

National Wildlife Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fascinating-sharks-word-scramble

Fascinating Sharks Word Scramble

 

Read the clues and unscramble the names of 14 types of sharks in this printable Fascinating Sharks Word Scramble! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

July 12 – It’s Anti-Boredom Month

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About the Holiday

Bored? Already?! It’s only the middle of July, but I get it—there’s NOTHING to do! Well, how about learning a new craft? Maybe it’s a nice day for a walk. You could clean your room (No! Wait! What am I thinking?!) How about playing a board game—one you used to like or haven’t played in a while? Or, you could read a book! A trip to the library or bookstore is sure to solve those mid-summer blues!

Barnacle is Bored

By Jonathan Fenske

 

Even before Barnacle’s story truly begins he’s just hanging around the dock sighing. The trouble is Barnacle is “Bored. Bored. Bored.” Every day is the same old routine. When the tide is high, Barnacle is “wet and cold,” and when it goes out, he’s “dry and hot.” The sun rises; the sun sets. The waves “roll under” him or give him a good dousing of the briny deep, but no matter what’s going on Barnacle is stuck in place.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-barnacle-is-bored-under-dock

Copyright Jonathan Fenske, 2016, courtesy of jonathanfenske.com.

If only he were like the little polka dotted fish swimming by. Barnacle imagines what exciting days he must have. “I bet he dives with the dolphins” and “soars with the sailfish,” Barnacle muses. He dreams of the fun the fish has with flounder, finbacks, plankton, and…that eel doesn’t look like it wants to play with polka dot fish. Oh, no! Barnacle can’t look.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-barnacle-is-bored-polka-dot-fish

Copyright Jonathan Fenske, 2016, courtesy of jonathanfenske.com.

Yikes! Barnacle grimaces as eel swims away, full and satisfied. He retreats into his shell to reconsider and decides, “I am not bored.” But polka dot fish floating around inside eel? Yeah, he’s bored.

Jonathan Fenske takes the proverbial (shell)fish story to new, minimalistic lengths in his laugh-out-loud Barnacle is Bored. Fenske’s use of repetitive phrasing and funny alliteration highlights Barnacle’s tedium as well as his conviction that the sea is greener on the other side of the dock. When reality comes calling close to home, though, Barnacle—and young readers—discover that sometimes excitement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-barnacle-is-bored-here-I-sit

Copyright Jonathan Fenske, 2016, courtesy of jonathanfenske.com.

Fenske’s jaded Barnacle is an adorable dreamer even as he grumbles about his sticky situation. His expressive eyes and tiny tentacles that sway with the tides will make little ones giggle. With a soothing palette of ocean colors, Fenske creates fresh, crisp backdrops that emphasize both Barnacle’s feelings of monotony and his vivid imagination.

Barnacle is Bored is a perfect summertime treat that will elicit waves of requests for repeat readings. A great choice to take to the beach and on vacation, the book will not spend its time stuck on the shelf.

Ages 3 – 5

Scholastic Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0545865043

Discover a gallery of books and illustration by Jonathan Fenske on his website!

Anti-Boredom Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mind-jar

Mesmerizing Mindfulness Jar

 

You can capture the beauty of the glittering sea in this easy craft. Make one for yourself and for a special friend!

Supplies

  • Small to medium mason jar or other decorative jar with a tight lid
  • White glitter glue,
  • Light blue glitter glue,
  • Fine white and/or blue glitter
  • Large white and/or blue glitter
  • Warm water

Directions

1.For every 1/2 cup of warm water add:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon blue glitter glue
  • 2 teaspoons fine glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon large glitter

2. Close lid tightly

3. Shake

4. As glue dissolves, the liquid will become clearer and the glitter will remain suspended in it

Picture Book Review

 

June 22 – It’s World Oceans Month

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About the Holiday

This month we celebrate the wondrously diverse life in the sea. A majority of the earth’s surface is covered in water and yet we know only a fraction of what the oceans have to show us. With new technology scientists are diving deeper and deeper, where some of the most unique creatures in the world are waiting to be discovered. To join in on this month’s holiday, visit a beach or aquarium, learn more about the animals and resources of the sea, and consider donating to the preservation of the world’s oceans.

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt

By Ben Clanton

 

In A Super Start, Narwhal and Jelly are hanging out. Narwhal’s excited because after a swim and a waffle he’s “going to become a superhero!” Jelly is surprised that Narwhal thinks it would be so easy, after all there are the “super outfits” (Narwhal’s got that covered with a snazzy yellow cape); the “super names” (“Super Narwhal” sounds pretty super to Narwhal): and the secret identities (let me introduce you to the dapper mustachioed and bespectacled Clark Parker Wayne, wealthy and eccentric trillionaire).

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-super-narwhal-and-jelly-jolt-cape

Excerpted from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton. Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Ben Clanton. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Super Narwhal is also going to need a sidekick. Jelly kicks around a few names—Shark, Octopus, and Turtle—but Narwhal has someone else in mind. Jelly, of course! Jelly’s eyes widen with the possibilities. Sting or Blue Lightening might be cool monikers, but no!— “Jelly Jolt the Super Sidekick” has an electrifying ring to it. Suddenly, Jelly remembers they’ll need superpowers. Narwhal has trouble being invisible or strong, flying or breathing fire, but there’s something even more important than powers—lunch! Yum, yum! Jelly says, “I think waffles are my super weakness.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-super-narwhal-and-jelly-jolt-super-sidekick

Excerpted from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton. Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Ben Clanton. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

In Narwhal, You’re a Superstar, Super Narwhal has come to the rescue of Star. While Star likes the ocean she thinks that maybe she belongs in the sky. “Maybe I am a real star, but I fell to earth and hit my head or something and now I don’t remember!” she says. Narwhal’s up for helping out, but without super strength he can only toss Star back into the sea. Even with Octopus’s cannon, Narwhal is no more successful. They think about building a rocket ship, but neither is exactly a rocket scientist. Then Narwhal has a super idea. Star wishes on…herself…and “Poof!” Star is back where she belongs.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-super-narwhal-and-jelly-jolt-eat-lunch

Excerpted from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton. Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Ben Clanton. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Super Narwhal vs Blue Jelly a.k.a. the Super Superpower finds Clark Parker Wayne, wealthy and eccentric trillionaire discovering a very blue (as in sad) Jelly. In a jiff Super Narwhal appears to save the day! He asks Jelly “What’s wrong? Did someone steal your mustache?” But Jelly’s too blue to join in the repartee. Then Super Narwhal wonders if Jelly’s upset because he set his hair on fire. Jelly seems a bit perturbed at that suggestion—they are underwater, after all. But maybe Super Narwhal is onto something.

Maybe, just maybe, Jelly’s down because a bubble called him “a blue-footed booby,” or because a pirate pig poked him, or because he “got stuck in a tuba!” With a “hee” and a “heehee!” and a “heeheehee!” Jelly is beginning to smile. And when Super Narwhal puts them all together, Jelly can’t help but jiggle with a laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing is. But Super Narwhal is there to help—right? So he somberly asks “what is wrong?” By now, though, Jelly can’t remember.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-super-narwhal-and-jelly-jolt-kapow

Excerpted from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton. Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Ben Clanton. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Jelly gives his Super Friend a super hug. But then he does recall the problem. It seems crab was dissing his superhero outfit and calling him “Jelly Dolt.” “This is a job for Jelly Jolt and Super Narwhal!”, exclaims Narwhal. Jelly’s intrigued, but thinks they ought to leave crab alone. Guided by advice from his “great, great, great, great grandpa Nautilus,” which went something like “Do unto otters,” however, Narwhal reveals that they are off to make crab a superhero.

When they get their, though, Crab isn’t feeling it and lets off some steam, but Super Narwhal is undeterred. “Ahoy Crab! Prepare to be super-fied!” he announces. And with a KAPOW! Crab has become “The Claw! a.k.a. Super Snap!” At last, Super Narwhal has discovered his superpower—the ability to “bring out the super in others.” And with that, Super Narwhal, Jelly Jolt, and Super Snap swim off to Superfy the ocean.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-super-narwhal-and-jelly-jolt-superfy

Excerpted from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton. Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Ben Clanton. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Two more short and funny stories make an appearance between the continuing saga of Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt. Super Sea Creatures is loaded with facts on several types of ocean creatures, and Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick is a delectable comic written by Narwhal and Jelly that’s full danger, heroics, and puns.

Ben Clanton’s adorable Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt, the second in the Narwhal and Jelly series, is a sweet, laugh-inducing romp that is a marvelous take-off on the superhero genre and a perfect way to spend free time with two worthy ocean friends. Clanton fills his comics-style story with plenty of suspense, witty repartee, good advice, and even a bit of science to satisfy any young reader. Narwhal and Jelly, with their eager, inviting smiles, enthusiasm to tackle whatever obstacles get in their way and their ready inclusiveness, are truly superheroes to applauded

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt would make a sunny addition to summer reading and a splash on any child’s home bookshelf.

Ages 6 – 9

Tundra Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1101918296

Discover more about Ben Clanton, his books, and his artwork on his website!

Play along with Narwhal and Jelly on their own website!

National Oceans Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-painted-pails

Playful Plastic Pail

 

With a colorful plastic pail, some paint, and a little sealant, you can make a pail for the beach or sandbox that is as unique as you are!

Supplies

  • Plastic Pail
  • Paint that will adhere to plastic
  • Sealant for plastics
  • Paint brushes

Directions

  1. Create your design
  2. Paint your pail, let dry
  3. When the paint is dry, spray with sealant. Apply sealant in a well-ventilated place
  4. Let sealant dry
  5. Enjoy your pail!

Picture Book Review

May 10 – Mother Ocean Day

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About the Holiday

Established in 2013 by the South Florida Kayak Fishing Club, Mother Ocean Day honors the beauty and wonder of the oceans and the fascinating creatures that live in them. It’s estimated that nearly one quarter of the earth’s species live in the world’s five oceans. To join in the celebration take a break and visit a beach near you to swim, snorkel, surf, or go boating.

Giant Squid

Written by Candace Fleming | Illustrated by Eric Rohmann

 

“Down, down in the depths of the sunless sea, deep, deep in the cold, cold dark, creatures, strange and fearsome, lurk.” These mysteries of the ocean silently glide undetected, even though some are as “large as buses” and weigh a ton. They are known only from the quickest of glances or by parts washed up on shore. Many questions remain unanswered, but little by little scientists are learning more about the Giant Squid.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-giant-squid-waiting

Image copyright Eric Rohmann, text copyright Candance Fleming. Courtesy of Roaring Brook Press

When a Giant Squid is hungry it reaches its two tentacles into the ocean waters “curling and twisting and thirty feet long, waiting for—a passing fish…another squid…anything swimming by.” When the Giant Squid grabs its prey, the tentacle’s “suckers ringed with saw-like teeth” immobilize it, and with the help of eight arms the meal is fed into the squid’s sharp beak.

The parrot-like beak is just the beginning, for within the giant squid’s mouth lies a muscle “covered with sharp, tiny blades that slice…grind…file the food into a pasty sludge easy for giant squid to digest.” How does the giant squid see prey swimming by? It has the largest eyes on the planet—“some as big as soccer balls.” With these eyes the squid can see the tiniest flashes of light as sea creatures navigate the black depths. The squid’s gigantic eyes protect it, too, from whales or other predators on the hunt.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-giant-squid-tentacles

Image copyright Eric Rohmann, text copyright Candance Fleming. Courtesy of Roaring Brook Press

The giant squid is capable of changing colors, even patterns. Why? No one knows. Perhaps it enjoys changing its appearance “to impress a mate.” The birth cycle is also a mystery. Scientists have yet to discover where females lay their eggs or how long they take to hatch. But once they do, the baby squid are little—“just two inches long.” They have to scurry away from the barracuda wanting a snack, but in a flume of ink they vanish!

Before readers even turn to the first page, Candace Fleming sets a chilling, atmospheric tone that sinks them into the depths of the ocean on flat, black pages, where writhing arms and tentacles creep into view threatening the white, lyrical text. As the story opens and begins to describe the tentacles, beak, and other physical attributes of the giant squid, Eric Rohmann’s brilliant illustrations grow in size, giving readers close-up views of the brutal beauty of this eerie sea creature.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-giant-squid-big-eye

Image copyright Eric Rohmann, text copyright Candance Fleming. Courtesy of Roaring Brook Press

Working in perfect concert, Fleming and Rohmann take kids on a deep, deep ocean dive to witness firsthand what very few humans have ever seen. Fleming’s gripping rhythm will have children riveted to her thrilling vocabulary that describes the drama of the giant squid’s existence in unforgettable terms. Rohmann’s color palette consists of murky blues and blacks and raw pinks and reds. The squid’s tentacles loop and slither across the page divulging their serrated suckers; the enormous eye stares out questioningly at the reader; and the fearsome beak will make more than a few readers shrink back in awe. A double foldout spread reveals the immensity of the giant squid for a brief glimpse before it disappears back into its mysterious realm.

Following the text, readers can study an illustration of a giant squid that is clearly labeled with detailed descriptions of the various parts of its body, read more about the sea creature, and find resources for further investigations.

For kids fascinated by the ocean and its denizens, budding marine or environmental scientists, or those who love an exhilarating story, Giant Squid is nonfiction at its best. The book deserves prominent placement in public and school libraries and would be a terrific gift or addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 6 – 10

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1596435995

Discover more about Candace Fleming and her books on her website!

Learn more about Eric Rohmann, his books, and his art on his website!

Mother Ocean Day Activity

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Beautiful Ocean Coloring Page

 

There are so many varied creatures in the earth’s oceans! Grab your pencils or crayons and make this printable Beautiful Ocean Coloring Page as vibrant as the sea!

Picture Book Review

April 23 – World Book and Copyright Day

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About the Holiday

Sponsored by UNESCO, World Book and Copyright Day encourages families and individuals to rediscover the joys of reading and promotes the availability of a wide range of books in all languages and for the disabled. It is also an opportunity to highlight the power of books to promote our vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens. Each year publishers, booksellers, and libraries choose a World Book Capitol for a one-year period. This year Conakry, Guinea was selected in part “on account of the quality and diversity of its program, in particular its focus on community involvement.”

You can get involved too! Why not start today? With so many amazing books to discover, reading daily is a luxury worth indulging. For kids, there may be no cozier or more comforting routine than snuggling up next to mom or dad or cuddling under the covers and getting lost in a wonderful story before falling asleep.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Wish Williams

 

As twilight paints the sky pink, purple, and gold, Little Sea Otter gets ready to sleep in her kelp forest bed. Mama Otter fluffs her baby’s fur and snuggles with her, but Little Otter is still wide awake. “‘I forgot to say goodnight to the harbor seals,’” she tells Mama. The baby waves her “soft, silky paw toward the rocky shore” and says goodnight. The harbor seals all along the craggy cliffs wish the little otter goodnight in return.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Hearing the seals’ goodnight song, the sea lions join in, their loud barks echoing in the air. “‘Good night, father sea lions. Good night, mother sea lions and baby sea lions,’” Little Otter calls. Curious about all the commotion, a seagull swoops down and learns that it’s bedtime for Little Otter. The two say “Good night” to each other, and as the seagull flies away to find his own place to sleep, Mama Otter tries to tuck in her little pup.

“But before she could say another word, Little Sea Otter dipped her furry face into the chilly water.” There she sees a whole ocean full of fish to greet. She says “Good night” to the yellow fish, the orange fish, and the purple fish. Of course she can’t forget the long fish or the short fish, the striped fish or the spotted fish either. All these fish are happy to wish the tiny pup sweet dreams too. Mama Otter points out other sea creatures getting ready for bed—different types of crabs, snails, sea stars, anemones, clams, and more. Little Otter says “Good night” to each in turn.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopuses, rays, jelly fish, sea horses, eels, and others bubble a chorus of “Good night” to Little Otter. She listens and responds to each one and then asks Mama if she has forgotten anyone. “‘Yes, you did,’” Mama says, “scooping her up in her paws. ‘You missed ME!’” Little Otter giggles and says “Good night.” Mama Otter hugs her tight and rolls over and over in the kelp, wrapping them both “in ribbons of seaweed” that will keep them secure on the ocean currents as they sleep.

Little Otter gazes up into the night sky and says “Good night” to the moon and the stars. As Little Otter’s eyes finally close and she drifts into sleep, Mama kisses her gently on the head and the sea whispers, “‘rock-a-bye.’”

Little Otter’s repeated phrase of “Good night” gives children plenty of opportunities to read along. Kids and adults who enjoy the beach and marine environments will also be delighted in the scientific facts about sea otters organically sprinkled into the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-all-ocean-creatures

Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Janet Halfmann’s gentle bedtime story is a sweet reminder for children of all the people in their life who love them and are thinking of them every day. As Little Sea Otter puts off sleep with just one more “Good night” and then another and another, Halfmann reveals with lyrical language the wide world of the sea and the creatures in it. Mama’s patient support of her pup’s curiosity and connections to her world provide tender moments between mother and child, as do their final bedtime rituals before drifting off to sleep. The readiness of the ocean creatures to respond with their own heartfelt wishes for the little pup suggest that this is a nightly and eagerly anticipated ending to each day by all.

Wish Williams’ beautiful, vivid illustrations are stunning and detailed, offering a magical realism that is perfect for this book’s wide-eyed audience. Little Otter and her sea creature friends are adorable, their smiling faces glowing with their happiness to see each other and finish the day together. While the fish and other sea creatures are colorful, the hues are true to their natural counterparts. The blue-green ocean swirls and foams along the rocky shore at twilight while whitecaps glitter in starlight when the sun goes down.

The lovely nature of the mother/child relationship, opportunities for child participation, and gorgeous art make Good Night, Little Sea Otter a welcome addition to home bookshelves for quiet story times and bedtime.

Ages 2 – 6

Star Bright Books, 2010 | ISBN 978-1595722546 (English Edition).

Star Bright Books offers Good Night, Little Sea Otter in bilingual editions in 8 other languages. To view them click here.

Learn more about Janet Halfmann and her other books on her website!

World Book and Copyright Day Activity

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Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page

 

Say “Good night” to these sweet sea otters before going to bed by coloring this printable Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

March 8 – International Women’s Day

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About the Holiday

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1909 during a time of great change and increasing industrialization that saw more and more women demanding equality in working hours, pay, safety, voting rights and more with their male counterparts. Women across the globe are still fighting for these rights. This year’s theme is Be Bold For Change (#BeBoldForChange), and reminds us that we must always be vigilant in securing and keeping equal rights for all.

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark

Written by Heather Lang | Illustrated by Jordi Solano

 

When young Eugenie Clark pressed her face against the aquarium window at the sharks swimming by, she did not see “piercing eyes…rows of sharp teeth…vicious, bloodthirsty killers.” Instead she saw “sleek, graceful fish” and dreamed of being inside the tank to swim among them. She loved to spend Saturdays at the New York Aquarium sharing her knowledge of fish with visitors. She wished there was more information available about sharks and hoped for a day when she could learn more about them.

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Image copyright Jordi Solano, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

At home her mother bought Genie her own little fish tank, and soon the whole apartment was full of fish and reptiles. Genie kept careful notes on her pets as she tried to answer her many questions. William Beebe, a famous scientist who studied fish, was Genie’s hero. She too wished to explore the ocean like he did. But this was the 1930s and not many people “dared to study the depths of the sea, and none were women.” Eugenie’s mother suggested she study typing and try to become Beebe’s secretary. The life of a secretary was not what Genie had in mind.

Eugenie received a Master’s Degree in zoology, and when a well-known ichthyologist offered her a job as his research assistant and an opportunity to take oceanography classes, she moved to California. There she collected fish and water samples. The beauty of the underwater world astonished her. In the lab she was able to dissect a swell shark to learn “how and why it puffs up.” But Genie wanted to dive deeper—to swim with sharks.

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Image copyright Jordi Solano, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

One day, Genie’s professor allowed her to try helmet diving. Wearing the heavy metal helmet, Genie was able to descend into the cold, murky deep where kelp forests waved with the current. “In 1949 the US Navy hired Genie to study poisonous fish in the South Seas. As she collected fish, she came face to face with a shark. The shark swam closer and closer then suddenly dove and disappeared out of sight. Genie was thrilled by the encounter.

In 1955 Eugenie moved to Florida and opened the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, becoming the first to study sharks in their natural environment. The more she studied sharks, the more she realized that they were intelligent creatures, not stupid “eating machines” as most people thought. She wondered if sharks could be trained.

Eugenie set up an experiment in which a shark needed to press a white board to receive a reward a short swim away. Soon, the female shark of the pair realized that if the male shark pressed the board, she could swim to retrieve the reward. The pair remembered the exercise even after a ten-week break. Soon, scientists from around the world wanted to work with Genie. 

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Image copyright Jordi Solano, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

Word reached her about “‘sleeping sharks,’” off the coast of Mexico. Instead of swimming around, these sharks stayed on the ocean floor. Eugenie was determined to learn how they breathed without moving. She dived deep into their territory, finding a requiem shark in an ocean cave. Here, she was face-to-face with one of the most feared fish in the sea. Genie swallowed any worry and watched as the fish opened and closed its mouth, providing itself with oxygen as a remora fish cleaned its gills.

Genie took water samples and completed other tests that revealed astonishing facts about the ocean caves and the habits of sharks. But while Genie was learning the facts about these mysterious sea creatures, most people still feared them and considered them with suspicion and superstition. As time went by, Genie began seeing fewer and fewer sharks on her dives. They were being killed out of fear, for their fins, and because people thought it would make beaches safer.

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Image copyright Jordi Solano, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

Genie began talking about her research, and people listened. “Dr. Eugenie Clark had become one of the most respected fish scientists in the world.” She taught people that there is always more to learn and “always more surprises.”

An extensive Author’s Note about the life and work of Eugenie Clark as well as more information on sharks follows the text.

Heather Lang delves into the life’s work of a woman who fearlessly challenged herself and the prevailing science to increase our knowledge of sharks and change people’s perspective on these beautiful creatures. Readers will love Lang’s comprehensive storytelling—beginning with young Genie’s fascination with fish and the sea—that reveals the pivotal events which led to her discoveries. Fascinating anecdotes from Eugenie’s research and personal encounters with sharks will enthrall children, and the idea that there is much more to discover will resonated with young scientists in the making.

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Image copyright Jordi Solano, courtesy of plumpuddingillustration.com

Jordi Solano takes readers to the depths of the ocean in his sea-green, atmospheric illustrations that beautifully mirror the world of sharks. Textured and layered images of marine plants and a variety of creatures give children an up-close view of Eugenie Clark’s work and the fish she encountered on her dives. Each type of shark is magnificently and realistically drawn, giving kids an idea of coloring, size, movement, and more. Children will also see Eugenie’s research facilities and the equipment she used in her studies.

For anyone interested in marine science, history, biographies, or the environment in general, Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark is a can’t-miss book.

Ages 5 – 9

Albert Whitman & Company, 2016 | ISBN 978-0807521878

Discover more about Heather Lang and her books on her website!

View a gallery of artwork by Jordi Solano on Plum Pudding Illustration!

International Women’s Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fascinating-sharks-word-scramble

Fascinating Sharks Word Scramble

 

Read the clues and unscramble the names of 14 types of sharks in this printable Fascinating Sharks Word Scramble! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review