April 1 – Reading is Funny Day

celebrate-picturebooks-picture-book-review-narwhal's-otter-friend-coverAbout the Holiday

Nothing’s better than hearing the giggles and guffaws of a child reading a funny book! And thanks to today’s holiday, that sound can echo through homes, classrooms, libraries, and other places all day long. It’s easy to celebrate too. Just head out to your library or local bookstore and find some funny books to share. You can even raid your own bookshelves for some old favorites. Or do a bit of both and enjoy the newest in a much-loved series—like today’s book.

Narwhal’s Otter Friend (A Narwhal and Jelly Book)

By Ben Clanton

 

Narwhal and Jelly are back with new adventures in this fourth book of Ben Clanton’s beloved series. As the action begins, Narwhal and Jelly are swimming along when they meet Otty, an otter who’s excited to recognize Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea. Otty is no ordinary otter. It turns out she has “partied with penguins…and surfed with seals.” Otty “even met a mermaid once.” And one day she played with all three together.

Well, Narwhal thinks these escapes sound “Fantastic!” “Tubular!” and “Mer-aculous!” Jelly, though, is more skeptical, so when Narwhal suggests having an adventure with Otty, he’s shocked. Especially when the list of gear they’re going to bring along includes waffles.

celebrate-picturebooks-picture-book-review-narwhal's-otter-friend-dude

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2019, courtesy of Tundra Books.

The action takes a break for some “Otterly Aww-some Facts” about this favorite sea and river cutie, and Jelly sneaks in some pretty cool facts about jellyfish as well. During the break, Jelly’s feelings have turned into a black cloud of jealousy. He determines that he will also find a new friend and invites Turtle to eat waffles with him. Turtle is already committed to her friend Shelly’s “Birthday Shellebration,” though, so Jelly keeps looking. Shark and Octopus have plans to play ball, and Mr. Blowfish is too busy talking on his “shell phone” to speak to Jelly.

Jelly’s beginning to despair of ever finding a new friend when he spots Crab grumping on the bottom of the ocean. Jelly floats down there and tries to cheer Crab up with a joke, but his response is: “Scram, Smelly.” Jelly tells him that even the rock lying nearby would make a better friend, and that’s when he has an idea. Jelly decides that Rocky is going to be “one rock-solid friend.”

What’s a Narwhal and Jelly book without the adventures of Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick? Fortunately, you don’t have to find out as Jelly and Rocky come up with a new episode: Strawberry Sidekick vs. The dEVILed EGG. Just as they’re finishing this egg-citing story, Narwhal and Otter swim up. Seems they’ve been looking all over for Jelly. When they hear about all the fun Jelly and Rocky have been having, they greet Rocky enthusiastically, and Otty thinks he’s “one rocking rock!” Jelly asks them what they’ve been doing.

Narwhal and Otty reveal their plans to take an adventure into space and have a party on the moon. Afterward, they’re going to “surf down a rainbow,” and then probably do something with waffles. Jelly would love to do all of those things. But Narwhal tells him there’s something important missing before they can begin. Can you guess what that is?

celebrate-picturebooks-picture-book-review-narwhal's-otter-friend-otter-facts

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2019, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Narwhal’s Otter Friend is the book that fans of this ocean duo knew they needed. Full of emotion, suspense, adorableness, puns, and—of course—waffles, the fourth Narwhal and Jelly book introduces readers to the sweetest otter in the ocean. Kids will love her spunk and imagination while also understanding Jelly’s bout of jealousy. And although they may wonder if maaaybee Narwhal has found a better friend, they know deep in their heart that these two stick together through everything and that the ocean is big enough for three…four…and even more friends.

Ages 6 – 9

Tundra Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-0735262485

To learn more about Ben Clanton, his books, and his art and to find awesome printable activities visit his website.

Reading Is Funny Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-reading-bookworm

Comical Card Games

 

Not only is it Reading is Funny Day but it’s April Fools Day too! Here are some funny printable reading and joke-based card games for you to enjoy with your friends or family! They’re courtesy of the American Library Association, and you can find more fun activities to download on their website!

Cut the cards apart, shuffle them, and lay them in rows face side down to play a memory game. Just start with one and try to find its funny mate. If the cards don’t match put them back and try again until you’ve paired up all the questions with their answers.

Talking Turnip Playing Cards | Loony Library Playing Cards

celebrate-picturebooks-picture-book-review-narwhal's-otter-friend-cover

You can find Narwhal’s Otter Friend at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

April 23 – World Book and Copyright Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-cover

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-mama-fluffing-pup's-fur

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-harbor-seals

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sleep-sea-otters-coloring-page

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

September 30 – International Translation Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-cover

About the Holiday

Established in 1953 by the International Federation of Translators, today’s holiday celebrates the translators in every language who work to break down barriers and bring great literature to all people across the globe. Everyone’s story matters, and it is through access to a wide range of books that readers acquire deeper understanding of the commonalities and unique experiences that make us all citizens of the world. For children in bilingual and multicultural homes the ability to read and hear books in their native tongue as well as their adopted language is especially comforting and promotes greater literacy and language learning. With eight bilingual editions available, today’s book is a great example of the importance of translators’ work!

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-mama-fluffing-pup's-fur

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-harbor-seals

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

From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopi, 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.’”

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. 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.

One might imagine that in addition to “Good night” Little Otter’s nightly repertoire includes the request to be told all the names of the fish and sea animals, just as children love to look through pictures of family and friends and learn their names. 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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-spanish-translation

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

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.

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. 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.

Translations

Star Bright Books also publishes Good Night, Little Sea Otter in eight bilingual editions. For information on each click on the links below:

Arabic/English | Burmese/English | Burmese Karen/English | French/English | Hmong/EnglishNavajo/English | Portuguese/English | Spanish/English

Ages 2 – 6

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

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

International Translation Day Activity

We Are All Family English/Spanish Word Search

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-are-all-family-word-search

Find the names of family members in both English and Spanish in this printable heart- shaped We Are All Family Word Search! Here’s the Solution!

 

Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sleep-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

June 12 – National Rivers Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-otters-love-to-play

About the Holiday

Rivers are beautiful, provide recreation, and are crucial to our water supply. Did you know that in the United States 65% of our drinking water comes from rivers and streams? This month environmentalists and others promote awareness of the importance of keeping the nation’s rivers pollution free to protect the fish and animals that call them home and increase enjoyment for all. To help the cause, join a volunteer river clean-up crew, help monitor water quality, or learn more about your local river system. Whether you like to fish, swim, boat, or just laze on the bank, June is the perfect month to get out on a river! You might even see some otters—the subject of today’s book!

Otters Love to Play

Written by Jonathan London | Illustrated by Meilo So

 

It’s spring and two otters have moved into an abandoned beaver lodge to start a family. In a soft nest of moss, leaves, and grass the mother otter gives birth to three pups. The pups first open their eyes to the world when they are five weeks old. At two months old they’re ready to come out of the den to play. Playtime is fun, but for the baby otters it’s also work. Running, twisting, wrestling, and matches of tug-of-war teach valuable hunting skills and solidify family bonds.

As spring turns to summer, the pups’ thick waterproof coats grow in, and it’s time for swimming lessons to begin. There are no floaties here! The mother otter simply grabs her charges by the scruff of the neck and drops them into the river. Their mother shows them how to dive and glide and come to the surface as they follow her single file. “Within days, the otter pups gracefully spin and flip and swish like underwater acrobats.” Again and again “they scramble up a mud slide and SLIIIIIIIIIIIDE back down to the water—Ka-Spash!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-otters-love-to-play-in-autumn

By the end of the summer the pups know how to catch small fish and how to nudge out frogs, crayfish, turtles, and snakes from their hiding places among the rocks. Autumn brings more opportunities for fun as the nearly full-grown pups tumble in the fallen leaves. Even winter’s blasts don’t deter the otters. With their thick fur they roll in the snow and catch fish in the icy river water.

But an ominous shadow appears on the fresh snow as the pups belly-slide down a snowbank. Something is waiting and watching…. So too is mother otter. Screaming and hunching she “slides across the snow and with a terrible GRRRROWL…scares the fox away!” Throughout the winter the otters snuggle in their den, and when the rainy spring makes muddy river banks, the otters come out and speed down the slippery slide “because otters love to play!”

You can’t help but love otters. Watching them dive, swim, and frolic just puts a smile on your face. And what’s more these sleek river creatures are fascinating animals! Jonathon London has written a story that captures the spirit and exuberance of one otter family while incorporating intriguing facts about their dens, birth statistics, purposeful play, hunting techniques, protective fur, predators, and defenses—did you know that otters can slide on snow at speeds up to 18 miles (29 kilometers) per hour?! London’s lyrical journey through the first year of an otter’s life makes captivating reading for young children just navigating the world themselves.

Meilo So’s enchanting otter family will delight readers. Images of the pups somersaulting, sliding, splashing, and swimming charmingly depict the sleek, supple movements of these frisky animals. Their smooth coats, rendered in soft browns with white and black accented texture, and their mischievous, ever-present smiles are realistically portrayed, inviting kids to reach out and pet them. So’s river scenes are beautiful—the pale blue water reflects deep gold and green trees, pink and yellow wildflowers and delicate green grasses flutter along the river bank, and the depths of the underwater world swirl with muted sage greens and blues as the otter pups frolic among gray- and olive-hued fish. Autumn comes with fiery orange and purple leaves, and winter falls shivery white as the russet fox is chased away.

Otters Love to Play would be a lovely gift for any child and a welcome addition to any classroom or school library.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0763669133

Visit Jonathan London’s website for more books by this prolific author.

View more books and art by Meilo So.

National Rivers Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-otter-coloring-page

Otter Coloring Page

 

You “otter” love this coloring page, with its cute river creature who has just caught dinner! You can color it with pencils, crayons, or markers or consider making a collage with bits of paper, cloth, or leaves and sticks. Give the otter a den to snuggle in and a river for frolicking! Here’s your Otter Coloring Page!