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.

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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!

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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

February 18 – It’s Boost Your Self-Esteem Month

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About the Holiday

This month we celebrate self-esteem—that inner knowledge of and appreciation for all the things that make you unique! Having a good self-image is important for living a full and happy life. Taking time now and then to evaluate your feelings, your achievements, and your goals is a worthy exercise. When you believe in yourself you can accomplish more, and like the friends in today’s book you’ll feel like a superhero!

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 you need 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!

Boost Your Self-Esteem Month Activity

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All about Me!

 

The more you know about yourself, the better you’ll be able to share your talents and friendship with others. Fill out one of these printable All about Me! sheets and hang it in your room or school locker to remind yourself how awesome you are!

All about Me! Robot Sheet | All about Me! Stars and Balloons Sheet

Picture Book Review

November 3 – World Jellyfish Day

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About the Holiday

Jellyfish may be some of the most fascinating creatures in the sea, and they are certainly among the most beautiful. Often seen in groups—called swarms, blooms, or smacks—these ancient ocean invertebrates can be transparent, yellow, red, blue, and even effervescent. Jellyfish capture prey and defend themselves by emitting toxins through painful stings. To celebrate today’s holiday, visit a local aquarium or—if you live in a climate where jellyfish are present at this time of year, head to the beach to watch them in their natural habitat.

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka

 

Peanut Butter, a little seahorse, and Jellyfish were best friends who loved to explore the ocean and all its treasures together. Unfortunately, their adventures always seemed to take them past Crabby, “who would taunt as they slipped by, ‘You guys swim like humans.’” Jellyfish and Peanut Butter tried to ignore him, pretending they didn’t hear his hurtful jibes, but “Crabby was relentless. ‘You guys smell like rotten barnacles! Pee-yew!’” He compared them unflatteringly to sea slugs and his grandmother’s “run-walk shoes,” and ended with “what a bunch of bubbleheads!”

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Copyright Jarrett J. Krosoczka, 2014, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Jellyfish bravely stood up to Crabby, saying, “‘driftwood and sea stones may break our bones, but names will never hurt us.’” Of course, Crabby had a retort to that which involved the fact that Jellyfish was an invertebrate. One day, as Peanut Butter and Jellyfish passed Crabby’s house on their way to the big reef, they steeled themselves for the insults to come. But all they heard was quiet – until the sounds of sobbing reached their ears.

They swam on and found Crabby trapped in a lobster pot that was being pulled to the surface of the water. He called out to them that he was scared. Jellyfish and Peanut Butter looked at each other. Was it their responsibility to help Crabby? Peanut Butter thought that his situation looked pretty serious. And Jellyfish agreed. He even had a plan.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jellyfish-crabby

Copyright Jarrett J. Krosoczka, 2014, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

The two friends swam up to the lobster trap, and Peanut Butter wrapped his tail around a slat in the door. When he pulled it open, however, Crabby didn’t move. Peanut Butter wanted him to hurry, but Crabby had a confession to make. He couldn’t swim, and he was afraid of heights. Now, Jellyfish had an idea.

He swam to the top of the lobster trap and with all his tentacles working feverishly, he tried to untie the knot in the rope. The trap was coming closer and closer to the fisherman’s boat. Just in the nick of time, the knot loosened, but then Crabby was hurtling to the bottom of the ocean. Peanut Butter and Jellyfish raced to catch it. “They grabbed ahold and lowered it to safety.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jellyfish-taunts

Copyright Jarrett J. Krosoczka, 2014, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Crabby felt weak as he returned to his rock, but he stuttered out a thank you to Jellyfish and Peanut Butter. Then he told them that he was sorry for all the things he had said. “Crabby may have been afraid of heights, but he was brave enough to apologize.” Crabby admitted that he may have felt jealous of all the fun Peanut Butter and Jellyfish had “exploring the open waters.” Jellyfish told Crabby that there was “plenty to explore close to the ocean floor” too. In fact, that’s where “they found their greatest treasure.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jellyfish-lobster-trap

Copyright Jarrett J. Krosoczka, 2014, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s seafaring friendship story for little ones uses humor and a generosity of spirit to teach kids a lesson about empathy. Readers may giggle over Crabby’s taunts, but they will also understand the hurt they cause Peanut Butter and Jellyfish. Following this, the kindness showed by Peanut Butter and Jellyfish toward Crabby when he is in trouble then comes as a powerfully surprising message on compassion. Crabby’s willingness to admit his fears, own up to his jealousy, and apologize, as well as the trio’s growing friendship, provides many thought-provoking topics for children to consider.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jellyfish-wobbly

Copyright Jarrett J. Krosoczka, 2014, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Krosoczka’s illustrations of the undersea world give readers plenty of details to enjoy while adorable Peanut Butter and Jellyfish take center stage. When their sweet smiles give way to wary looks, kids will know trouble is on its way. Each scene during Crabby’s entrapment and escape provide gentle suspense while demonstrating the story’s themes of understanding and acceptance. As the three explore a chest overflowing with gold in the final spread, readers can debate what the “greatest treasure” is.

Ages 3 – 7

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014 | ISBN 978-0375870361

Discover more about Jarrett J. Krosoczka, his books, and his art on his website.

World Jellyfish Day Activity

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Jellyfish Coloring Page

 

Watching a jellyfish float on the ocean current can be mesmerizing! Grab your colored pencils, markers, or crayons—and maybe some glitter too—and enjoy this printable Jellyfish Coloring Page!

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

 

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.

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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.

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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

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

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 4 – National Grammar Day

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About the Holiday

I must confess that today’s holiday is one of my favorites. Even as a kid I howled at the unintentional ridiculousness misplaced punctuation and poor editing created and absolutely loved diagramming sentences (I know, right?!). While the rules of grammar in any language may sometimes seem confusing and unnecessary, they help structure the language so what you write and say makes sense and exactly states your meaning. National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by author Martha Brockenbrough, the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

Little White Fish Is So Happy

By Guido Van Genechten

 

Little White Fish has been swimming on his own, but is so happy that his “mom is coming to get him.” Before he leaves, however, he wants to say “goodbye” to his many friends. “Bye-bye, snail in the shell,” he burbles. The “frog on the rock” also receives a happy “goodbye.” Little seahorse is playing under a leaf, but Little White Fish spies him.

Crab waves from behind a stone as Little White Fish swims by, and goldfish smiles at him from his spot “between the reeds.” As Little White Fish sends his friends a final farewell, they all stand “next to each other” to see him off. The best part of going home for Little White Fish, though, may be getting to swim “in front of” his mom!

In Little White Fish Is So Happy, young grammarians are introduced to a few of the most common prepositions, with clear visuals to reinforce their meaning. Bold type prompts adult readers to emphasize the prepositions and to expand on the idea by pointing out how the words apply to each particular sea creature. The endearing relationship among these friends will charm young children as the idea of being away from home is presented in an upbeat way that encourages independence while also reassuring little ones of parents’ love and attention.

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Well Done, Little White Fish

By Guido Van Genechten

 

Little White Fish is visiting his friends. First up is crab who is “can cut sea grass with his claws.” This is a pretty cool talent, and Little White Fish wonders what he can do. Turtle is strong enough to carry a rock on his shell, and “sea urchin easily does seven somersaults in a row. And Little White Fish? What can he do?”

Wow! Little jellyfish “can light up the dark.” Little White Fish is astonished; he knows he can’t do that. Starfish is like a ballet dancer when she stands on one leg. “Little White Fish doesn’t even have legs….” Little White Fish knows he must watch out for Octopus when he spits out ink, and he likes playing over and under with sea snake when he makes “a beautiful arch.

And Little White Fish? He “can swim really well, even backwards and upside down!” Now it’s time for his friends to be amazed, and as Little White Fish swims around his group of friends, they all cheer and applaud his special talent.

Well Done, Little White Fish explores individuality as the small fish watches each of his friends demonstrate their talents. At first everyone seems to be cleverer, stronger, and more agile than he is, but when Little White Fish displays his swimming skills, he learns that he too is unique. Bold text points out each creature’s special ability and can also serve as a gentle lesson about verbs. Van Genechten’s adorable sea creatures, with their ready smiles and buoyant enthusiasm, will delight young children as they learn facts about nature while embracing these characters.

Guido Van Genechten’s Little White Fish books, including Little White Fish, Little White Fish Has a Party, and Little White Fish Has Many Friends, make a sweet series for the youngest readers. The spare text is lively and cheerful and makes use of the type of repetition that little ones respond to. The bold, multicolored and multilayered illustrations set on a black background are eye-catching. Small children will love the smiling sea creatures and the playful relationship among the friends.

Ages 2 – 5

Clavis Publishing, 2017

Little White Fish Is So Happy | ISBN 978-1605373263

Well Done, Little White Fish | ISBN 978-1605373270

Grammar Day Activity

Active Words Playtime

 

It can be fun to teach grammar by playing! Prepositions such as up, down, under, in, on, through, over, and out can provide opportunities for active fun inside or outside. A playground is a perfect place to demonstrate prepositions to kids while they climb, slide, crawl, and swing on the equipment.

Inside, all you might need is a large box or a homemade pillow fort to build your child’s vocabulary. Kids will love jumping up, crouching down, getting in the box or fort, getting out of the box or fort. Pillows or an open-ended box make a great tunnel to crawl through. You and your child can even make up a story to go along with the actions.

That old perennial favorite Simon Says is another great way to play with grammar, so get creative…and enjoy grammar!

Picture Book Review