May 19 – National Learn to Swim Day

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About the Holiday

As summer heats up and school ends, the pool and beach are natural draws for fun and relaxation. If children are going to be around water, it’s important that they learn how to swim. Today’s holiday is a great reminder to sign children up for swimming lessons if they don’t know how to swim and to go over the rules and skills if they do. Young children should never be left unattended by an adult around any water source. Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of summer, is just ahead! Have a fun and safe summer!

The Whale in My Swimming Pool

By Joyce Wan

 

A little boy runs pell-mell through the house to the pool. But when he gets to his little kiddie pool, “Whoa…” it’s already taken—I mean the whole thing—by a whale! The boy calls to his mom, who’s reading a book in a nearby chair, to tell her about the whale, but she’s more concerned about sunscreen. “Sunscreen? On a whale?” the little boy wonders.

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Copyright Joyce Wan, 2015, courtesy of us.macmillion.com.

He closes his eyes and counts to ten, hoping that by then the whale will have disappeared. But no. He tries pushing it out. But no. The boy can’t understand why the whale didn’t plop down in the neighbor’s much bigger and nicer pool. He throws a stick hoping to get the whale interested in a game of fetch, tries fishing for whale, and even tries bribing him away from his spot.

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Copyright Joyce Wan, 2015, courtesy of us.macmillion.com.

The boy has just about given up in frustration when he has an idea. He runs to get his floating ring and sunglasses and finds that sunning while held aloft on the whale’s spout is just dandy. In a while his mom calls him for naptime, and the boy slides down the whale’s back. He runs to his room only to find his bed—I mean the whole thing—by a bear (who snores)!

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Copyright Joyce Wan, 2015, courtesy of us.macmillion.com.

Joyce Wan’s adorable story is a summertime favorite that keeps little ones giggling as the little boy tries everything he can think of to budge the whale from his little pool. The boy’s attempts to move the whale echo what most kids might do to remove an obstacle, which builds a sense of camaraderie and empathy between reader and character. The boy’s ingenious solution to his problem will delight kids, and his naptime nemesis will elicit plenty of “Oh nos!” and “Not agains” from happy kids.

Wan’s bold colors, thickly outlined characters, and stylized pages will attract little ones with their high cuteness factor. Youngest readers will enjoy pointing out and naming items around the neighbor’s pool and in the boy’s bedroom, discovering the reason why the whale didn’t choose the nicer pool, and maybe even finding some foreshadowing in the boy’s floating ring.

A fun and funny book for summer or anytime, The Whale in My Swimming Pool would be a favorite addition to any child’s library.

Ages 2 – 6

Farrar Straus, and Giroux, 2017, Paperback ISBN 978-1338196672  | 2016, Board Book ISBN 978-0374301880 | 2015, Hardcover ISBN 978-0374300371 

Discover more about Joyce Wan, her books, and her art on her website.

National Learn to Swim Day Activity
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Cute Whales Coloring Pages

 

The sea is full of expert swimmers like the orca and narwhal in these printable coloring pages. Grab your crayons and give these seascapes some color!

Cute Orca Coloring Page | Cute Narwhal Coloring Page

Picture Book Review

January 8 – Bubble Bath Day

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About the Holiday

On a cold, snowy day – or even on a sunny day if you live in a warmer climate—a bubble bath can be just the thing for relaxing at the end of the day. Your kids love splashing in the frothy suds, so why shouldn’t you enjoy them too? Take the opportunity for a little luxury and have some fun!

A Whale in the Bathtub

 Written by Kylie Westaway | Illustrated by Tom Jellett

 

When Bruno goes to take a bath, instead of an empty tub he finds it occupied by a whale. The whale takes a bit of offense at the little boy who is staring at him. “‘You could have knocked!’” he says. The boy is nonplussed and wants to ask the whale how he got there. He’s also a little surprised to see that the whale is luxuriating in his “bubblegum bubble bath.” Not a fan of bubblegum, however, the whale says, “‘I don’t like it. Have you got any that smells like krill?’”

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Image copyright Tom Jellett, courtesy of tomjellett.com

With the admonition that he’s “letting the heat out,” the boy leaves to find his sister, Ally. Ally is unsympathetic to her brother’s plight, and shouts to their mom, “‘Bruno’s pretending again! And he’s not taking a bath!’” Bruno protests that he’s not pretending, but his sister reminds him that last week he reported a bear under his bed and “‘on dad’s birthday, there was a walrus in the backyard.

Their mom has had enough of the squabbling and sends Bruno back upstairs. He finds the whale “scrubbing under his flippers with Dad’s back scrubber,” and when he hears that Bruno needs the tub, the whale simply says, “‘I haven’t done my tail yet. Come back later.’” Before he goes Bruno notices that despite the fact that the whale didn’t like his bubble bath, he sure seems to be using a lot of it.

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Image copyright Tom Jellett, courtesy of tomjellett.com

Bruno’s brother loves science, so Bruno tells him about the whale. “‘A whale can’t fit in a bathtub,’” Pete says. “‘Even a baby whale would be too big. And there’d be no room for the water. It’s just impossible.’” The bathroom is now splattered with water, suds, and bath toys, and the whale is still not finished. Why doesn’t the whale just wash in the ocean? There’s no hot water, no bubble bath, no soap, and no washcloths.

When Bruno goes downstairs he discovers his dad is home from his business trip. “‘Dad, there’s a whale in our bathtub!’” Bruno tells him. “‘A whale? Wow!’” His dad laughs, but even though he asks some very good questions, such as “‘How did it get there? Was there a flood today and the whale got stranded? Or did it just swim up through the drain?’” he sends Bruno back up with the promise that he’ll be there in five minutes.

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Image copyright Tom Jellett, courtesy of tomjellett.com

The whale is now “rinsing his barnacles” and reveals that he’ll be “at least another hour. Maybe four.’” But then he has an idea. The whale takes a deep breath and “Whoosh!” gives Bruno a shower, which, despite smelling a bit like krill, is one perk of having a whale in the bathtub.

Whether imaginary or real, Kylie Westaway’s Whale in the Bathtub is a fun bath-time romp. The mischievous sea creature that dwarfs the tub and has a ready retort to each of the boy’s questions and comments will make kids giggle and have them running to see if their own bathtub holds such adventure. Grounded in real family dynamics to further enhance the humorous absurdity, A Whale in the Bathtub is a great read aloud.

Tom Jellett will hook readers from their first glimpse of the enormous whale that has taken up residence in Bruno’s bath tub. So huge that he takes up two pages, the whale is a blue behemoth that loves his warm water, back scrubber, and bath toys and comes to appreciate bubblegum bubble bath. The vintage look to Jellett’s illustrations, complete with scribbled highlights and simple outlining of some details, will have kids pondering whether the whale is a figment of Bruno’s imagination and drawings or a real fish out of (sea) water.

Both reluctant bath-takers and kids who love to rub-a-dub-dub, as well as marine-animal enthusiasts, will find much to laugh about in A Whale in the Bathtub.

Ages 4 – 7

Clarion Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-0544535350

Get to know more about Kylie Westaway and find fun book-related activities on her website!

Discover a portfolio of illustration work by Tom Jellett on his website!

Bubble Bath Day Activity

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Fun Foam Bath Shapes

 

Instead of buying bathtub clings for your kids to play with, make some yourself! It’s easy with regular foam sheets, cookie cutters or stencils, and scissors! Make it a family activity and watch the shower of creativity that results!

Supplies

  • Foam sheets in various colors
  • Cookie cutters or stencils
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Trace cookie cutter shapes or stencils onto the foam 
  2. And/Or cut squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, and other shapes from the foam in a variety of sizes
  3. Cut out the shapes
  4. Wet the backs of the shapes with water and stick them to the tub or tiled or lined wall. Shapes will also stick with a little shaving gel or cream applied

Picture Book Review