August 11 – Play in the Sand Day

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About the Holiday

Is there any better way to spend a summer day than playing on a sandy beach? That wet, compact surface is perfect for running on, digging in, and of course building sandcastles with. And the soft, dry areas? Their great for setting up chairs or blankets and wiggling toes in. Whether you head out to the ocean, a lake, or even a secluded river bank, don’t forget to pack a pail and shovel for some family fun!

How to Code a Sandcastle

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Sara Palacios

 

It’s the last day of Pearl’s summer vacation, and she’s hit the beach with her parents. Her goal is to build a sandcastle. It’s not like she hasn’t tried on other beach days, but there was always something that destroyed it. There was the frisbee that landed on top of it, then a surfer glided right into it, and another girl’s dog, Ada Puglace, thought it needed a moat. But today, Pearl brought her robot, Pascal, to build her sandcastle.

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

As Pearl explains, “He’ll do whatever I tell him—as long as I tell him in code. It’s not a secret code—it’s special instructions that computers understand.” Pearl points out the perfect spot on the beach for her sandcastle and tells Pascal to build it. But Pascal doesn’t move. Pearl realizes that she must break down the one big request into smaller problems for Pascal to solve. Easy-Peasy, Pearl thinks.

The first problem Pearl gives Pascal is: “find a place to build.” First Pascal travels out to sea, but Pearl tells him they must build on land. So Pascal rolls out into the parking lot. Hmmm…that’s not right either. Pearl decides she must be “very specific with my instructions.” When she tells Pascal to “find a flat spot on sand that isn’t too close to the water,” he marks an X on a perfect sandy spot. Great!

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

The second problem Pearl gives Pascal is to “gather up sand.” She’s learned to be very particular in her instructions, so she gives her robot a three-step process: “Fill the pail with sand, dump the sand on our spot, pat the sand down.” This works just right, so Pearl continues telling Pascal the directions, until she grows tired of speaking.

There must be a better way, Pearl thinks. How about a loop? Pearl directs Pascal to “loop through this sequence,” and just like that Pascal is off and rolling and Pearl gets to relax. A while later, Pearl discovers that Pascal had built a pyramid-high pile of sand, so Pearl tells him to stop. Next, they will “shape and decorate the castle.” Pearl comes back with pretty seashells to add to the castle, while Pascal brings back the lifeguard—in his chair. Pearl orders Pascal to bring back something smaller. When he comes back with a crab, she tells him it must be something that doesn’t move, and when he shows up with a baby’s pacifier, Pearl knows she must do a better job of explaining.

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

She decides to give him “if—then—else” instructions. With these detailed directions, Pascal returns with a shell and some seaweed. Finally, it’s time to shape the castle. They use their buckets and hands to build a beautiful castle that even has a turret. The shells, rocks, and seaweed are the perfect finishing touches. With the castle finally finished, Pearl runs off to get her toys.

But when she gets back, Pearl discovers that the rising tide has washed their sandcastle out to sea. And to make matters worse, Ada Puglace is back to add another moat. Hmmm… a moat? Pearl thinks. That’s what she needed the first time. Pearl really wants to rebuild, but it took her half a day to make the first one. Then she realizes that the code is already written. All she has to do is use it again. In no time a new sandcastle stands gleaming on the beach.

There’s just one more problem to solve. Quickly, Pearl gives Pascal a new looped sequence to dig the moat. Now it’s time to play—or “code an entire kingdom!”

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

A Foreward written by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, introduces readers to this organization that is “working to close the gender gap in technology” and get girls of all ages excited about coding and future opportunities in science and technology. 

Pearl and Pascal’s Guide to Coding with brief discussions of Code, Sequence, Loops, and If-Then-Else follows the text.

With his infectious enthusiasm and talent to reach kids in new and innovative ways, Josh Funk, a computer programmer by day and super writer by night, is a perfect guide to the joys of coding for young learners. Taking kids out to the beach for a bit of sandcastle building—an endeavor that is often fraught with dangers—is a terrific way to show the procedures and power of coding. Pearl’s initial missteps in programming Pascal provide laugh-out-loud moments while also demonstrating that computer programs work with precise instructions. Her inexperience but quick learning will give readers confidence in their own abilities to code and where to look for problems if their program does not run as smoothly as they’d like. When high tide washes Pearl and Pascal’s sandcastle out to sea, readers may groan in empathy, but the opportunity to do it all again—only bigger and better—will make them cheer.

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Sara Palacios’s golden beach is a wide-open and inviting platform to introduce the world of computer programming to young readers. Sunny and enthusiastic, Pearl, in her heart-shaped sunglasses, is persistent and smart in figuring out just how to make Pascal do what she wants. Pascal is a round, rolling cutie, perpetually happy to perform its duties. Series of panels and speech bubbles depict each instruction Pearl gives Pascal, clearly showing readers how coding and a computer’s response to its instructions work. Sequence loops are cleverly portrayed with typeface that creates a circle around Pearl’s floating ring and later around the trench that will surround the castle and become the moat. The final image of Pearl and Pascal celebrating their successful day together is powerful encouragement that a new day of girls and women in technology and science is on the horizon.

Coding a Sandcastle is a motivating combination of lighthearted fun and accessible education that will encourage girls—and boys—to get involved with computer coding just for their own enjoyment or as a future profession. It’s a must for school media and computer class libraries, and with this book on home bookshelves, kids won’t want to just play on the computer—they’ll be asking to program too.

Ages 4 – 8

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2018 | ISBN 978-0425291986

Discover more about Josh Funk and his books and find lots of fun activities to do too on his website.

To learn more about Sara Palacios, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Play in the Sand Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bringing-the-outside-in-painted-pails-craft

Personalized Painted Pail

 

A trip to the beach or park isn’t complete without a pail to collect shells, seaweed, sea glass, pebbles, sticks, nuts, or other things in. But why should all the cool stuff be on the inside? With this craft you can decorate your pail to show your unique personality!

Supplies

  • Plastic or metal pail
  • Craft paint in various colors
  • Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating, for multi-surface use
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint designs on the pail
  2. When paint is dry spray with acrylic coating to set paint
  3. Let dry

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-how-to-code-a-sandcastle-cover

You can find How to Code a Sandcastle at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

May 8 – No Socks Day

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About the Holiday

With spring and summer’s warm weather comes a sense of freedom, and there’s no better feeling that kicking off your shoes, pulling off your socks and walking barefoot on soft grass or squishy sand. Besides the relaxation that today’s holiday affords, it also helps the environment. Fewer dirty socks means less laundry—which saves water and electricity and is another kind of freedom all on its own! So go footloose and fancy free and read today’s sweet book!

Beach Socks

Written by Michael J. Daley | Illustrated by Estelle Corke

 

An adorable little boy is visiting the beach with his mom. He’s plunked down in the sand, has removed his shoes and is peeling off his stretchy socks. He happily greets his ten little toes and excitedly tells them, “let’s go!” Holding onto his mommy’s fingers, he toddles over the “dry sand, hot sand” and thinks, “Go fast toes!”

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Image copyright Estelle Corke, text copyright Micheal J. Daley. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Ahhh! The wet sand is cool and offers some relief. Here, near the water’s edge, the little boy can slow down and enjoy his walk. Soon he finds a spot to dig with his shovel and pail. A friendly seagull perches nearby, attracted to the mussel shells and the child’s bright yellow sun hat. The little one welcomes him with a cheery, “Hello, Seagull! Nice toes.”

In a bit, the boy and his mommy explore the beach. They wind around rocks where “stringy seaweed tangles toes” and carefully tiptoe past a scuttling crab and through a patch of scattered seashells to meet a wave crashing onto shore. As the wave recedes it leaves “foam and bubbles” and runny sand that tickles toes.

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Image copyright Estelle Corke, text copyright Micheal J. Daley. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Waves come in and go out, and “toes sink deeper” until sandy socks cover little toes and feet and legs. Suddenly, a big wave splashes to shore, washing the beach socks away. As the day wanes, the little boy rides on Mommy’s shoulders. They watch the golden sun dip into the watery horizon while the boy waves goodbye to the ocean and to the sand, and—with “socks on. Shoes on”—to his toes as well.

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Image copyright Estelle Corke, text copyright Micheal J. Daley. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.com

Michael J. Daley’s endearing day at the beach with a toddler who is discovering the joys of walking barefoot in the sand, meeting friendly sea creatures, and playing in the waves is a perfect summertime read for little ones. Daley’s minimal text engages young readers and will make them giggle as the sweet baby carefully watches his toes during his day-long romp.

With charming details, such as swirled seashells, crinkled seaweed, frothy waves, and curious creatures, Estelle Corke’s illustrations are so wonderfully evocative of a sunny, golden seashore that readers will almost be able to smell the salty air and feel the soft sand beneath their own toes. Images of the adorable toddler also mirror the excitement and determination of little ones out for a fun day. Readers will love pictures of the child navigating the beach with just the support of his mother’s fingertips, warning off the inquisitive crab, wiggling his toes in the wave’s shower, and clinging to his mom’s windblown hair as he gets a piggyback ride up the beach.

A perfect take along on any beach trip as well as a lovely mini-vacation for the smallest armchair travelers, Beach Socks would make an often-asked-for addition to any home library.

Ages Birth – 4

Star Bright Books, 2013 | ISBN 978-1595726377

Discover more about Estelle Corke and her books and view a portfolio of her work on her website!

No Socks Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bringing-the-outside-in-painted-pails-craft

Personalized Painted Pail

 

A trip to the beach or park isn’t complete without a pail to collect shells, seaweed, sea glass, pebbles, sticks, nuts, or other things in. But why should all the cool stuff be on the inside? With this craft you can decorate your pail to show your unique personality!

Supplies

  • Plastic or metal pail
  • Craft paint in various colors
  • Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating, for multi-surface use
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint designs on the pail
  2. When paint is dry spray with acrylic coating to set paint
  3. Let dry

Picture Book Review