May 22 – It’s National Family Month

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About the Holiday

In the weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we celebrate National Family Month. The holiday was established by KidsPeace to encourage families to spend more time together. It also gives us the opportunity to honor everything that makes a group of people a family. Common experiences, shared memories, and unconditional love create that unique feeling in the heart that defines family. This year, the bonds of family have taken on a whole new meaning. To celebrate, gather your family together, talk about some things you’ve learned about each other, what you love about each family member, and, of course, have some fun!

I received a copy of Otis P. Oliver Protests for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own.

Otis P. Oliver Protests

by Keri Claiborne Boyle and Illustrated by Daniel Duncan

By Jakki Licare

Otis has no interest in taking a bath now or anytime in the future. In fact, he believes no one should have to take a bath, but with three big sisters no one really listens to him. Otis has to take four baths every single week,  “…especially when he’s excessively grubby. And since worm farms aren’t going to build themselves, Otis is usually excessively grubby.”

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Image copyright Daniel Duncan, 2020, text copyright Keri Claiborne Boyle, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Otis’s family insists he should take a bath. So Otis decides that if he wants people to listen to him, he needs the right look and the right speech. At the playground Otis calls out to his friends that they must unite together for “bath-time rights.” Together they march through the streets until they all plop down on Otis’s front lawn. They will not move until they have been heard. 

Otis’s oldest sister passes him a note from their mom who is wondering what is going on. Otis responds: “No More Baths! Love Otis (P.S. What’s for dinner? I don’t like mystery meatloaf.)” Otis’s middle older sister brings out another note from their mom who doesn’t understand why he doesn’t want to take a bath. She also reassures him that it is lasagna night. Otis explains that he hates how his pajamas cling to him after his bath. Otis’s youngest older sister delivers a new note. Their mother tells him he doesn’t have to wear pajamas if he doesn’t want to. After consulting his group he finally agrees to his mother’s terms.

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Image copyright Daniel Duncan, 2020, text copyright Keri Claiborne Boyle, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

After Otis’s friends head home, the family dog brings Otis another note. “My lil grub worm, So glad we reached a compromise. Now get in the tub before you’re grounded for life! Hugs and kisses, Mom. (P.S. No dessert on school nights.)” Otis hurries in to take his bath, but before he jumps in he writes his mom one last note. He tells her that he is all set to take his bath, but he won’t be using soap. But if he was allowed to have dessert tonight, then he would be happy to negotiate.

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Image copyright Daniel Duncan, 2020, text copyright Keri Claiborne Boyle, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Otis P. Oliver is a smart, charismatic little boy who will walk right off the page and demand admission into your heart. Children will sympathize with his problem of not wanting to take a bath and will cheer him on as he takes on the parental establishment. The notes passed between mother and son through Otis’s sisters add to the hilarity. Each note has a post script discussing what’s for dinner which will make young readers giggle.

Keri Claiborne Boyle’s detailed attention to her characters makes each page a pleasure to read. Each sister’s distinct personality comes through as she stomps or rolls her eyes or pirouettes off the page. Boyle uses the rule of three to trick the readers into thinking that the negotiations are over after the third sister delivers her note. However, Boyle then sends a fourth note out with the dog, proving that Otis’s mom is a master negotiator. Otis still has one trick up his sleeve, though, as he points out the loophole that he never agreed to use soap.

Daniel Duncan’s colorful pencil-lined characters are amplified by his detailed attention to each character’s personality. Otis P. is charming as he wears his father’s oversized coat with dirt patches on his cheeks and knees and wavy stink lines steaming off of him. The illustrated details of fishnet stockings for the oldest sister, bubble gum blowing for the middle older sister, and ipod-carrying and tutu-wearing youngest sister perfectly compliment Boyle’s text and make each sister’s personality pop. Children and adults will giggle at the  hilarious signs that Duncan adds to Otis’s sit in: “I feel bath wrath” & “Occupy Dirt.”  The entire family dynamic is perfectly illustrated through a simple picture of the family’s stairway. The three sisters each have their pictures hung perfectly in descending order while Otis’s picture is propped on the second step at the same level as the family dog.

Ages  6 – 9 years old

Sleeping Bear Press, 2020 | ISBN 978-1534110434

Discover more about Keri Claiborne Boyle and her books on her website

To learn more about Daniel Duncan, his books, and his art, visit him on The Drawn Chorus Collective website.

Budding politicians, bath-averse children, and everyone in between should have this book on their shelves. Otis P. Oliver Protests is the perfect book for kids and adults to share giggles and talks about compromises either at home or in the classroom. A top pick for public libraries too.

National Family Month Activity 

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Recycled  Bathtub Catapult Battleship 

If your kiddo isn’t interested in taking a bath like Otis P. Oliver then you should give this craft a try! Blast the bubbles away as you sail your battleship in the tub.

Supplies

  • Applesauce or yogurt cup
  • Skewer
  • Plastic spoon
  • Popsicle stick
  • 10-15 pennies
  • Rubber band
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Crayons (are best since they are waterproof)
  • Tape

These supplies are just suggestions. Play around with different recycled materials and see what works!

Directions

To Make the Mast

  1. Cut the bottom of the popsicle stick off so the end is flat

  2. Take the cut-off part of the popsicle stick and hot glue the flat side to the popsicle stick, one inch down from the top. This will help hold the rubber band in place

  3. Hot glue the popsicle stick to the center of your yogurt or applesauce cup.

To Make the Catapult

  1. Cut off the pointy ends of skewer

  2. Hot glue the handle of the plastic spoon to the skewer

  3. Hold the catapult at an angle and hot glue the skewer next to the popsicle stick

To Make the Flag

  1. On paper draw a triangle and color in.

  2. Cut out triangle and tape to popsicle stick as a flag

To Finish

  1. Place pennies in front of popsicle stick to balance it out for floating (mine needed 12 pennies to keep it from tipping over backwards)

  2. Attach rubber band around popsicle stick and skewer

  3.  Float in bathtub and attack those bubbles!

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You can find Otis P. Oliver Protests at these bookstores

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million 

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review

October 3 – It’s National Go on a Field Trip Month

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About the Holiday

As the leaves start turning red and yellow and the air becomes crisp and cool, thoughts turn to…field trips? Sure! Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy a bit of travel. For kids a field trip is a fun day away from the classroom, and for adults a little get-away can be refreshing and rejuvenating. With fall festivals, apple-picking, leaf-peeping, and other fun autumn activities, it should be easy to plan a family or group field trip.

South

By Daniel Duncan

 

Out on the rolling sea, there was once a fisherman who sailed alone. His only company was his banjo and a small leafy plant. But one day the fisherman heard an unfamiliar noise and discovered an injured seagull taking shelter in the corner of the boat’s deck. The fisherman saw that the seagull’s wing was broken. He attached a splint and bandaged the wing, then “all that was left to do was wait.”

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Copyright David Duncan, 2017, courtesy of dunksillustration.co.uk.

The seagull slept in a cozy nest fashioned from one of the fisherman’s shirts and gently placed in an open drawer. Now the fisherman had a companion, and he “loved how the bird sang along with his banjo.” For his part, the bird loved the continuous supply of fish. But winter was coming, and the fisherman knew that the seagull could not live on his boat forever. 

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Copyright Daniel Duncan, 2017, courtesy of Harry N. Abrams.

With the seagull perched on his shoulder, the fisherman hoisted anchor and “set sail on a new course: SOUTH.” The vast ocean stretched out in every direction as the little boat chugged along day and night. At last, peering through his telescope, the fisherman spied an island. The bird’s wing had healed, and “the fisherman knew that their journey together had come to an end.” With one last gentle stroke on the seagull’s head, the fisherman let his friend fly away to join the throng of other seagulls on the beach. Then “he set sail on a new course: HOME.”

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Copyright Daniel Duncan, 2017, courtesy of Harry N. Abrams.

Daniel Duncan’s heartwarming story of friendship and letting go is a tender reminder that life is made up of short-term and long-term relationships, and that sometimes people (and animals) are brought together for a particular purpose. Even if some relationships are temporary, the memories and the feelings live on in our hearts. While Duncan’s story is focused on the seagull, readers must also wonder about the fisherman. At first he seems to be a loner, playing his banjo far out to sea without another soul around. But as the story develops through Duncan’s gorgeous detailed illustrations, the theme of family begins to take shape: the boat sails over a school of fish, is carried past a whale and her baby, and finally comes within sight of an island teeming with seagulls.

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Copyright David Duncan, 2017, courtesy of dunksillustration.co.uk.

Early on, as the burly, bearded fisherman bandages the seagull’s wing, alert readers may notice a photograph tacked to the wall of the tidy cabin. Later, as he hangs a framed seagull feather on that same wall, readers can see the photo better and will realize that it is a picture of the fisherman, his wife, and his child. This realization gives the final line more significance, resonance, and joy. Like many families separated for long stretches by a parent’s job, the fisherman’s family is also waiting for him to come home so they can be together again.

Ages 5 – 7

Harry N. Abrams, 2017 | ISBN 978-1419722998

View a gallery of illustration work by Daniel Duncan on his website and blog!

National Go on a Field Trip Month Activity

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Follow the Open Road Maze

 

These kids are ready to go on a field trip, but first they have to get in the correct car! Help them find their way in this printable Follow the Open Road Maze.

Picture Book Review