August 29 – It’s National Fishing Month

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About the Holiday

Is fishing your thing? Do you like nothing better than heading down to the lake or stream and spending a relaxing day with a fishing pole, some bait, and the possibility of reeling in a “big one?” Perhaps you like fly fishing better, challenging yourself to flick that hook in just the right place. Then again, maybe taking a boat out to deep water and pitting yourself against the truly big fish is more your style. However you like to fish, make some time to enjoy your hobby this month!

Back Roads, Country Toads

Written by Devin Scillian | Illustrated by Tim Bowers

 

Best toady friends, Hank and Buckaroo, were just hanging out in “their favorite drainpipe near Cooper’s General Store” sipping the last drops from a discarded bottle of strawberry soda when they overheard Mr. Cooper and his friends talking about going fly-fishing. Hank and Buckaroo thought FLY-fishing sounded awesome and wanted to go along. They spied the perfect place to catch a ride: the fishermen’s open lunch basket. With a KERPLOP! they jumped in.

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Image copyright Tim Bowers, 2019, text copyright Devin Scillian, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Soon they were on their way to what Buckaroo said would be “‘the greatest day of their lives.’” “‘Toadally,’” agreed Hank. While they rode to the fishing stream, Hank and Buckaroo sang “When You Fish Upon a Star,” and as soon as the truck stopped they jumped out and hid in a nearby bush. But Emmitt the raccoon was already there. Hank and Buckaroo were reveling in the glory that was going to be that day’s “‘fly cafeteria’” and “‘down-home big-time fly barbecue’” when Emmitt gave them the bad news. Hank didn’t believe it. He thought “‘fishing WITH flies’” instead of “‘fishing FOR flies’” sounded ridiculous.

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Image copyright Tim Bowers, 2019, text copyright Devin Scillian, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

And just then a nice juicy fly sailed by. Hank leaped and released his long tongue, but Emmitt pulled him back just before he grabbed onto the fake fly. The three watched as the fishermen caught fish after fish with the imitation flies. Hank and Buckaroo couldn’t imagine what Mr. Cooper and the rest of the fishermen would want with “‘those smelly fish.’” Emmitt disagreed—he loved smelly fish. To prove his point, he ran up and snatched one from the fishermen’s bucket.

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Image copyright Tim Bowers, 2019, text copyright Devin Scillian, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Seeing the fish, Hank had a brainstorm and asked to “‘borrow’” Emmitt’s fish. He placed it on a rock in the sun and went back to their hiding place in the bushes. Emmitt and Buckaroo were confused. But “before long, a swarm of flies hovered over the fish.” When there was a large cloud of flies, “Hank croaked, ‘Let’s go fishing!’” Their tongues snapped in the air, reeling in dozens of flies. When they were filled to the brim, they gave the fish back to Emmitt and happily made plans to go fly-fishing again the next Saturday.

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Image copyright Tim Bowers, 2019, text copyright Devin Scillian, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Devin Scillian’s clever, pun-filled fish story has everything needed to hook young readers and deliver a funny story time. With the lure of all the flies they can eat, Hank and Buckaroo take action to have the best day of their lives and discover a new hobby. When they meet up with Emmitt the raccoon and learn that their initial idea was a bit off the mark, Hank shows persistence and innovative thinking to make their fishing dreams come true. Demonstrating acceptance of each other’s different tastes and some creative cooperation, the camaraderie among Hank, Buckaroo, and Emmitt serves as a good example for readers. The close bond between Hank and Buckaroo—and their hilarious dialog—will endear them to kids, leaving them wanting more from this “toadally” charming duo.

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Tim Bowers’ energetic toads, with their wide smiles, eager eyes, and spirited personalities are obvious best friends from the first page. Bowers’ vibrant, action-packed illustrations are laugh-out-loud funny as Buckaroo and Hank grow giddy at the thought of all those flies they’re going to catch, flick their loooong tongues, and hobble down the road with overstuffed bellies. Emmitt may chuckle at the toads’ misinterpretation of “fly-fishing,” but he’s a true and trusting friend to rescue Hank from a fisherman’s line and lend his filched treat to attract their lunch. In the background, images of the two fishermen and their young protégés casting their lines and reeling in bucket-loads of fish add depth, interest, and visual clues for readers.

A comical, well-developed tale that will captivate kids, Back Roads, Country Toads is a winner for group story times or one-on-one fun at home, in the classroom, or for public libraries.

Ages 5 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2019 | ISBN 978-153411039

Discover more about Devin Scillian, his books, music, and journalism on his website.

To learn more about Tim Bowers, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Fishing Month Activity

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Tackle the Tackle Box Board Game

 

A good fisherman always needs a well-stocked tackle box. Play the Tackle the Tackle Box Game to earn lures, bobbers, hooks and more to fill your box. The first player to complete their set is the winner! For more fun, you can color the tackle box items any way you like. There are even three extra cards for you to draw your own tackle box items!

Supplies

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Directions

  1. On card stock, heavy paper, or regular paper, print one Tackle the Tackle Box Game Board for every player
  2. On card stock, heavy paper, or regular paper, print one set of Tackle the Tackle Box Game Cards for every player
  3. Each player can color their set of playing cards (optional)
  4. Three spaces are left blank for kids to design their own lures, bait, and flies too (optional)
  5. Cut the cards apart
  6. Gather all the cards and set in separate piles
  7. Roll the die to determine who goes first, highest roll goes first
  8. The first player rolls the die, and adds the item that corresponds to the number on the die. The list is below.
  9. Play continues with each player rolling the die and collecting cards
  10. If the player rolls a number for a card that he or she already has, the die passes to the next player
  11. The first player to fix their tackle box is the winner!

Each number of dots on the die corresponds to these cards:

1: FISH LURES

2: HOOKS

3: WORMS

4: FISHING LINE

5: FLIES

6: BOBBERS

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You can find Back Roads, Country Toads at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

July 11 – World Population Day

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About the Holiday

In 1989 the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program established this date as a time to focus on urgent population and humanitarian issues. Each year revolves around a different theme. This year the theme is “Investing in teenage girls.” Education, health, and safety issues for girls around the world is an emerging issue that demands serious attention.

P is for Passport: A World Alphabet

Written by Devin Scillian | Illustrated by nationally acclaimed artists

 

One of the best ways to learn about the world’s diverse population is to travel—either in person or through a great book. P is for Passport is your own personal guide to the myriad people, landmarks, animals, natural resources, modes of transportation, and other things that make up our world. Each letter of the alphabet introduces readers to a concept that begins with that letter (A for animals, B for breads, etc.). A short definition of the place, event, object, or idea is given on one page, and the facing page contains a poem that cleverly and lyrically describes it with examples from around the globe.

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Image copyright K.L. Darnell, courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press

After getting the right Currency with the letter C and filling K’s Knapsack, armchair travelers will traverse the world’s varied terrain. E takes them to the “epic elevation” of “mighty Mount Everest”; for the letter I they will sail to the Emerald Isle of Ireland, the Isles of Greece, and the Isle of Skye as well as to chilly Greenland, warm Tahiti, and green Iceland; J will find them in the densest jungles; of course, “O is for Oceans that “roll and roar and sway”; and D is for deserts:

“We’re in Dakar and it’s dreadfully dry, whipped by the sand in the breeze. / Or it’s a day in Death Valley, dangerously hot at 120 degrees. / A dazzling sun dries out the Gobi, a harsh and punishing land. / The largest on earth is called the Sahara, nine million miles of sand….”

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Image copyright Gary Palmer, courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press

By now readers will be hungry, so B provides buttery buns, bagels, baguettes, biscuits, and more. Feel like something else? Then flip to G for Grain found in pasta, porridge, dumplings, ramen, couscous, wheat, and rice. While travelers eat they can peruse the languages at L:

“Polish is spoken in Poland. In Japan, it’s Japanese. / In Brazil they don’t speak Brazilian, but rather Portuguese. / L is the list of Languages, so many ways to speak. / Like English and Spanish, Italian and Hebrew, Arabic and Greek. / So pack a handy phrase book and learn a few things to say. / A friendly ‘Bonjour!’ or ‘Buenos dias!’ can go a very long way.”

Q is your Quest “…both large and small, from climbing Kilimanjaro to seeing Niagara Falls.” You’ll cross countries by R—Railway and “…rise right through the Rockies , or across the French Riviera, / or rumble across the Australian outback making your way to Canberra.” Along the way you’ll be entertained by M—Music from mandolins, marimbas, maracas, and many different musicians—and S for Sports, such as soccer, surfing, sailing, skiing, and so many more.

Lastly, T stands for Travel as “you see, each trip a traveler takes is a moment that you spend / getting to know a whole new world. And that world becomes your friend.” And from your travels you’ll remember P, the People:

“They laugh, they eat, they sing, and they dance. They work, they sleep, they play. / They smile when they’re happy, cry when they’re sad, and teach their children to pray. / We wear different clothes over different skin, but it’s always seemed to me / that with all of the things we have in common, how different can we really be?”

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Image copyright Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen

As today’s date also hosts the holiday International Town Criers Day, honoring those early “news reporters,” it’s appropriate that Devin Scillian is our featured author. Besides authoring this and other books, he is a television journalist. His childhood spent living in cities across the globe and his work make him a perfect traveling companion for P is for Passport and its introduction to the marvels of the world around us. Delivering the sights, sounds, aromas, play, and people of foreign lands through fascinating rhymes and facts is a wonderful way to get kids excited about travel and geography.

Twenty-four artists from around the United States and Canada lend their unique talents to depicting each letter. Beautiful two-page spreads burst with color and bold, up-close views of representatives for each letter-inspired text. Brilliant red and blue parrots share space with violet orchids, blue poison dart frogs, a coiled green snake, and a stealthily creeping jaguar in Karen Latham and Rebecca Latham’s painting for the letter J. Susan Guy’s soft watercolor of a frozen landscape cut only by a sleek train and its glowing headlamp transports readers to cold northern regions for the letter N. Volcanoes steam and spout while hot, golden lava burns a path through forestland in Ross Young’s vivid painting for the letter V.

Each illustration is equally compelling. Children and adults will want to linger over each page and will find P is for Passport just the beginning of their world exploration. The book would be a welcome home library addition for geography enthusiasts of all ages.

Ages 7 – 12

Sleeping Bear Press

Hardcover, 2003 ISBN 9781585361571 | ebook, 2013 ISBN 9781627533577

World Population Day Activity

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All Aboard for Travel! Word Search

 

The best way to meet your fellow citizens of the world is to travel! Today’s word search is shaped like a train—one of the best ways to see the countryside. So hop on board and start exploring! Get your printable All Aboard for Travel! puzzle.