May 10 – Mother Ocean Day


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of

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.


Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of

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.


Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of

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


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

May 13 – Fintastic Friday: Giving Sharks, Skates, and Rays a Voice


About the Holiday

Fintastic Friday was established by Whale Times to bring awareness to and promote advocacy about conservation efforts to save some of the ocean’s most magnificent creatures. Whale Times, Inc. was created in 1995 to provide kids with easy access to marine science information. Their mission is to create a connections between the ocean, ocean research, researchers, and students through formal and informal educational programs. Respected by educators, marine scientists, and other scientific organizations, Whale Times inspires students to consider careers in marine science and work toward solutions for protecting our ocean environments. Whale Times invites kids all over the world to get involved to save sharks through three activities:

  • Zone It! Help make the entire ocean a shark conservation zone by making others aware of the dangers to shark populations and printing out the special poster found at
  • Thank Them in a Big Way! Through letters or personal conversations, thank the scientists and conservationists working to protect sharks
  • Sharks in the Park Rally! Consider holding a shark rally or party to make others aware of shark and ocean related conservation issues

Discovering Sharks

Written by Donna Parham | Illustrated by Julius T Csotonyi


When you pick up Discovering Sharks, you’ll immediately know you’re reading a unique book. The cover, with the texture and heft of shark skin, features a great white, teeth bared, eye glinting, bearing down on you, the reader! But don’t be afraid—open this book to pages filled with incredible illustrations and information on one of the most fascinating species to swim the seas. Here are just a few:

Carcharocles Megalodon: living during the Miocene and Pliocene Periods, this mammoth shark grew to 50 feet in length and had serrated teeth, some of which were 7 inches tall! These sharks dwarfed the whales, sea turtles, other sea creatures that made up its meals. Even land animals that were unfortunate enough to swim into it’s path were gobbled up.

Cladoselache: This smaller shark grew to a length of 4 to 6 feet and lived during the Devonian Period. It’s a good thing dentists weren’t around back then because this shark would have been their worst nightmare! With a mouth at the tip of its snout and ragged, jagged teeth, this shark was great at grabbing food, but not so good at chewing it.

Whorl-Tooth Shark: With a tooth shaped like the blade of a circular saw growing vertically from the shark’s lower jaw, the Whorl-tooth is perhaps one of the oddest sea creatures to ever live. No amount of orthodontia could ever fix those teeth!

A section on Fearsome Sharks comes next. While you may think that all sharks look scary, very few actually pose danger to people. If you see any of these, however, you better get out of the way!

Tiger Shark: Sporting dark vertical stripes along its back and sides, this 20-foot long monster doesn’t talk trash—he eats it! Scarfing up ocean waste such as “plastic bags, barrels, cans, and pieces of coal,” they are not adverse to snacking on “chickens, pigs, donkeys, and monkeys that fall off boats or go for a swim.” It actually seems there is nothing these sharks won’t eat!

The Great Hammerhead: With its distinctive hammer-shaped snout, this shark hunts prey in a most unusual fashion. Along its wide head are tiny sensors that pick up the small electrical pulses emitted by every kind of creature—even you! Once the shark senses the electrical field, it’s probably too late!

Blacktip Shark: If this whole shark gig doesn’t work out, this unusual giant may find a place in a ballet troupe. While feeding, this quick swimmer “sometimes…leaps free of the water and spins in the air—once, twice, or three times—before falling back into the sea.” Quite a performance!

A chapter on Endangered Sharks are up next. Nearly one-third of shark species are considered endangered or threatened due to environmental and human causes. Sharks are captured for food, for their tough skin, and for the oils and vitamins in their liver. In some places shark fin soup is a delicacy, served for special occasions. Huge trawlers also catch sharks in their fishing nets and on lines. This “bycatching” is a major reason behind the decline of shark populations. Here are two of the species on that list:

Daggernose Shark: With its flat, razor-sharp nose this sleek, 5-foot-long beauty cuts through the shallow waters off the Northern South African coast. It is currently on the Critically Endangered list, which means it will likely become extinct in your lifetime.

Whitespotted Izak: Tiny by the standards of fiercer sharks, this Izak is only 12 inches long. Its name comes from the white spots on its body whose only purpose seem to be breaking up its brown spots. Now on the Endangered list, this striking species has nearly vanished.

Deepwater Sharks may be some of the most unusual sharks of all. Sporting eye-popping adaptations to their forbidding environments, these sharks are like nothing you’ve ever seen before! Here are a couple:

Bahamas Sawshark: Carrying its own double-edged saw in front of it, this shark found in the waters near Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas strikes with stunning force.

Viper Dogfish: You might wonder where this shark’s fins went! The stubby body on this shark makes it look more like a torpedo than a shark. Only recently discovered in 1990, the Dogfish swims the depths off the coasts of Japan and Hawaii

The last section is reserved for “Superlatives”—sharks that demonstrate unique qualities: most warm-blooded, biggest, most likely to get stepped on, most unusual feeding method, most mysterious, and more.

This is just a small sampling of the absorbing facts and species found in Discovering Sharks. Donna Parham offers statistics, scientific data, and trivia about each shark in a conversational, riveting way that will keep kids glued to this book and wanting to return again and again.

The incredible work of natural history illustrator Julius T Csotonyi will take your breath away anew with each page. The vivid colors and textures of the sharks reefs, sea plants, and other fish are so intricately mastered that you will feel as if you’re snorkeling in the depths as well. Lit with the sun, the clear ocean waters show off the beautiful markings of each species, and the murky sea bottom holds unfathomable mystery.

Shark lovers, dinosaur aficionados, monster mavens, and more creature enthusiasts will want Discovering Sharks in their library.

Ages 5 and up

Cider Mill Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1604336047

Gardening for Wildlife Activity


Guess the Garden Differences


No two gardens are exactly alike. Can you find the differences in the two pictures of kids having fun in their gardens? Print out the Guess the Garden Differences puzzle and have fun!