October 9 – Curious Events Day

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate the mysteries in life. Those little (and big) events that make us scratch our heads, rush to our favorite social media site, or ponder the greater meaning of life. It seems there’s always something we’d like to understand better, a conspiracy theory we’d like proved or disproved conclusively, or just a question that has always nagged at the back of one’s mind. Sometimes even the most obvious of occurrences aren’t exactly what they seem—as in today’s book. Take the opportunity of Curious Events Day to explore the questions you have!

Something’s Fishy

By Jean Gourounas

 

A vigilant penguin sits beside an ice-fishing hole while snowflakes flutter in the air. Her line dips silently into the blue water. “Hey, what are you doing?” a smiling rabbit asks, coming up behind her. But the penguin only tells him to “shh!” The rabbit is an inquisitive little rascal, though, and sort of asks the obvious: “Are you fishing?” All this talking brings in the walrus, who’s also curious as to what’s happening. The bunny tells the walrus his view of the fishing idea.

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Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Fishing! Well, the walrus wants to know if the penguin is catching anything. It looks grim, the rabbit says, just as a seal comes on the scene and asks the requisite question. “Shh!” the penguin tells them again. The seal repeats the previous conversation, asking “Are any fish biting?” The answer is still the same, though, and the bunny doesn’t know what’s wrong with those fish.

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Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

A moose approaches the group and, despite the fishing hole, the fishing pole, and the fishing line, asks what the penguin is doing. The others are happy to confirm the fishing interpretation of events. The moose is quicker on the draw to see that the fish are not biting, but wants to know why. Ah, the age-old question of fishermen everywhere. “We don’t know!” exclaim the seal and walrus. But the rabbit has decided to add a bit of erudition to the conversation: “I’m baffled,” he states.

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Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The person who has just come along is also intrigued to know whether the penguin has been successful. “No!” rings out from the crowd. Then they all wonder what’s wrong. That may be good enough for everyone else, but the rabbit ups the ante with another big word: “I’m perplexed,” he admits. Next up is a polar bear, who just wants to know what’s going on. Having spent so much time trying to discover the same thing, the rest of the crew feel at one with the penguin and shout, “We’re fishing!” The rabbit includes the caveat “But the fish aren’t biting.”

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Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The polar bear knows a thing or two about catching fish and inquires about the type of bait. Ah ha! Now we’re getting somewhere. “Some cake,” answers the penguin. The idea of cake as fish bait doesn’t seem to trouble anyone. In fact, they can’t believe the fish haven’t jumped at the chance to have this tasty treat. The rabbit? Well, he’s just plain flummoxed. When a bull enters the picture, he takes one look around and asks, “Hey, are you guys having a party?” He gets filled in on the whole fishing/cake/not biting thing, and they all decide that “something’s fishy!”

At last it seems the penguin is going to succeed! She tells everyone to quiet down because she hears something. Bubbling up from deep below the ice comes, “SURPRISE!” as a school of fish wearing party hats wish a stunned newcomer “Happy Birthday!” And when they’ve nibbled their fill, the fish call up for “More cake, please!”

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Copyright Jean Gourounas, 2017. Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

This sly puzzle of a story by Jean Gourounas will delight readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Along the way, children are given some hints that turn out not to be red herrings at all, but real clues to this gentle arctic mystery. Young readers may wonder why the penguin needs quiet, what the fish are waiting for, and even if there’s something to the bull’s suggestion of a party. Kids will giggle as the same questions and answers are asked over and over again in various ways, and don’t be surprised when your little one adds the words “baffled,” “perplexed,” and “flummoxed” to their growing vocabulary. 

Gourounas’ rounded-off characters are cute and expressive, welcoming others to the group and the ongoing discussion with wide, wondering eyes. Sometimes they consider each other, while at other times they look right out at the reader, inviting them to join in too. The brown, textured paper and matte blue, white, brown, and black hues that define the various animals, work in conjunction with the text to create a low-key gathering above ground that is a humorous counterpoint to the festivities below. Little ones who might be concerned with the fate of the fish as they nibble on the cake will be cheered by the last page—and may want a piece of cake themselves to celebrate this funny book.

Ages 3 – 6

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714875316

Curious Events Day Activity

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Haunted House Coloring Page

 

The month of October is full of curious events, spooky mysteries, and surprises. Here’s a printable Haunted House Coloring Page for you to enjoy. Add some ghosts and other curious characters from your imagination to the room!

Picture Book Review

August 24 – It’s National Fishing Month

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About the Holiday

During National Fishing Month individuals and families are encouraged to try their hand at this fun outdoor sport. Whether you catch and release or eat what you catch, casting your line, seeing the bobber wobble, and feeling that exciting tug on the fishing pole makes for a fun day.

Skyfishing

Written by Gideon Sterer | Illustrated by Poly Bernatene

 

A young girl’s grandpa sold his cabin on the lake and is coming to live with her and her family. When they pulled in to pick him up, he was ready and waiting with every fishing pole he owned in one hand and his tackle box in the other. But once he saw his granddaughter’s apartment in the middle of the city, he “realized there was nowhere to fish.”

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Image copyright Poly Bernatene, 2017, text copyright Gideon Sterer, 2017. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Learners.

All during that fall and winter, the girl tried to engage her grandpa in new activities like building models and playing chess. But nothing was the same as fishing. Then in the spring, the little girl had an idea. She took her grandpa out on the fire escape with their fishing poles, and they cast their lines over the edge. At first nothing happened. But then Grandpa got a bite. He reeled it in… “Grandpa said he’d never seen one before, but there it was…A Flying Litterfish.”

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Image copyright Poly Bernatene, 2017, text copyright Gideon Sterer, 2017. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Learners.

That green plastic bag on the end of the hook was just the beginning. After learning the rules—always return what you catch and “where there’s one fish, you can bet there will be more”—the two caught “Chimefish, and Signfish, Laundry Eels and even a Cold-air-square.” But all of those things were stationary and easy to catch. Down below, however, “the sidewalk flowed slowly”; it was a perfect place to practice trawling.

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Image copyright Poly Bernatene, 2017, text copyright Gideon Sterer, 2017. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Learners.

“Capfish were the first to bite. Then Songfish, Goldfish, and fish “from foreign shores.” As Grandpa and his granddaughter became more proficient, they reeled in “Furry Snappers” on leashes and “Hammerheads” drilling holes. Even a “Grillfish” was on the menu. Next, it was time to try their luck in the ocean of the street where larger and faster fish lived. Here, “Zoomfish, Mailfish, Glowfish, and more Yellow-stripers than [they] could count” waited.

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Image copyright Poly Bernatene, 2017, text copyright Gideon Sterer, 2017. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Learners.

There were also mammoth creatures like the “Stretchfish,” Waste-muncher,” and “Constructionfish,” but down below these—in the murky depths—lived the largest fish of all. Grandpa and his granddaughter studied just how to set their line, they lowered it slowly and were not surprised when they felt the tug of the…oh, no!…“Troublefish” with sirens blaring.

Quickly and quietly the two put their fishing poles away for another day. But summer vacation was just beginning, and it was time to join those city fish. “It was time to swim.”

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Image copyright Poly Bernatene, 2017, text copyright Gideon Sterer, 2017. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Learners.

Gideon Sterer’s debut picture book gently and creatively addresses the issue of grandparents transitioning from their own home into another living situation. As an outdoor-loving grandpa comes to live with his family in the city, his caring granddaughter discovers a way for him to continue his beloved pastime while they also form a strong bond. Sterer’s clever idea of dry-land fishing along with his witty names for the fish found in the concrete depths will enchant readers and entice them to devise species of their own. The sweet ending in which both Grandpa and Granddaughter are ready to explore the city and new experiences together is satisfying and uplifting.

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Image copyright Poly Bernatene, 2017, text copyright Gideon Sterer, 2017. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Learners.

With perfect pacing and a growing sense of wonder, Poly Bernatene leads children from Grandpa’s sparkling blue lake to his granddaughter’s city apartment to the first glimpse of their fire escape trophy. Children will be charmed by the ingenuity of the plastic-bag fish dangling on the line and, like the little girl in the story, will be hooked on what comes next. As the waters rise and the people and objects down below slowly transition to fish and other humorous sea creatures, readers will love exploring the watery world and learn to look at their own neighborhoods in a whole new way.

Ages 4 – 8

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1419719110

To learn more about Gideon Sterer and his books, visit his website.

Discover a gallery of artwork and books by Poly Bernatene for children, young adults, and adults on 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 a set of playing cards
  4. Cut the cards apart
  5. Gather all the cards and set in separate piles
  6. Roll the die to determine who goes first, highest roll goes first
  7. The first player rolls the die, and adds the item that corresponds to the number on the die. The list is below.
  8. Play continues with each player rolling the die and collecting cards
  9. If the player rolls a number for a card that he or she already has, the die passes to the next player
  10. 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

Picture Book Review