Wednesday, July 26, 2006


The sun continues to shine high and hot in the sky, and here at PlanetEsme, we are still on the beach!

Read fishy stories like the magnificent BIG AL by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Yoshi (Simon and Schuster) about the biggest, scariest fish in the sea who would like nothing better than to make friends (4 and up, and boy how they scream if you say "The End!" after Big Al is caught in the net), SWIMMY by Leo Lionni (Knopf), the classic tale of undersea cooperation (4 and up), THE RAINBOW FISH by Marcus Pfister (North-South) about a vain and selfish little flipper who gets the zen-like (or is it Trump-like?) message from an octopus that you have to give in order to get (4 and up) and/or the brand-spanking new DEAR FISH by Chris Gall (Little, Brown) (6 and up). Uniquely and boldly illustrated with digitized clay engravings, it shows a world in which undersea creatures join us on land after recieving a message in a bottle from a little boy. The surreal imagination is akin to David Wiesner, and with nonfiction notes on the endpapers for reference and a hunt for ten fishy puns within these pages, there are plenty of hooks to catch young readers.

There are plenty of wonderful, water-ful crafts you can do with a fishy theme; an easy favorite of mine is a brightly crayoned seascape, painted over with turquoise watercolors. Never fails to get an "oooh-ahhh!" from the kids! Or, collage an under-the-sea-scene in a clean styrofoam meat tray, and then cover it with blue cellophane. For a fun game, let children design their own fish on posterboard. Cut them out and stick a little piece of magnet tape (sold at craft and office supply stores) on the back of each of them, along with a number from one to ten of the child's choice. Then, with a long stick with a string an magnet attached, let the children go "fishing." Who can score the most points after three tries? If you secure the fish in zip-lock bags, you can let kids "fish" in a wading pool! When the game is done, attach straws or craft sticks to the back of the fish with some tape, and they can double as puppets so children can make up their own fish tales.

Also of interest:
Okay, okay, I know some people are allergic to THE RAINBOW FISH, but if you cut out prismatic paper fins to pass out at the end of the story, it might help ease the discomfort. Also, check out the provocative article by Heidi Estrin about secular books that teach sectarian values, "Is the Rainbow Fish Jewish"? (Also available as a PDF if you search the title on Google).

Thanks to those who have been adding their own recommendations to these posts in the comments section, you know they are always welcome and appreciated!

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.


Anonymous said...

Am I missing something? Why would anyone be "allergic" to THE RAINBOW FISH?
Love the beach theme to keepus cool.

Anonymous said...

Love the reason for this blog. It's great to see lots of book choices. One problem: Can't read the type/book descriptions over the background. Does the brown flowered background come up for everyone, or is it just my commuter?/


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