My latest book PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY is based on the true story of Luna, a rescued sea otter who now lives at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. It’s a heart-filled and hopeful tale about family and love which Kirkus – in their STARRED review – calls “unabashedly adorable.”
Whether for a unit on sea otters or mammals or simply as a new addition to your literacy curriculum, my PUP 681 Curriculum and Storytime Guide offers 26 pages of ideas and activities to bring the book to life across a variety of subjects. Developed by an educator and tied to core learning standards, this free resource is my way of saying thank you for all you do. Click here to view it, download it and share it with your fellow teachers and librarians.
Would you like Autographed Book Stickers? E-mail me.
Teachers and Librarians, see my FREE resources including Virtual Visits and the PUP 681 Curriculum Guide and Storytime Kit. Or how about a school visit? Just e-mail me.
If you’re as excited about PUP 681 as I am, please help me spread the word. Here are some sample tweets to get you started:
Do you know a young reader with enough love to fill an ocean? Then they might love PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY from author @jeanreidy and illustrator @ashleycrowley and @MacKidsBooks. https://tinyurl.com/y66q2vus
For the young animal lover in your life, PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY is a hopeful tale about family and love. It’s available now from author @jeanreidy and illustrator @ashleycrowley and @MacKidsBooks. https://tinyurl.com/y66q2vus
PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY is “unabashedly adorable” (Kirkus STARRED review) and it’s available now from author @jeanreidy and illustrator @ashleycrowley and @MacKidsBooks. https://tinyurl.com/y66q2vus
Here’s a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago. But it seems even more appropriate on the eve of World Read Aloud Day. Enjoy your reading, everyone!
Engaging the Picture Book Crowd
Whether it’s through quiet, cuddle time, conversation or comic relief, engaging the picture book crowd is a delightful task. I like to tell young readers that when we read a picture book, we don’t just decipher the words. We talk about it. We explore it. We discover it. We relate to it. We might move to it. We might even make a little noise. Because picture books aren’t just about words on a page. They’re about sounds and rhythms and poetry and language and voice and life and … pictures!
I love to stress, with kids, the importance of reading the pictures. After all, the illustrations in a picture book tell over half of the story. It’s a skill that very young children can master and feel proud of. It’s also art appreciation 101. When you ask a group of young kids, “How many of you are artists?” almost every hand goes up. So when they see picture book illustration as art, they’re introduced to the stories – including their own – that art can tell. I explore with kids the details of an illustration that might tell us more about the central story or a side story or, perhaps, even a different story, than the text reveals.
I rarely read a picture book straight through. I ask a lot of questions. I ask kids to predict what comes after a page turn. I ask them to look for clues as to how the story might end. And, most importantly, I ask them questions that might help them connect a book, in a personal way, to what they know, what they’ve experienced and the world they live in.
Young readers can feel empowered when they contribute to the conversation about a book. By showing them that I value their discoveries, they not only learn that reading a picture book is rewarding, but that they are valued as well.
On the heels of a weekend stuffed full of gratitude, comes an extra dollop of good news … a bright, shiny starred review for PUP 681. “Unabashedly adorable.” Thank you, Kirkus!
“An abandoned baby sea otter is rescued and sent to live out her life in an aquarium—where she learns the deepest meaning of “family,” in this tale inspired by a real-life rescued otter pup.
‘When the moon slipped under the mist and the sun began to burn through, a tiny one opened her eyes.’ These poetic words are on the recto of a double-page spread of a pale, watercolor seascape. At the left, an immediately appealing, dazed-looking brown sea otter sits draped in seaweed. Over the next two pages, there are four more depictions of the baby, in equally adorable positions, lessening the sting of her plaintive situation. She appears near death when, in driving rain, a young woman shows up and gently bundles her into a blanket, calling the otter Pup 681. The tale is told in third person, but most of it is through the supposed thoughts and even dreams of the otter, who at one point feels so lonely she sickens. Her unnamed, sweet-faced rescuer, a woman of color, again revives her, and a fascinating otter fact is cleverly revealed. The gentle humor of the artwork and the descriptive, sometimes-rhyming text combines with excellent layout to create a compelling tale. If the ending words were describing a human’s lesson learned, they would seem mawkishly sentimental; because the lesson applies to Pup 681’s “tiny otter heart,” they simply provide appropriate closure. An author’s note and a smattering of otter facts follow.
After a recent Skype school visit, I received a fabulous file of “Best Book” reports from a phenomenal first-grade class … which reminded me, author studies and opinion pieces are not just for big kids.
By reading, together as a class, several books by the same author – and maybe even scheduling a virtual visit – you give even the youngest readers an opportunity to compare and contrast an author’s books, learn about story inspiration and idea generation and maybe even ask a few questions of the author herself.
Topping it off with a simple “Best Book” report helps students learn to form their own opinions, find supporting details and draw conclusions about literary works and art.
You’ll be well on your way to forming selective young readers and thoughtful new critics – a boon to any literacy curriculum.
Early learners master days of the week quickly – and there are plenty of picture books that can help them do that – including my BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK!
A days-of-the-week picture book can also serve as a fun mentor text or a basis for a calendar activity. Students – or the class all-together – can compose their own days of the week poem in rhyme or free verse, based on their own weekly schedule. Think something like:
Monday! Soccer day!
Kick it, bump it, locker day!
As you open each day, consider adding some bouncy creativity to your calendar time and watch your young poets blossom.
Look what just went live! Another cover (and a peek at some pages)! I can’t wait for the world to meet TRUMAN – because it takes courage to see new sights, hear new sounds, think new thoughts … and go after what we love. Right? Illustrated by the amazing Lucy Ruth Cummins and edited by the brilliant Emma Ledbetter. Coming Summer 2019 from Atheneum/Simon&Schuster.
Back in 2015, I received this incomparably sweet illustration from my agent, Erin Murphy. Her message: “What would you think about writing this otter pup’s story?”
I soon learned that the art was inspired by an actual rescued sea otter pup living at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago – a place I LOVE.
So how could I resist?
Pup 681, my eighth book, hits bookstore and library shelves in February 2019 (Henry Holt, Godwin Books) and features the AWWWW-so-adorable art of illustrator Ashley Crowley (Officer Panda, The Boy and the Blue Moon) who created that super-cute sea otter pup above.
Here’s the essence of the story –
Washed ashore alone, a tiny sea otter pup needs help! Soon, a rescuer is there, to take her in and keep her warm and fed. The pup faces challenges in her new life without her sea otter family. But with the love and care of her rescuer, she flourishes in her new home. Inspired by a true story, this is a heartwarming and hopeful tale about family and love.
As you can imagine, we’re counting down the days until we can hold this book in our hands. And since seven months can seem like a long time to wait, we thought we’d tide you over for a bit with …
So while the heat of summer is upon us, soak up these cool blue waters.