To get my students in a beachy kind of mood and ready for Summer Vacation (17 days!) I browsed my stacks for something beachy to read to them this week. I stumbled across a book I never knew we had, titled Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha. It is a cute book about a boy who takes a morning stroll on the beach on his way to his family's hot dog stand and he finds a piece of sea glass and "something that looks like jelly". When he gets to the hot dog stand he shows the finds to his "Gram" and she tucks them away for later as they show the hustle and bustle of a day at the hot dog stand that serves "the best lobster rolls in New England". At the end of the night, after the hot dog stand is closed down, Gram takes the boy on a special journey to take the "jelly" he found on the beach back to its' home in the sea. After I picked up the book and started reading, I knew I had to read it to my students because it reminds me of many of the hot dog stands on Cape Cod and also reminds me of the hot dog stand I worked in for 3 summers when I was a teenager. To go along with this book I found in my collection a non-fiction book about jelly fish titled Sea Jellies by Elizabeth Taynor Gowell (the book is out of print) and after I read the moonjellies book I introduced the students to some pictures of real jelly fish. Following these two books, I saw the perfect tie in to bring in the book Flotsam by David Wiesner. I just bought this book off the book fair and I love the illustrations, but I always have a hard time introducing wordless picture books to a whole class. This worked! We talked about finding things on the beach (moonjellies) and then talked about undersea worlds (Sea Jellies) and then we looked through Flotsam and started a discussion about the pictures in the book and what the story could have been. I am actually doing this story time with grades K-3 this week and so far everyone has really enjoyed it. It is the kind of story time that I can do with different grades and each grade gets something different out of it.
On another note, as I picked up Night of the Moonjellies I noticed the author's last name - Shasha. At my first internship in college, I worked for a woman named Danuta Shasha, always thought that her last name was quite unusual. When I read the author's note, I noticed he lived in Boston, which is where I did my internship with Mrs. Shasha. Thanks to the wonders of the web, I found out that my old internship boss is the authors wife. Kind of that six degrees of separation thing, but I thought it was pretty cool!