Thursday, June 9, 2011

Star of the Sea by Janet Halfmann - Book Review and Puffy Paint Starfish Craft

During our visit to Shedd Aquarium last summer my kids stuck their hands in a special touch pool located in the Polar Play Zone and felt the surfaces of sea stars. They loved the interactive exhibit, but we were in a rush, we didn't take time to really study the creatures. June is National Ocean Month so we're dedicating part of our time this month to learning about the animals in the sea, starting with the sea star. The sea star (also called starfish) is truly a fascinating ocean creature, and Wisconsin author Janet Halfmann just released an amazing picture book about the unique species.

Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Joan Paley. Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books (May 2011); ISBN 9780805090734; 32 pages
Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher

"Beneath the crashing waves, another kind of star clings to the rocks with hundreds of sticky tube feet. She is an ochre sea star, the common starfish of the Pacific Coast."

This book provides a fascinating and exciting look into the life of a sea star. A female ochre sea star makes her way onto the shore and hunts for food. The sea star passes by sea anemones, crabs and other sea animals until she finally discovers a mussel bed. With amazing strength the sea star pries the shell open using her tube feet and devours the mussel. After she finishes her meal she encounters a dangerous enemy. The gorgeous college illustrations by Joan Paley depict the sandy shores and colorful ocean water with beautiful pictorially textured detail. The end of the book includes a nice, two-page, informative overview of sea stars.

Every time I read one of Halfmann's books, I'm amazed at how much information she slips into her books. She has a unique ability to inform without overwhelming the reader and also skillfully draws the reader into her stories. Such is the case of Star of the Sea. Early on, the reader feels a special connection to the sea star and begins to see the sea star as a unique personality, a creature to root for even as it devours a mussel and especially when a seagull attacks. My kids were a little concerned when the sea star loses one of its rays, but Halfmann quickly explains that the lost ray will eventually grow back. Thanks to Halfmann, we learned a ton about sea stars and hope to see a real one again someday.

Related Links:
Janet Halfmann Website
"Star of the Sea: Ten Years in the Making" - MacKids blog

Janet Halfmann is currently hosting a release party for her new book. Visit her website and enter for the chance to win one of five signed copies of Star of the Sea. Contest ends on Friday, 6/9/2011 at midnight.

▪ ■ ▪ stArt craft - Homemade Puffy Paint Sea Star Craft ▪ ■ ▪

Tactile art projects help kids explore through touch and are great for toddlers and young kids. Since we're not likely to get a chance to touch a real sea star anytime soon, I thought it would be fun to make a pretend version using homemade puffy paint. I first saw a version of homemade puffy paint on mumma made it.

This was our first time experimenting with homemade puffy paint and it was so fun that we'll be making more paint soon. It's simple to make and yields super impressive results.

1 Tablespoon Self-rising Flour (I used the flour we had on hand Gold Medal Unbleached All-purpose - worked fine)
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Water (I used a little more than this to thin the paint out)
Food Coloring

Mix together the flour, salt and water. (If you want a larger amount of paint, just make sure to use equal amounts of the flour, salt and water.) Add food coloring to mixture and stir. Voila! The paint is ready for your project.

Create a sea star -- Apply puffy paint liberally to the paper. (We used cardstock)

When painting is finished, place in microwave for a short time. We microwaved our pictures for 15 seconds on high, but time will depend on your microwave. We removed the picture from the microwave when the paint started to puff up. Cut out the shape of the sea star when the paint cools.

See, doesn't it puff up nicely? My son loved this part of the process. The paint feels leathery. If you wanted to add a little rough texture after microwaving, you could draw a few spine lines with glue and spinkle sand on top.

Create the ocean by following the same steps used to create the sea star.

Glue the sea star and ocean waves to a piece of sand paper to create a cool touch-and-feel ocean scene. Add a few sea shells for more tactile fun.

abc button Shibley Smiles

A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Join in Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Show off your ideas at ABC & 123 Show and Tell. Wrote a post about play? Join the It's Playtime party! Find more great book tie-ins at JDaniel4's Mom Read, Explore, Learn link-up.

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

ooh, we've read several of Janet Halfmann's books, all with nature themes. Aren't they nice!?

Wonderful puff-paint project -- thanks for sharing your fun.

Wonder Mom said...

The TEXTURE to that picture is AMAZING! What an excellent idea...

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I've got to remember to pick up some self-rising flour, that paint looks like fun!

Jenn Likes It said...

I'm hoping to review this book as well on my blog. The craft looks great! I'll definitely send my readers over here for the craft if I do the review.

Ticia said...

Wow! That rose so much. I'll have to see if I can find a small thing of self rising flour.

I'm sharing summer crafts on Monday, would you link this to that? It's totally awesome!

RedTedArt said...

The book sounds lovely and your puff paint looks great - love how you have taken that shot from the side to show us! We are yet to try puff paint! It is on our ever growing crafting list ;-)

Love it!

And thank you for linking to Kids Get Crafty!


Bluerose said...

That is just brilliant! I've never heard of puffy paint, but we'll definitely be trying that out!! :)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Thank for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. This counts as an entry in the Summer Reading Challenge.

I love that he looks like he is dancing on the waves.

Janet Halfmann said...

Thanks so much for reviewing my new book and for mentioning my BIG giveaway, which ends today June 10 midnight CST. I just love the puffy paint craft—the ocean scene is wonderful!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

This book looks great, and I LOVE the craft. Thanks for linking up, as always!

Michelle said...

Love your puffy star! It's wonderful! Featuring this post on this week's High paw! Thanks for joining us and hope to see you again! :)