Have you heard of Holling Clancy Holling? A lot of you are probably screaming, "Of course!" The rest of you are likely thinking, "Who would name their kid Holling Holling?" For this later group let me give you some Holling C. Holling background.
Born in 1900, Holling Allison Clancy (so you see his parents didn't bestow their child with the same given and surname) was an American author and illustrator. He legally changed his name to Holling Clancy Holling in 1925 after marrying Lucille Webster (co-illustrator of his books). This was in part due to people consistently referring to him as Mr. Holling since he simply signed his artwork as "Holling". The other factor leading to his name change was that the surname Holling had reached the end of it's line. There were plenty of Clancys left to carry on, so this was his way to continue the Holling family name. Also, a name like Holling C. Holling isn't a terrible nom de plume, if you want people to remember who you are.
Holling dedicated a significant portion of his life to creating books for children, with some of his most well-known and popular titles being those that tell adventurous tales combining elements of science, geography, and/or history. He won Caldecott and Newberry honors for some of these works and other notable awards for others.
We currently have five Holling C. Holling books in our home library. I purchased them to read to The Boy during the summer between first and second grade. We both enjoyed them tremendously. The language is superb. The artwork is captivating.
I've mentioned good artwork in several of my book reviews, but those by Holling C. Holling are among the best I've seen in children's books and are among my all-time favorites. Additionally, all the books we possess are deceptively educational in that they combine science (like biology, zoology, and ecology), geography, and history into a fascinating fictional story.
That last trait is why I thought these books would make a great summer time read--a simple, fun way to keep brains engaged until school begins again. Now that Little Mama is in between first and second grade, I have pulled them back out to read to her. Every day we read together I am reminded of how much I adore these books. I knew I had to share them with you all.
I considered doing one long post with all my Holling C. Holling recommendations but ruled that out. I want to do justice to each work. Beginning with this article, the next few Favorite Book Friday posts are going to highlight and tell a little about my favorites. Since the introductions are out of the way, you can expect subsequent articles to be MUCH shorter.
So here goes...
Pagoo is hands-down one of the most loved books I have read to my children. If you know how many books we have in our home and how often I read to my kids, you may think that's an exaggeration. But it isn't. Pagoo was the first of Holling C. Holling's books we read, and it is my favorite.
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Pagoo tells the story of the life of a hermit crab. Naturally, the story begins with his birth and ends with his own children being born. In between those events, the book is full of one adventure after another that Pagoo gets into in his never-ending quest to find food and the perfect shell to protect his delicate body.
There he is--newborn baby Pagurus (Pagoo for short).
What makes me so fond of this story is that both the illustrations and words tell a good story while also cleverly relaying so much information about ocean and tide pool ecosystems and various aquatic life. The beaches in my part of the world are white sand and don't have tide pools. I've always wanted to see some in real life, though. This book makes that longing even greater. It is on my bucket list to one day explore a rocky beach with tide pools.
Pagoo's "wife" and babies (if her shell were clear).
Pagoo is perfect if you want your kids to read something (or have something read to them) that will elevate their minds and teach them something. Like I've already said, it's a great summertime book. However, it would also be a wonderful supplement to any biology, zoology, or ecology studies in which your children may be engaged in during the school year.
In addition to the main color illustrations, there are an abundance of side drawings and diagrams to explore. Each "chapter" (they're short) could easily be picked apart to start many a side exploration for more information and can easily inspire a great number of side projects.
A sampling of some of the side diagrams throughout the book. This one shows some of the things that make up plankton. Some of the other diagrams are even more detailed than these!
We've never tackled the book in that way. My intention was to use it simply for a summer read aloud. It's beneficial that way. But if you really want to dig into the book and perhaps use it as a spine for some deeper science studies, I have found some resources to make that process a little easier (as far as brainstorming and preparation go).
Hip Homeschool Moms has a free tide pool unit study using Pagoo. There is a free download with notebooking ideas for each chapter, and the site (scroll towards the bottom) has additional thoughts on how to incorporate other subjects to create a true unit study. And for you non-homeschooling parents out there, don't let the name of this site (or any others provided here) deter you. This sort of unit study would be fun and doable either for a summer vacation project or to compliment regular school work during the year. Just because you don't "homeschool" your children, doesn't mean you don't, shouldn't, or can't educate them in your home in addition to the formal instruction they receive outside of it. In fact, you've been teaching them at home since they were born, and you will continue to do so until they leave it (and probably even after)!
Here is another outline for notebooking with Pagoo. The outline/instructions are not downloadable, so you'll just have to print them directly from the site. However, there are links for special pages/printables to use with the notebook. This one looks very intriguing as an in-depth study.
This is something fun--a free how to draw a hermit crab coloring page. This too has some educational component, though. I fiercely promote thinking independently and using imaginations, but there is also a great need in life to be able to follow directions. Pages like this are a simple way to teach that ability. They also help exercise fine motor skills.
This site from Arizona State University has tons of great looking coloring pages and worksheets. The plankton coloring page is particularly appropriate to accompany Pagoo. There is quite a bit of information provided on the subject in the book, and this coloring sheet helps breakdown what exactly plankton is comprised of. What's even neater is that the page can be downloaded and printed for coloring or you can choose the option to color online.
If you're looking for something more hands-on, check out this tide pool science experiment from Buggy and Buddy. I've seen this post a few times over the years in my exploration for ideas. I love it (since it uses a toob from Safari Ltd. that should come as no surprise)! Not only does the site instruct you how to set up the tide pool, it tells you how to explain what your kids are witnessing and gives a few ideas for additional learning.
Pagoo in trouble!
If you read Pagoo, please let me know in the comments what you thought. Do you love it as much as I do?
If you use any of the links above, I would be thrilled if you sent a pic my way of your kids notebook, experiment, and/or completed coloring sheet. It is my goal to encourage other parents, but receiving something like that would be such an encouragement to me!
Prefer more visually oriented organization? Check out my Pinterest board for all Favorite Book Friday posts.