Connected \\ June 22, 2018

From the PEM Pals Bookshelf

Wednesday mornings at the museum mean silly songs, bubbles and plenty of laughter. PEM Pals, our weekly story and art making program, is designed to bring toddlers and their caregivers together for some curious and creative play.


© 2016 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

Over the past few years, PEM Pals has grown into a favorite program among museum staff and visitors alike, and it’s been such a joy managing it since I joined the museum’s Education department in mid-2016. As a children’s book lover myself, I relish the opportunity to spend hours combing through the books at the Salem Public Library or reading up on the newest releases and trends.

Here are some recent PEM Pals favorites to help you kick off your summer reading!


Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon
Simon & Schuster, 2018

Why I love it:
Laden’s quick rhyming couplets and Castrillon’s stunning illustrations will keep your little ones captivated through this story about two friends braving an ocean voyage together. Even though the waters may get rough, this pair is able to weather the storm as long as they stick together.

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
Bloomsbury, 2017

Why I love it:
With a clever use of color contrasted with black and white illustrations, Percival’s uplifting story will encourage readers to embrace what makes them unique. Plus, the day-glow bright cover will have them grabbing it from the bookshelf again and again!

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel, 2017

Why I love it:
Jeffers is a long-time favorite here at PEM Pals, and his latest book is full of his usual whimsy and signature handwritten notes. Written as a sort of love letter to his newborn son, this guide to living on Earth is packed with fun-to-examine illustrations that will encourage questions and deeper learning.


Windows by Julia Denos and E.B. Goodale
Candlewick, 2017

Why I love it:
Local author-illustrator team Denos and Goodale bring the city streets of Somerville, MA to the page. Perfect for bedtime, this quiet read is full of little surprises peeking out of every window. Keep an eye out for the many cats, and I especially love the colorful sunset hidden under the dust jacket!


© 2018 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Caryn Boehm

Author Julia Denos and illustrator E.B. Goodale visited PEM Pals in March to share their book.


© 2018 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Caryn Boehm


What Color is the Wind? by Anne Herbauts
Enchanted Lion Books, 2016 (English translation)

Why I love it:
Translated from its original French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick, this book is a sensory dream that fosters empathy. With cut outs, spot gloss and embossed textures for little hands to explore, Herbauts takes readers on a synesthetic journey inspired by an interaction she had with a blind child. Perfect for a rainy day that sends you indoors. Try asking your little one to listen and feel with eyes closed while you read.

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Candlewick, 2018

Why I love it:
Fun for fans of the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, this stunning debut by Jessica Love will inspire you to turn your curtains into fish tails and march in your own parade. A story of imagination, self-expression and acceptance, Julián and his charming Abuela are perfect companions for a summer afternoon spent daydreaming about being your best self.

Build your own mermaid crown fit for a parade! Download our PEM Pals instructions along with these printable shapes to color and cut out, or just get creative and look around your house for fun materials to recycle into a headband, starfish and seaweed, and other fun ocean inspired decorations.


How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder
Macmillan, 2016

Why I love it:
Magruder’s spunky and determined main character will inspire your little ones to get outside and explore their world this summer. Plus, if you have older kids, point them to Magruder’s webcomic, M.L.K, for which she won the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for diversity.


Recycle a small shipping box into a camera for your intrepid explorer! Get creative with materials: a leftover condiment cup from a restaurant can become a lens, a shoelace or scrap ribbon can become a strap and a clothespin can become a snappy shutter button. Decorate with paint, crayons, markers, stickers — whatever you have around the house. Join in on a hunt for all of your favorite animals and neighborhood sights.

Join me and our storyteller Heather Tharpe (known fondly by many as “the bubble lady”) for PEM Pals on Wednesday mornings at 10:30. Explore more book and art making ideas on the Peabody Essex Museum Pinterest page.

Want to recommend a book or share your PEM Pals feedback? Send me an email: I would love to hear from you!

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