Brownie and Pearl: Take a Dip by Cynthia Rylant
*Picture book for preschool through first grade
*Little girl and her cat as main characters
*Rating: Brownie and Pearl: Take a Dip is a cute, summer book. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best, but it sure captivated my 10-month-old daughter’s attention and got her “talking.” I would say fans of the series will like it. I chose it for my tribute to the end of the summer!
Short, short summary: Brownie, a little girl, and her cat Pearl are hot! They decide to take a dip (which some kids will learn means GO SWIMMING!). They fill up their backyard pool, get their sunglasses, and test the water. Pearl winds up doing more than just testing the water. For those of us who know anything about cats–well, Pearl is not too happy. It all ends well when they decide to dry off in the sun. The illustrations by Brian Biggs are the best part of this book–very, very, very nice (as Rylant says).
So, what do I do with this book?
1. For a fun “dictionary” type of activity with small children, consider asking them (BEFORE reading the book) what is a dip? They might know dip of ice cream or dip a washcloth into the bath water. For all the definitions, look in a dictionary or use my favorite: www.dictionary.com. Then share the book with children, and ask them, “Okay, what else can dip mean?” Then ask students to use DIP in a sentence–any way they want–and draw a picture to go with it.
2. Talk about character feelings with this book, especially since the illustrations are so big and bright. How are Brownie and Pearl feeling at the beginning of the book? How does Pearl feel when she falls into the pool? Why does Brownie giggle? And so on. You can take this activity a step further by asking, “Have you ever felt this way? When?”
3. Children will most definitely want to share a swimming story or pet story with you after sharing this book–either at home or at school. If you are a teacher with a room full of children with stories, do think, pair, share. First they all think of a related story, next they share it with a partner. That way, everyone gets to tell their story without taking too much class time. At home, of course, you have more time with less children.