|Image from DavidLucas.org|
Halibut Jackson is shy. He’s so shy that whenever he goes out he wears a suit to blend in so no one will notice him. He has a flower print suit for going to the park and a suit that mimics books on shelves for his trips to the library. But one day Halibut Jackson receives an invitation to the Queen’s grand birthday party. Although he’s shy, Halibut Jackson simply cannot refuse. So he makes himself a suit covered with jewels hoping it will help him blend into the royal castle. Too bad it’s a garden party! Instead of blending in Halibut Jackson becomes the center of attention. The King and Queen adore his clothes and ask Halibut Jackson to make them suits, too. Soon Halibut Jackson has a clothes store of his own. People notice him, but it doesn’t matter so much anymore.
Although this book was published in 2003, it has a distinctly vintage feeling. The whimsical pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations are filled with fabulous retro-inspired clothing. The line work incorporates curlicues, domes, and other geometric shapes. At times Lucas brings the focus onto a single character or element by placing it against a white background, but more often he fills up every nook and cranny of the page with people, flowers, books, and knick knacks of all shapes and sizes. The text, written in third person, is simple. The story is written in short, repetitive sentences with important words emphasized in italics or capitals.
Use this book as part of a storytime about shyness. Try pairing it with books like Giraffes Can’t Dance or The Blushful Hippopotamus. As you read the first few pages of the book, ask the kids if they can find where Halibut Jackson is hiding on the page.
Follow up with crafts that introduce kids to sewing. Make some yarn sewing cards by drawing a simple Halibut Jackson figure on cardstock or thin cardboard, punching holes in the sides and having kids sew them together with yarn. I also like Skip to My Lou’s yarn sewn craft foam purse. And check out the pre-sewing crafts on the Putti’s World blog. I suggest using plastic yarn needles for projects like these. They won’t be a hazard if you poke yourself or accidentally drop them on the floor.
Have a Halibut Jackson party and ask kids to dress up to either blend into the library or stand out as Halibut Jackson does at the garden party. If you have a box of dress up clothes this is the time to bring it out!