Sam, Bangs & Moonshine


Sam, Bangs & Moonshine

by Evaline Ness

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966

36 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: cats, imagination, tall tales, storms, ocean, storms, pets, single parent

Other books illustrated by Evaline Ness: All in the Morning Early, A Pocketful of Cricket, Tom Tit Tot



Happy Feet (2006)

Happy Feet

Rated: PG for some mild peril and rude humor

Length: 108 min.

Age: 6 + (with reservations – read full review)          Commonsense Media sez: 5 +

Scary Factor: leopard seal lunging right at the camera and ensuing chase; long sliding sequence with avalanche; another hair-raising chase with orcas; close call with boat propeller

Intense scenes: Mumble is cruelly ostracized and finally banished from the colony; when he’s in the zoo Mumble becomes clinically depressed, to the point of madness

Language: idiot, stupid, blubber butt, lardface, fool, etc.

Sexual content: suggestive lyrics in pop songs; much preoccupation with mating season; lots of sexually suggestive body language and innuendo (especially Lovelace)

Interests: penguins, antarctica, ocean, sea creatures, environmentalism

Next: March of the Penguins (documentary)

Mrs. Cockle’s Cat


Mrs. Cockle’s Cat

Philippa Pearce, author

Antony Maitland, illustrator

London: Constable and Co., 1961

30 pp.

Ages: 4 +

Interests: cats, flying, balloons, London, ocean, boats

Also by this author: Tom’s Midnight Garden


How I Became a Pirate

How I Became a Pirate

by Melinda Long

illustrated by David Shannon

Orlando: Harcourt, 2003

34 pp.

Age: 3+

Interests: pirates!, ships, ocean, adventure, soccer

Also by this author and illustrator: Pirates Don’t Change Diapers

Also by this illustrator: No, David! (Diaper David series), A Bad Case of Stripes, Alice the Fairy


Pirate Girl

Pirate Girl

Cornelia Funke, author

Kerstin Meyer, illustrator

New York: Scholastic, 2003

30 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: pirates, strong girls, ocean, boats

Also by this author: Inkheart Trilogy, Picturebooks: The Princess Knight, The Wildest Brother, Princess Pigsty More



by Leo Lionni

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963

30 pp.

Age: 4+

Interests: fish, ocean, sea creatures

Also by this author: Inch by Inch, Frederick, Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse


Top 5: Ocean Movies






In honour of my own upcoming weekend campout beside the ocean… five family movies about the mysterious and fascinating deep.

1. Fantasia 2000 (1999) – for age 3+  (just the “Pines of Rome”)

Okay, this is just a part of a movie, but the “Pines of Rome” sequence, featuring a pod of soaring whales, is stunning. (This sequence is totally suitable for the very young, though other sequences in the film are significantly scarier, more suited to 5 or 6 year olds.)

2. Ponyo (2009) – age 4+

An entirely different take on the basic “Little Mermaid” fairy tale. Magical forces out of balance cause the ocean to rise and submerge a coastal town… but no one is hurt in this adventure, which all hinges on a little fish striving to become a human girl.  Underwater scenes are breathtaking. (Read full review.)

3. Finding Nemo (2003) – age 4+

Wonderful fish adventure, highlighting many ocean species along the way. Funny and smart, scary moments but plot moves through them quickly. Sure to spark an interest in learning more about sea creatures. (Read full review.)

4. Pinocchio (1940) – age 5+

Underwater scenes only occur in last part of this movie, but Monstro the whale is unforgettable, if a bit scary. (Read full review.)

5. Blue Planet (2001) – age 5+

Okay, this is a BBC series, not a movie, but don’t forget to follow-up fantasy ocean stories with non-fiction and documentaries. And a trip to the aquarium!

The Selkie Girl

The Selkie Girl

retold by Susan Cooper

illustrated by Warwick Hutton

New York: Macmillan, 1986

30 pp.

Age: 4+

Interests: ocean, magic, Celtic, selkies, folklore, mermaids




by David Wiesner

New York: Clarion Books, 2006

Age: 5+

Interests: ocean, ocean creatures, nature, beaches, photography, magic

Also by this author: Free Fall, Tuesday, Sector 7, The Three Pigs


Captain Pugwash: A Pirate Story

by John Ryan

London: Bodley Head, 1957

32 pp.

Age: 3 +

Interests: pirates, ships, ocean, treasure

Sequels: Pugwash Aloft (1960), Pugwash and the Ghost Ship (1962), Pugwash in the Pacific (1963) – and many more


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.