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A Pinny Summer Checklist

In celebration of simple living, of no-tech summer freedom, and fun.

Pinny in Summer Cover

Pinny in Summer, by Joanne Schwartz and Isabelle Malenfant, received a nice shout-out in the New York Times the other weekend, and no wonder: it's fantastic, with prose just as gorgeous as its pictures. Pinny's story is a celebration of simple living, of no-tech summer freedom and fun, and so to get your little ones in the spirit, we've made a Pinny Summer Checklist so that, like Pinny, they don't miss a single thing. 


1) Go Looking for a Wishing Rock

A wishing rock, according to Pinny (AND according to the Wishing Stones website run by the Wishing Stones Gallery on Big Tancook Island in Nova Scotia), is a special kind of rock that has a stripe running all the way around it. As Pinny acknowledges, wishing rocks are hard to find, but it's the looking that's the real adventure. Even if you don't find a wishing rock, you're sure to find something. And if you do find a wishing rock, you can make a wish. 

Even better: wishing rocks don't have rules

Pinny in Summer 1

2) Go Cloud Watching

When Pinny and her friends lie down in the grass and watching the clouds, they see clouds that look like feathers, fish, dragons and cake. It's an activity that doesn't require any accoutrements, though these toilet paper roll binoculars look pretty fun.

Also, check out the Cloud Appreciation Society

3) Go Berry Picking

Pinny and her pals head out to Blueberry Hill with their pails, but if you don't have a Blueberry Hill that's so convenient, google pick-your-own berry farms in your area. And no matter what fruit is ripe for the picking in your area, it's sure to taste delicious in Dinner With Julie's clafoutis recipe. That is, if the kids don't eat all the berries while you're out in the field. 

4) Watch a Thunderstorm Blow In

The thunderstorm in the book catches Pinny and her friends by surprise, but if you're ready for it, a summer storm can be better than a movie. Seriously. Make popcorn, once you've battened down the hatches, and find a comfy seat by the window in order to watch nature at her most dramatic. 

5) Say Hello to a Seagull

In the story, Pinny displays far more sympathy towards seagulls than most people do. The gull in question not only disturbs her reading, tapping on the window while she's curled up with a good book, but also comes along later and (spoiler alert!) eats the wild blueberry cake that she's baked for her party. But Pinny's consideration really does pay off in the end—it's the mischievous gull who returns her lost wishing rock.

Read Stephen Moss's "In Defense of Seagulls," and Julia Zarankin on her surprise at falling in love with gulls.

Pinny in Summer

6) Bake a Cake

I dare you to read Pinny in Summer and NOT be inspired to bake a wild blueberry cake. My children and I made this vanilla yogurt cake and mixed in a bag of (frozen—shameful, I know) blueberries at the end. The recipe is particularly great because it's specially designed for even the littlest kids to add the ingredients and stir up the batter, and indeed, it's very forgiving. 



Book Cover Pinny in Summer

These excerpts are taken from Pinny in Summer, text copyright © 2016 by Joanne Schwartz, illustrations copyright © 2016 by Isabelle Malenfant. Reproduced with permission from Groundwood Books, Toronto. 

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