Mr Minuscule and the Whale – book review and Lego craft

Are you a parent of a child who loves adventures and dreams of exploring the world? Would you like to introduce your children to quality Polish literature, but you don’t speak more Polish than “piwo” and “pierogi“? Or – like me – are you a tired, sleep deprived mum, who’s looking for fun, short books and simple crafts that don’t require two shopping carts of supplies and two hours of cleaning after the craft is done?

Then, you will definitely enjoy Mr Minuscule and the Whale by Julian Tuwim as much as we did!

Mr Minuscule and the Whale is a rhyming tale of a tiny explorer who set off to the sea in a wallnut shell to make his big dream come true: meet a big blue whale. Much to his disappointment, he only finds a huge island…..or maybe he’s wrong?

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The story of Mr Minuscule has been a timeless classic in Poland, loved by three generations. The author, Julian Tuwim (1894-1953), was a renowned author of poetry for children and adults and a leading figure in Polish literature.

Since its first publication millions of copies of this book sold in Poland alone. In 2008 the Polish publishing house  Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry published a new edition of this popular title.

In 2009, Mr Minuscule and the Whale was translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and published by  Book Island, a UK-based publishing house that does an amazing job introducing children to quality world literature. Their work is very important in particular to people who were not taught their heritage language by their parents and who can now introduce their children to literature from their heritage country as well as to all young readers, parents and teachers with an interest in world literature.

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My boys didn’t read the poem in Polish before, but as soon as I started to read the tale in English they got engaged in the story. They invited all their fluffy animals to our reading party and you must know that it’s a rare treat in our house; the boys are convinced that their fluffy friends only deserve the best books.

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Unfortunately I can’t tell you if the racoon and the rest of the crew liked the story, but the boys definitely did. The book is written in simple language , so it’s suitable for children who learn English as a foreign language.

The boys found the story interesting and funny. They easily identified with the character; a little, brave man with a big dream.

After we read about everything that the main character packed for his journey, I asked the kids to find all those objects on the illustration. The boys learned a few new words in English, such as “a rifle” , “a cannon” and “a gramophone”.That’s what I love about classic stories; they introduce children to objects and traditions that are often forgotten today.

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The story is written in past simple, which is a good opportunity to introduce or review this tense with English learners. I do not teach English grammar to my children yet, but when we read the story, I told them that some words are used in a different form when we talk about what happened in the past and I asked them to tell me the “basic” forms of those words. I also asked them to make  sentences in past simple with the words they learned from the book.

My kids found it hilarious that Mr Minuscule fit so much stuff in a tiny wallnut shell and immediately wanted to see if their Lego figures can travel in a wallnut shell, too.

Can you guess what craft we did that evening?

A NUTSHELL BOAT FOR MY LEGO CHARACTER

Materials:

  • plasticine/play dough
  • nutshells
  • leaves
  • matches
  • Lego characters of your child’s choice

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Instructions:

  1. Carefully divide a nutshell into halves.
  2. Put a little plasticine/play dough at the bottom of a nutshell.
  3. Make a mast using a leaf and a match and stick it in the play dough.
  4. Place the Lego figure on the boat. You’re ready to float! 😉

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Nice and easy, isn’t it?

When the craft was finished, we filled a bowl with water and the boys let their boats float for a while.

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Not the most comfy trip in the world, right? 😉

 

We hope that you will enjoy this book and craft!

 

 

 

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