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The Picture Book Buzz

Monsters in the Briny - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Boy do I remember singing "What do you with a drunken sailor" with my grandpa. I didn't immediately put that song together with this book when I saw this awesome, intriguing cover. But reading the opening lines, I was transported back to dancing around and laughing with my grandpa. This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves pirates, singing, rhyme, sea creatures, and humor.

Monsters in the Briny

Author: Lynn Becker

Illustrator: Scott Brundage

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (2022)

Ages: 6-7



Pirates, rhyme, sea creatures, adventure, and fun


What do you do with a grumpy kraken, a sickly sea serpent, and a tearful gigantic tortoise? You sing them a tune, of course! Following the sea shanty rhyme of "What Do You Do With . . . ," a ship's crew of sailors has to contend with a coterie of mythical sea creatures, all demanding comfort and attention. As each creature threatens to swamp the ship, the quick-thinking crew knows just what to do to save the day, from serving pancakes to mopping a sweaty forehead to sharing an umbrella to keep the rain away. But what happens when the sailors have had enough? Back matter includes information about the sea creatures featured, music and lyrics, along with a brief history of sea shanties.

Opening Lines:

What do you do with a grumpy kracken?

Crabby, cranky, crusty kracken?

What do you do with a grumpy kracken?

Kracken in the briny.

What I Liked about this book:

Even if you don't know the original song, or (heaven-forbid) don't like pirates and adventures, I'd be willing to bet this opening spread captures your attention, imagination, and any singing ability you have.

Text © Lynn Becker, 2022. Image © Scott Brundage, 2022.

Share some jokes and your best riddle,

Feed her cakes from Cookie’s griddle,

Teach her how to bow the fiddle,

Kracken in the briny.

Beginning on the cover, featured in a spot illustration on the front end pages, and then found somewhere on almost every page [dangling from the Kracken & dancing on deck in the spread above] you'll find Scott Brundage's adorable pirate kid playing the accordion (yep, an accordion). It's a great bit of illustrative humor and light-heartedness kids will enjoy following throughout the book.

Image © Scott Brundage, 2022.

The illustrations are a feast! From the bright, bold colors and the spirited action, to the sensational facial expressions of the diverse cast of young pirates. And kids will also enjoy that there isn't an adult pirate in the entire book. So, what happens after the petite pirates cheer up the Kracken? Why the chorus, of course. [If you're interested, here is one version of the original sea shanty.]

Text © Lynn Becker, 2022. Image © Scott Brundage, 2022.

Yo! Ho! And ARRR! We’re flooding

Yo! Ho! The deck is mudding,

Yo! Ho! Our anchor’s thudding,

Kracken in the briny.

I love how Lynn and Scott offered visual, color-coded hints for the kids about the rhyming words. Using red, most of time (except here, when against the red of the kracken's arm). And speaking of rhyming words, fellow logophiles will find this book to be a delicacy. Lynn pulls no punches with her vocabulary. Of course I loved "briny," but I chuckled and oohed over "bilious," "slewing," "snafuing," "peevish," and the "famished, hangry Hydra." There are so many more delightful, delicious words and innovative rhymes that it is a pure treat to roll around the tongue. But I dare you to simply "read" it. I couldn't, not even from the beginning. And I know of others (who, *gasp,* don't even have kids) who've enjoyed singing this book. And wait until you get to the back matter! You get to play with "Aspidochelone!"

Okay, back to the plot. After the pirates encounter and cure a grumpy kracken, they clean up a scruffy sea goat, care for a sick sea serpent, cheer up an Aspidochelone, then feed a hydra. But the grumpiest, crankiest, surest thing to ruin the pirate's cruise is a ....... You didn't really expect I'd tell you, did you? I really hope that you get an opportunity to check out this lively and rollicking sea shanty picture book. Then dive into the back matter and learn a little about pirate lingo, shanties, and highlights about each featured monster. Plus, yep there's still more, for any musically inclined readers they offer the sheet music.

All playfulness and pirates aside, there is also a bit of SEL to the book as well. Suggesting ways to help friends when they are grumpy, sick, sad, hangry, or angry. All of which mostly involve spending time together, acknowledging their feelings, and sticking "with them through thick and thinning." This is one of the most fun picture books I've read this year. Teachers will love the alliteration, rollicking rhyming, playful nautical terms, general wordplay, and musicality. Overall, there is so much to enjoy; it's a terrific book for read (or sing) alongs.


- make a pirate boat and a couple of sea creatures. Play along with the book or make your favorite monster and you create your own verse.

- draw a picture, or write a description, of how the pirates would help your monster.

- check out the publisher's activity sheets.

- what do you do when you're grumpy, sad, and angry?

If you missed the interview of Lynn Becker Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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