Margaret Barnstable wished on a star one night-
North Star, star of the sea,
I wish for a ship
Named after me,
To sail for a day
Alone and free,
With someone nice
Welcome to week seven of the Bella Luna Toy's Summer Book Club! We can’t wait for you to snuggle up for this story about wishes fulfilled, the love between siblings, and sailing on the high seas! In this delightful picture book classic, (originally published in 1975) that is at once an adventure story and a comforting lullaby of a book, everyday objects like soup, storms, and siblings become part of the rhythm and the quiet action.
In The Maggie B, when Margaret Barnstable wishes on the star of the sea for her own vessel, she wakes up with her wish fulfilled and finds that she and her little brother have set sail on the sea “alone and free.” The comfy ship, named the Maggie B, is complete with a tiny farm including an apple, peach and orange tree bearing fruit. There is even a lovely toucan, eggs from chickens, and milk from the goats! Maggie fishes for lobster and fish to make a delicious stew with peaches topped with cinnamon and honey for dessert.
As they sail filling their bellies and riding the waves, a thunderstorm rises up but Captain Maggie battens down the hatches and plays her fiddle to calm her brother who is tucked snugly in his bunk. When this magical day comes to a close and Margaret wakes up in her own comfy bed, we are left wishing that we too will someday have a chance to set sail on a cozy ship just like the Maggie B with our favorite company.
Day One - Read & Discuss
Spend the first day of Book Club reading the story together with your children. Take your time reading, allowing them to digest the wonderfully detailed illustrations. Once you've finished the book, discuss what you've read. Encourage your children to ask about anything they are curious about, or tell you about their favorite part of the story or something it reminded them of. We have created a list of discussion questions you can also go over together!
If you wish for anything on a star, what would you wish for? Make a list of all the things you would wish for if all of your wishes could come true.
Who would be your “someone nice for company” if you set sail on the high seas?
Would you want to have an adventure like Maggie? What would your adventure look like if it were on a boat, plane, train, or even a dragon?
Is there anything that is missing from the Maggie B that you would bring to make it feel homey for you? What fruit trees would you want on board? What provisions or pieces from home would you bring on the ship?
How would you stay as calm as Maggie during the thunderstorm? When the storm begins, Maggie plays the fiddle. Do you have something that you use to calm your spirit down when things get a little scary?
Day Two: Draw & Write
Day Two is all about retelling and exploring the story more deeply. Set out a table with crayons, pencils, paper, and the book and encourage your children to write and draw. The prompt today is to imagine you're setting sail! Who will come along and where will you go? Tell us all about it! This can be done through writing or drawing, or even painting. Some children prefer not to draw or write and would rather play out the story, and that is great, too! Don't get caught up on being exact. Have fun with it, and encourage your children to engage the way that helps them remember the story best.
Day Three: Craft
Today we will head outside and make our own sea stew like the delicious dinner Margaret made on the Maggie B. You do not need a true mud kitchen to have fun in the mud. All you need is some dirt, water, and a few tools like bowls, measuring cups, and spoons.
After you have collected your kitchen tools, encourage your children to explore the nature around them to find their stew's ingredients. Margaret picked vegetables and herbs from the small farm on the deck of the Maggie B, then caught a fish and a lobster. Remind your children of these ingredients, and help them come up with ideas for what their stew will be made of. Pine cones can become the lobster, leaves become herbs, stones could be the grain, what would create the perfect vegetables?
"She chop-chop-chopped the vegetables and put them into the pot, and then in went the sweet-smelling herbs, the gleaming, glistening fish and the knobby, hard-shelled lobster."
Playing in the mud is a quintessential part of childhood. Giving this play a bit of direction helps inspire deeper, more imaginative play. When children can pull ideas from stories and integrate them into their play, they not only retain the story more easily, it also expands their imagination. All you need to do is provide a safe space with the right tools, and a small bit of guidance to get them started!
Join us next week for the final week of our Summer Book Club, where we will read Miss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler.