Thursday, May 12, 2016

Learning from Picture Books – SMALL SAUL

After reading The Most Magnificent Thing, I am a big fan of Ashley Spires, and this one is another great book to read in a classroom!

Summary from the publisher:

Ahoy there! Will this sweet little pirate find his place aboard The Rusty Squid or will he be forced to walk the plank?

When Small Saul joins the crew of The Rusty Squid, it doesn't take long for the other pirates to notice something is very different about this tiny fellow. He was born to sing sea shanties, bake pineapple upside down cakes and redecorate, not to hold a sword and plunder. Being rough and tough just isn't in his nature.

Small Saul learned at Pirate College that pirates only care about three things: their ship, being tough and lots and lots of treasure. Can Small Saul show these ruffians that despite his gentle spirit, he's worth his weight in gold? With treasure chests of laughs, 
Small Saul's high-seas adventure is a light-hearted celebration of individuality, perseverance and being true to one's self.

Small Saul was written and illustrated by Ashley Spires. It was published by Kids Can Press in 2011.


“Small Saul loved the sea. He loved its vastness, its calmness, its blueness.”

My thoughts as a writer:

I really liked the opening of this book, especially with the dynamic angle that was chosen for the perspective of the first illustration. The introduction of Saul going to Pirate College was a lot of fun. There are lots of small details in the illustrations to add humor to the story.

My thoughts as a teacher:

The story is fun (always a great way to get kids to pay attention), but there are also some great opportunities for discussions about how it’s okay to be yourself and follow your own path. There is also a theme of perseverance in the way Saul tried different ways to fit in with the pirate crew.

Ages: 4 – 8

Grades: K - 3

Themes: individuality, perseverance, pirates, adventure


What do you think pirates need to learn at Pirate College? Make a list.

Draw a treasure map and label it.

Make puppets and a pirate ship and act out the story of Small Saul.

The publisher also provided some ideas for using this book in the classroom.

What would you ask the author if you could? Here's an interview where she answers some student questions:


  1. What a unique pirate story, along with a Pirate School! I love the theme of being true to oneself in this cute story. Great choice!

  2. Pirate books are always great fun. I'll be adding this one to my collection.

  3. Sounds like a blast! Love the cover!

  4. Oh, this sounds hilarious! Will have to pick it up. Thanks!

  5. Ooooh, and she's saving the shark for the next one! Nice teaser!


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