The Fox and the Forest Fire, by Danny Popovici, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781797202822
A boy and his mom move to a home on the edge of a forest. While the boy isn’t thrilled at first, he grows to love his new home after forming a friendship with some of the local forest animals, including a friendly fox. When he discovers smoke on the horizon one morning, he rushes home to tell his mother, and they evacuate. When they finally return home, they see the destruction that the fire has caused, but he knows they will rebuild. After all, “the forest knows what to do after a fire. And so do we. A realistic story of something most of us only see and hear about on the news, The Fox and the Forest Fire is written by former forest firefighter Danny Popovici, who talks about his experience as a firefighter in an author’s note; he also provides more information about wildfires and the havoc they wreak on the local wildlife and their home. He tells a sensitive, powerful story filled with friendship and hope as the boy and his mother look to the forest animals for inspiration as they rebuild their lives after the fire. For those of us who have only read about wildfires, or seen them on the evening news, Popovici approaches his topic with sensitivity but packs an emotional punch for readers. Have books like NatGeo Kids’s Extreme Wildfire and direct kids to resources like Tree Removal’s section on wildfires, Smokey the Bear’s page on wildfires, with games and coloring sheets, and Surfing and STEM’s Wildfires Emergency Plan worksheet set from TeachersPayTeachers.
Publisher Chronicle has a free educator’s guide with insightful discussion questions and extra resources. Danny Popovici’s website has more of his illustration work available.
Farm Lullaby, by Karen Jameson/Illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452181035
All is quiet around the farm as animal families settle down for the night. Farm Lullaby is gentle, loving bedtime reading, with Golden Book, retro-feel illustrations of farm animals settling in with their babies for the night, set to rhyming couplets: “Neigh-a-bye lullaby / Slowly swaying rock-a-bye; Nuzzle nose, breathing deep / Plodding, nodding off to sleep”. Horses, cows, sheep, pigs, all gather together to bed down for the night as silhouettes of human families get their little ones ready for bed. An owl keeps watch overnight. Endpapers present a field of ducklings by day and by night. A tender story to relax the littles and send them off to sleep while encouraging cuddle time between parents and children.
Perfect for lapsit and pajama storytimes. TeachersPayTeachers has some fun, free printables to have handy for farm animal storytimes, including a mini-book of animals and their sounds from Tea Time Monkeys and Renee N’s farm animals count and read mini book.
A Cub Story, by Kristen Tracy/Illustrated by Alison Farrell, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781452174587
Follow a bear cub through a year in this lovely board book that shows readers a little one’s place in the big world. To some, cub is big. To others, he’s quite small. He may eat a lot compared to a hedgehog, but very little, compared to a moose. He plays, explores, and looks for food alongside other animal friends, and in doing so, educates little readers about bears and the seasons. Mixed media illustrations in muted colors show Cub frolicking in a verdant springtime forest; playing games in the summer; fishing in the fall, and hunkering down with his family in their den, ready to hibernate through the winter. Text is informational but presented in short, readable sentences that give toddlers and preschoolers enough information to delight them and let them engage in imaginative play. Pair this one with Farm Lullaby and Dianne White’s Winter Lullaby for a cuddly bedtime storytime.
A Cub Story has a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
Hornswoggled! A Wacky Words Whodunit, by Josh Crute/Illustrated by Jenn Harney, (Nov. 2021, Page Street Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781645672845
Finishing strong with a funny book that plays with language and invites readers to unleash their inner Poirot and Miss Marple! Deer wakes up to a shocking discovery: one of his antlers has been replaced with a tennis racket! He’s been HORNSWAGGLED! When Deer heads over to tell his friend Catfish what’s happened, Catfish puts on her glasses to discover that someone’s replaced her glasses with donuts! What a load of CODSWALLOP! Someone is taking everyone’s stuff and replacing them with the wackiest items, causing a big stir! Luckily a helpful armadillo is there to let us know what all these funny-sounding words are, and teach kids a bunch of new animal-based vocabulary words. Will they catch the thief? Who else will fall victim? Readers will love the hilarious story and have a blast trying to figure out who’s behind the crime spree… keep an eye on the endpapers for some clues! Digital artwork creates cartoony animals with bold outlines and hilariously expressive facial expressions. Absolute fun, a must for storytime and language collections. Make up some flash cards – make it fun by having a volunteer hold up cards during the storytime, just like Armadillo!
Author Josh Crute has a Hornswoggled activity kit free for download at his website, including a word meaning activity.