Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Two nonfiction titles get updates ¡en español!

Peachtree Publishing has been rolling out more Spanish-language and bilingual children’s titles. They’ve started translating their Stanley the Hamster series into Spanish this year, and I just received early copies of two of their nonfiction titles, coming in 2021. I’m so excited to talk them up!

Sobre los anfibios: Una guía para niños, by Cathryn Sill/Ilustraciones de John Sill, (Feb. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $8.99, ISBN: 9781682632307

Ages 4-6

The first up is About Reptiles: A Guide for Children, a 2016 titles by Cathryn Sill and John Sill. Great reading, perfect for pre-k and emerging Kindergarten readers, this book is illustrated in full color, with incredibly detailed pictures of salamanders, frogs, and toads. Each page has a brief sentence in Spanish that introduces readers to different aspects of amphibians: “Los anfibios tienen la piel suave y húmeda” (“Amphibians have smooth, moist skin”); “La mayoría de los anfibios pasa parte de su vida en el agua y parte en la tierra” (“Most amphibians spend part of their lives in water and part on land”). The text goes on to describe how they are born; life cycles; appearance; predators and defense mechanisms; habitat, and eating habits. A word about protecting their habitats is a nice opportunity to talk about the environment and habitat protection. Each page includes the name of a featured amphibian and maps to a numbered series of photos in the back matter, which provides more information for more confident readers, and parents/caregivers/educators who want to provide a deeper dive into a lesson. A glossary, web sources, and additional books provide a nice go-to for readers who want to learn more.

There is a teacher’s guide available via the publisher’s website; it’s currently in English, but I know they are developing materials in Spanish and will update as I learn more.

 

Sobre los reptiles: Una guía para niños, by Cathryn Sill/Ilustraciones de John Sill, (Feb. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $8.99, ISBN: 9781682632314

Ages 4-6

About Reptiles: A Guide for Children, also by Cathryn Sill and John Sill, provides the same easy text and lifelike animal illustrations. The translation is flawless, and communicates the important, basic properties of reptiles for kids: “Algunos repitles están cubiertos de placas duras como huesos” (“Some reptiles are covered in hard plates like bones”); “Los reptiles tienen las patas cortas o simplemente no tienen patas” (“Reptiles have short legs or simply no legs”); “Se muevan reptando o nadando” (“They move by crawling or swimming”). There’s more to work with here; reptiles can include snakes, tortoises and turtles, lizards, and crocodiles, which can live on land, in water, or move between both. Great, fast facts, easy reading, and further information available makes this series a huge relief for my easy nonfiction collection.

There’s a real need for Spanish-language nonfiction in my library’s community, and these books fit the bill. I love having easy picture book nonfiction available that can be used in a Discovery/STEM club readaloud, a storytime (come on, you know you want to read this along with Jump Frog, Jump!), even using flannels to let readers discover the natural world. With an $8.99 price tag for these softcovers, this is an affordable way to add series nonfiction to my Spanish collection. I’m thrilled that Peachtree is working on expanding their Spanish language collection: there are other bilingual editions at the end of the books, letting readers know what other titles are coming.

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

NatGeo Readers shine a spotlight on Women’s History

March is Women’s History Month – do you have your displays up? I feel like I’m a hundred years behind, but thankfully, my saving grace is that I merchandise as I go, so I’ll pull a few books out as I wander my room, make sure they’re face-out, and pique the kids’ interest as they wander the stacks. Teachers Pay Teachers has me covered again, thank goodness, as does Education.com. I’ve got printables galore thanks to these two sites; everything from trading cards to coloring sheets, for which I’m hugely grateful.

Biographies are always good to have on hand, especially when those research projects come up. NatGeo Kids’s leveled Easy Reader series is a big help for collections geared toward younger readers.

Susan B. Anthony, by Kitson Jazynka, (Dec. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $4.99, ISBN: 9781426335082

Ages 5-7

The Level 1 Co-Readers also provide a nice bonding opportunity, with a “You Read/I Read” format that lets a grownup read a page with denser text, but with fact boxes and color photos and illustrations that allow for discussion. The “I Read” page has bigger, bolder text, simpler vocabulary, and repeated new vocabulary words that let a new reader try out words they’ve just read with their grownup.

Susan B. Anthony’s biography introduces readers to the feminist pioneer, with information about her upbringing, her background as a teacher, her friendships with Frederick Douglass and work with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with whom she traveled, speaking about women’s suffrage. Five “Your Turn!” sections present discussion questions and invite readers to come up with their own viewpoints on causes they believe in, differences between school in Susan B. Anthony’s time versus the present, and how to hold an election (voting on artwork, they start the kids off gently!). Loaded with photos from primary sources and helpful, quick call-out fact boxes, this is a nice introduction to women’s history for readers becoming more comfortable with informative text. There’s a Susan B. Anthony coloring page available for free on Education.com, which will make a nice addition to a reading.

 

Harriet Tubman, by Barbara Kramer, (Dec. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $4.99, ISBN: 9781426337215

Ages 6-8

Level 2 readers are the next Easy Reader step, good for kids ready to work on greater informational text, with more vocabulary. There are fact boxes, “Words to Know” boxes that define new vocabulary words, and a timeline of the subject’s life; in this case, abolitionist, spy, and activist Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman’s biography begins with her childhood as a slave named Araminta; her escape via the Underground Railroad and continued work in leading slaves to freedom along the Railroad, her work as a Northern spy during the Civil War, and her postwar life and work with the African American elderly. Spaced between the denser text about Harriet Tubman’s life are spreads with chunked facts like, “In Her Time”, where readers can learn facts about life as a slave in 1820s America, “6 Cool Facts About Harriet Tubman”, and a quiz. Readers can discover Ms. Tubman’s own words with “In Her Own Words” quote boxes throughout the text. There are incredible photos of Harriet Tubman and primary sources (newspapers, Tubman’s hymnal), maps, and artwork.

Great for newly confident independent readers, perfect for a circle time or history readaloud, this Harriet Tubman biography is a brilliant, compact introduction for readers to an iconic figure in history. Education.com has a free, downloadable Harriet Tubman coloring sheet to have handy, too.

 

Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties, by Sue Macy, (Feb. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781426336768

Ages 8-12

Welcome to the Roaring Twenties! A hundred years ago, things were very, very different: we didn’t have Title IX protecting girls’ and women’s rights to compete in school sports, for starters, but women found ways to get it done. Breaking Through travels through the original Roaring Twenties, a decade where women, having just secured the right to vote, are ready to take on more. But women in athletics? Perish the thought! Each chapter takes on a different year in the 1920s and profiles the women who fought their way into the athletic arena and the critics who opposed them. There are reprints from news stories, black and white photos and full-color artwork, and historical events that place readers fully in the context of each year. While Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license, was making headlines in 1922, for instance, the National Women’s Party began their campaign for an Equal Rights Amendment (and we’re still waiting, folks); archaeologist Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the Charleston was the dance rage. Each year profiles a Trailblazer whose dedication to the sport opened the door for generations to come. An epilogue looks at where women in sports are now, from Wilma Rudolph to Billie Jean King to Megan Rapinoe. A timeline, Defining Moments in Women’s Sports, looks at 15 major highs and lows of women’s athletics. Resources are available for further research. Breaking Through is a needed history of women’s athletics, perfect for middle graders.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

My First Book of New York: See All the Sights!

My First Book of New York, by Ingela P. Arrhenius, (Sept. 2019, Walker Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536209907

Ages 3-7

Artist Ingela P. Arrenhuis is quickly becoming a favorite early childhood author illustrator of mine. Her Christmas and Halloween board books and her large picture book, City, are adorably illustrated, with bright, bold, eye-catching colors that early readers and learners are immediately drawn to. Similar to City, My First Book of New York is an oversized book and gives readers an armchair tour of the boroughs I love so much, with bright white and orange endpapers loaded with New York icons: the Statue of Liberty; the Flatiron Building, subway cars, pizza, hot pretzels, and more. Each spread introduces readers to a different area of New York: 4 of the five boroughs are spotlighted (sorry, Staten Island), with New York City getting most of the space: Rockefeller Center, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, Harlem, Central Park, Wall Street, Times Square, and Broadway all get their moments to shine here, as do activities like shopping, structures including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Grand Central Station, and destinations like museums. There is brief text introducing the attraction to place readers; the left hand page is a full-page illustration of each selection; the right hand page is dedicated to placing the reader within that area by showcasing attractions around it: shopping, for instance, features an illustration of shoppers crossing Fifth Avenue; on the right hand side, illustrations of Tiffany & Co., Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Saks Fifth Avenue windows, FAO Schwarz, Union Square Greenmarket, a SoHo boutique, and a limousine all place the reader.

This is the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to it. My First Book of London, Austin, Texas, or Chicago, anyone?

Posted in Conferences & Events, Early Reader, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Kevin McCloskey, Giggle & Learn, Ants and Pigeon Poop: It’s all good here!

Kevin McCloskey is one of my favorite graphic novelists. What does he draw, you ask? Spidey? The Avengers? X-Men?

Nope. He creates science graphic novels for the little ones, examine such subjects as snail goo, pigeon and worm poop, and foot-long goldfish. Sometimes, he paints his pictures on recyclable grocery bags, because he believes in recycling. Most importantly, he creates nonfiction that speaks to young learners in a way that engages their minds and their funny bones, talking about the funny, gross, and awesome parts of nature and making them equally… amazing.

Ants Don’t Wear Pants!, by Kevin McCloskey, (Sept. 2019, TOON Books), $$12.95, ISBN: 9781943145454

Ages 4-7

Who here hasn’t been told, “You have ants in your pants!” while growing up? With that phrase, Kevin McCloskey sets readers off on the study of ants: biology and physiology, life cycle, food, kinds of ants, and what they eat. The book is loaded with fun facts and illustrations, like the one of an ant bench pressing an apple, combined with a picture of a child lifting a car, to bring home the fact that an ant can lift up to 50 times its own weight, and what that would mean to us human folk. The front endpapers have hundreds and hundreds of ants, with one magnified under a magnifying glass, greeting readers and inviting them to come and learn. This is the newest in Kevin McCloskey’s Giggle and Learn series of graphic novels for young learners, published by TOON, and I love it. My kiddo’s first McCloskey book was We Dig Worms (2015), which I read to him when he was barely out of the toddler years, and he loved it, because the material is accessible and fun. A lesson plan is coming soon!

 

The Real Poop on Pigeons!, by Kevin McCloskey, (Sept. 2019, TOON Books), $6.99, ISBN: 9781943145430

Ages 4-7

Originally published in 2016, The Real Poop on Pigeons! is coming to paperback. When a man sitting on the park bench starts shooing pigeons away, a group of children, dressed as pigeons, show up to school him – and us readers – on pigeon history – they carried the first airmail! – and biology, breeding, and pigeon milk. (Read the book. You can’t buy this in Stop & Shop.) There are some great pigeon family tree revelations here, like the fact that the Dodo was a member of the pigeon family. A three-foot pigeon! Ever wonder why you haven’t seen a baby pigeon? Read the book! The Real Poop on Pigeons is yet another win from Kevin McCloskey, and another win for young readers.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Real-Life Paw Patrol: NatGeo Kids brings you Doggy Defenders!

This has to be one of the most adorable easy nonfiction series I’ve come across yet: National Geographic Kids has a new series, Doggy Defenders, that introduces readers to working dogs: Willow, The Therapy Dog; Tiger, the Police Dog; Dolley, the Fire Dog; and Stella, the Search Dog. Look at these doggies!

from NatGeoKIDS Twitter @NGKIDS

Each book introduces us to a working dog, their humans, and takes us through a training session and a workday. Stella the Search dog and her human, Trooper Diaz, find a lost hiker; plus, she gets to ride in a helicopter and wears sunglasses! Tiger the Police Dog works with Officer Rodriguez and inspects the Washington, DC Metro. Dolley the Fire Dog and her human, Captain Herndon, teach kids about fire safety and then get to work, where Dolley sniffs out the cause of a fire. Willow the Therapy Dog and her human, Megan, cheer people up by visiting a hospital, a school, a retirement home, and a library.

Each book includes back matter on the team, including a Q&A with the human half of each team, and safety and kindness tips for readers to remember. The books have short, easy-to-read sentences with loads of sight words, making this a great step up for early readers who are ready to take on more challenging material. And the photos! The photos! Look at Stella and her sunglasses!

And here’s Willow with Megan!

I love these books, and hope we get more in this series. These work as early nonfiction career books, too; they can function as companion books to books on firefighters, police, and therapists. The kids in my library will gobble them up, and my kiddo devoured all four the day they arrived at my home. Got Paw Patrol fans? Show them these books and tell them these are the real Paw Patrol dogs! Visit National Geographic Kids’ Doggy Defenders site for a slideshow and more information about the books.

 

Stella the Search Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3449-8

Willow the Therapy Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3447-4

Tiger the Police Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3297-5

Dolley the Fire Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3229-9

Ages 3-7

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Read, Learn & Create: The Nature Craft Book is great for kids!

Hi, all! I know my posting schedule has been off the last several weeks, and I ask you all to bear with me. I’ve received a promotion and am getting into the swing of things at my new library (actually one of my first; I went back to my home away from home in Corona). I’ve been reading and furiously scribbling notes, though! More on the new digs shortly. For now, it’s back to my reviews!

The Nature Craft Book, by Clare Beaton, (May 2019, Charlesbridge), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-58089-843-0

Ages 3=

I LOVE nature crafts, and I love easy nature crafts. My first grader has a real love for wandering the neighborhood, collecting various leaves, snail shells, sticks, rocks… anything that strikes his fancy, and we’ve gone on some great nature walks in our neighborhood and local parks. I even brought home acorns from Rochester, NY for him when I was there for a library conference. He loved them!

The Nature Craft Book is part of Charlesbridge’s Read, Learn & Create series (there’s an Ocean Craft Book, too!) is is loaded with ideas, templates, and facts for you and your kids to enjoy. Every craft is created with a respect for nature and our environment; a note at the beginning mentions that “it’s hard for some plants and creatures to survive where factories or farms have replaced wild places”, and encourages kids to “attract wildlife” by planting wildlife-friendly plants and flowers, putting water out for birds, and keeping nature journals. It fosters a real love and respect for our world. Activities include different bird feeders, toilet paper tube owls, leaf printing, animal finger puppets. The crafts give us a chance to reuse household objects like yogurt containers, hangers, and tissue boxes, and to create with found objects like pine combs and twigs. Even little crafters can get in on the fun, coloring and creating simple, enjoyable art.  Facts about birds, freshwater wildlife, raccoons, and other wildlife give readers a quick, overall idea of different animals and plants. The crafts are easy and can be done on a budget, which makes this spot-on for me at home or at work. My kiddo and I have already created a couple of craft projects from here and are planning winter bird feeders for our backyard. The collage artwork is adorable and labeled to introduce kids to different kinds of animals, trees, and leaves.

Grab this series for your shelves. I know I will.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Kane Miller’s Shine-a-Light series goes to the library!

At the Library (Shine-a-Light), by Heather Alexander/Illustrated Ipek Konak, (Jan. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678230

Ages 4-8

The Shine-a-Light series from Kane Miller adds a fun dimension to nonfiction reading: hold each right-hand page to the light to see a hidden image. At the Library is a nice introduction to libraries for younger readers who are new to what libraries can do and offer. Each page asks questions that can be answered by shining a light on the pages: find a mother reading to her baby; learn some of the rules of the library (we don’t really enforce that “no loud talking or making noise” business, but it is nice if you’re relatively quiet and respectful); and take in a puppet show or a storytime. The artwork within the body of the book has soft colors and black and white pages to allow for the “hidden” pictures to shine through and the questions allow for interaction between a reader and the storytime audience. The book even covers bookmobiles and little free libraries, plus a quick trip to the Library of Congress. A back section features some of the more unique items in collections around the world, including the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear that inspired A.A. Milne’s tales; a snow globe collection, and the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets on the day he died.

My 6-year-old really enjoys this series, and my storytime group at my last library loved seeing what went on in outer space. I’ve got a class visit that I’m going to introduce to At the Library this week – let’s see how it goes! The Shine-a-Light series is a fun addition to nonfiction collections, and punches up a nonfiction storytime, and there’s a bunch to choose from.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books

Seashells: More Than a Home, more than decoration

Seashells: More Than a Home, by Melissa Stewart/Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen, (Apr. 2019, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781580898102

Ages 6-9

Kids love seashells. They’re the ultimate summer souvenir, coming in all shapes and sizes, with beautiful patterns and colors. Seashells: More Than a Home looks at 13 different seashells and lets readers in on their little world: their colors, patterns, and functions in protecting the marine life that live within them, keeping them safe and fed. For instance, a nautilus’s design allows it to sink and float like a submarine, while the screw-shaped burribella can anchor itself into the sand, allowing its sea snail to stay in place. Watercolor illustrations and soothing earth and sea colors make this a beautiful book to look at and learn from. Endpapers illustrate shells and a map, highlighting their locations, and back matter includes author and illustrator notes, and additional resources.

Seashells: More Than a Home is a companion to Melissa Stewart and Sarah Brannen’s book, Feathers: Not Just for Flying (2014) and a nice addition to nonfiction shelves and STEM storytimes. Get some seashells and pass them around; invite the kids to talk about what they see and feel. Melissa Stewart’s author website has free, downloadable educator activities, readers’ theatre scripts, and curriculum guides.

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

It’s Spring… time to raise the butterflies!

Butterflies in Room 6, by Caroline Arnold, (March 2019, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781580898942

Ages 3-7

Spring is getting closer and closer, and that means that science classrooms all over the place are going to introduce their little ones to the life cycle of a caterpillar/butterfly. We’ve done it in my home, and each of my kids has done it in school, and it’s exciting every time. Butterflies in Room 6 revisits the Kindergarten students of Room 6 – a new group, since Hatching Chicks in Room 6 was published in 2017 – as they raise butterflies, starting from teeny, tiny caterpillar eggs.

Full-color photographs and informative text take this STEM/STEAM story through the step-by-step process by which the class observed and cared for their caterpillars; feeding them, observing the stages of life, moving the chrysalises to a larger, netted environment, the exciting emergence of the painted lady butterflies from their cocoons, and their release into the world! Leaf-shaped callouts throughout the book provide additional caterpillar and butterfly facts, and back matter provides butterfly questions, vocabulary, and a nice list of online and print resources for further reading.

Butterflies in Room 6 brings a real-world look into a primary classroom – it’ll get kids excited about science, especially if this is one of your classroom projects. Pair this with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the classic that my kids all read in their kindergarten classes, Deborah Heiligman’s From Caterpillar to Butterfly.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Natural world nonfiction for young learners: See to Learn: Forest

See to Learn: Forest, by Kate Moss Gamblin/Illustrated by, Karen Patkau, (March 2019, Groundwood Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781554988792

Ages 4-7

This first book in a new nonfiction picture book series encourages little learners to look at a location – in this case, a forest – and really see: see different footprints that travel the forest floor; the different leaves carpeting the ground; moss covering a stump. Forest encourages readers to think: is that moss older than your grandparents? What changes do seasons bring with them? What happens during the passage of day to night?

The quiet text promotes introspection, curiosity, and presence, and the interrelationships between nature – trees are referred to as our “cousins” – and our planet. Everything here exists for readers to observe and ponder, and Forest encourages them to think of nature, the world, and their place in it.

This is a great way to talk about the natural world and basic concepts with kids: talk about colors, talk about different functions, talk about different stages of life, whether you’re a human grandparent or a young caterpillar. We all age; we all exist; we all interact with the natural world. Let kids see themselves in nature, and they’ll respect it and care for it. Further reading provides additional resources for younger and middle grade readers. An author’s note explains the rationale and thinking points for the series.

I’m looking forward to more books in this series. See to Learn: Forest is a great addition to primary and elementary science collections and programming. This will fit nicely with Kate Messner’s nonfiction books, Over and Under the Snow, Over and Under the Pond, and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, for elementary readers; for primary readers, you can’t miss with Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s books, Green and Blue; and Denise Fleming’s In the Tall, Tall Grass, and In the Small, Small Pond.