Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

#HomesCool Pop Up Books for Little Learners

Twirl Books is releasing incredible new books for little learners. I was thrilled to receive a big box of their new and upcoming books, and I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far. This post looks at two pop-up nonfiction titles for preschoolers that are going to love. Make space in your easy nonfiction and board book libraries: Twirl is taking over.

The Pop-Up Guide: Space, by Sophie Dussaussois/Illustrated by Charline Picard, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791036325199

Ages 3-5

A pop-up guide to space is just what the budding astronomer ordered! Ten spreads open up to reveal 3-D starscapes, our solar system, the lunar landing, the International Space Station, and more. Brief paragraphs provide a factual overview of each spread, and pictures are labeled to increase readers’ science vocabulary, with terms and proper nouns including “observatory”, “centrifuge”, “Buzz Aldrin”, and “Curiosity rover”. Illustrations are colorful and informative, with detail to engage readers. The pages are sturdy, but you’ll want to buy a copy to keep in reference to be on the safe side. Elastic bands on the corners of the front cover make for a nice hands-free reading experience, letting kids examine every inch of the illustrations on each spread. I can’t wait to see what other Pop-Up Guides Twirl has planned!


Ultimate Spotlight: Rain Forest Animals, by Sandra Laboucarie/Illustrated by Émilie Lapeyre, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791027608775

Ages 4-7

The Ultimate Spotlight series from Twirl is also has pop-up panels, but adds other interactive features like lift-the-flaps, movable tabs, and turn-the-wheel. Five spreads take readers through a rain forest, where they can see a 3-D representation of the layered forest, from ground up through emergent layer; play hide and seek with camouflaged denizens of the forest; meet animal families; discover gliding animals and see how they move, and explore a foldout visualizing of the rain forest by day and at night. Animals are clearly labeled and brief, factual sentences provide exciting new facts for animal fans. Pages will hold up to a lot of reading, but I’d consider a backup copy if your budget allows. I’d also reinforce the spines of both books with library tape if you have it; these are going to be heavily circulated. Illustrations are colorful, with the vibrant colors of the rain forests and its citizens nicely represented. Kids are going to love this and the other books in the Ultimate Spotlight series: Savanna Animals, Dinosaurs, Firefighters, Trains, and Astronauts.

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Follow a fish’s journey to the sea in The River

the_river_cover_croppedThe River: An Epic Journey to the Sea, by Patricia Hegarty/Illustrated by Hanako Clulow (March 2016, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-61067-468-3

Recommended for ages 3-6

A little fish begins her journey in the snowcapped mountains, traveling downriver and passing through forests, past animals going about their days and nights, until finally reaching the sea in this rhyming tale with a little something extra to capture little eyes and minds: the book is die-cut, with a lenticular window that gives the illusion of a three-dimensional swimming fish!

Beautifully illustrated by Hanako Clulow, each spread depicts a different scene in nature, progressing through the seasons as the fish makes her journey. We see the wildlife, weather, and surroundings change, and the gentle, rhyming text sets the reader in each location; whether watching geese fly overhead, beavers scamper, and an owl, hooting softly in the moonlight. The moving fish is a constant, ever swimming toward her destination.

The pages are sturdy and will hold up to multiple readings, which is a good thing – I’m pretty sure this book will demand it! This book has entered my 3 year old’s regular rotation, and we’re at the point where he now “makes the fish swim” by holding the book as I read. I’ll be bringing this to my toddler storytime this Thursday, where I’m sure it will get rave reviews: anything to hold their attention!

I love this book and would love to see more in a series for little ones. It’s a great way to introduce nature and nonfiction in a fun, interactive way. I am a little worried about how this would hold up in circulation, because of the die-cut and the lenticular fish, because the kids at my library are very enthusiastic readers. That said, I’m going to give it a shot and order a couple of copies to test the waters. I think it will be a great read-aloud for my class visits, too; the teachers I’ve seen lately have asked for more nonfiction books during the read-aloud portion of the visit, and I think this would be a fun, educational read for the Kindergarteners.

Enjoy the book trailer for The River, and consider adding this one to your collections.

Illustrator Hanako Clulow’s webpage has more of her illustrations, links to her Etsy shop, and a cover reveal for her upcoming book, “Above and Below”.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Like science news with a fun spin? Check out Brain Bug Mag!

I’m always trying to get kids to read. It’s a librarian, it’s what I do. I’m also constantly on the lookout for fun ways to get them creating and learning about science – yes, I’m one of those STEM/STEAM wannabe librarians. When Brain Bug Magazine got in touch with me and asked me to check out an issue of their “gross science magazine”, I jumped at the chance. Come on, gross science? Those two words are gold to a children’s librarian!


This fifth issue of Brain Bug is their 3-D issue, and comes with a nifty pair of 3-D glasses! No old school red and blue, though – these are clear, chromadepth glasses that you can use to make images in the magazine pop, and use them for cool stuff like checking out the night sky, or a picture with cooler colors in the background (like, blue) and warmer colors in the foreground (like, red). Other great features in this issue include articles on the origins of 3-D, an profile on 3-D printing, an interview with two chemists, and comics galore.

3d printing sample

The magazine is aimed at middle schoolers; I’d also suggest 4th and 5th graders. There’s a real ‘zine spirit to it, which I love; a really independent spirit, and the artwork is largely comics illustration, to appeal to all learners, especially visual learners that may be turned off by a chunks of intimidating science-y text. The interview with the two chemists, for instance, is illustrated – such a great spin on publishing a traditional interview! Brain Bug doesn’t dumb down information, either: there’s technical terms used and explained, in language that treats the kids as intelligent learners.

There are some fun comics in here – regular features, I’m pretty sure – including a group of Super Foods that are fighting the good fight against junk and processed foods; Grillboy, chronicling the adventures of a grill cook who’s less than enthusiastic about his job, and the Pun Police, who patrol the magazine in search of awful puns.


I really enjoyed the magazine, but I know mine would be wrecked in circulation. I’d consider getting one subscription for myself to keep as a reference copy and let the kids look at it and pull projects and ideas from it, for sure, and I think it would be a good addition to classroom or school libraries. It’s $50 for six issues, $35 for four issues, and they offer reduced rates to librarians and educators. Check out their online store for back issues and subscription info.