Posted in Uncategorized

Pack your bags, we’re going to Antarctica!

Antarctica: Continent of Wonder, by Mario Cuesta Hernando/Illustrated by Raquel Martin, (June 2021, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791374567

Ages 5-8

Are you ready for a journey? Antarctica: Continent of Wonder begins with an invitation to adventure: the narrator has been invited by the United States Antarctic Program to an expedition to Antarctica, and we’re coming along! As we voyage through the colorful pages of this oversize book, we’ll encounter penguins, whales, and seals, watch our shop break through large packs of floating ice, and hunker down in the research station during a snowstorm. Very easy to read, interactive, and with a visually interesting and effective table of contents, this is a great introduction to Antarctica for kids. Facts about the continent pair with spotlights on famed researchers, like Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott; a section on dangers Antarctica faces alerts readers to conservation and environmental concerns like climate change, overfishing, and pollution.

I recently did a “Big Book” virtual readers advisory program with a colleague at my library, because these oversized books may not always get the love they deserve. With beautiful spreads showing humpback whales breaching against a backdrop of ice-covered mountains, or scientists making themselves at home in the research station while a snowstorm rails outside, I can’t wait to show this off at my next Big Book reveal. Give this to your armchair explorers. Revisit NatGeo’s 2020 Virtual Summer in Antarctica for videos and activities to share with your kiddos.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction

Survival nonfiction: Lost in the Antarctic (and a giveaway!)

Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance, by Tod Olson, (Jan. 2019, Scholastic), $7.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-20734-7

The latest entry into Tod Olson’s Lost series takes a deeper look into Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 voyage to the Antarctic aboard the fated ship, the Endurance. Shackleton and a full complement of 28 men and a few dozen sled dogs boarded the ship, ready to attempt the first crossing of the Antarctic continent; nature had different ideas as the ship and crew endured oceans of ice that trapped and eventually crushed the ship, leaving the men to fend for themselves on the ice.

This is not a gentle story. Tod Olson writes of desperate men trapped in horrific conditions, fighting to survive; the story has riveting, gritty moments that will make the brutal world of the Antarctic come alive. Photos and details from primary sources, including Shackleton’s own journal, make the story come alive for readers. Have readers who love Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived series (seriously, who doesn’t)? This is the next step. Want to make fiction readers love nonfiction just as much? This is the series for you and them.

I don’t know how I wasn’t aware of this series before: there are four books so far, and each book comes with incredible resources, including free, downloadable discussion guides and supplemental information – including multimedia resources – on Tod Olson’s author site. You can go directly to the Lost in the Antarctic resources here.

Get this series on your shelves now! You’ll be happy you did, and so will your readers.

Tod Olson is the author of the historical fiction series How to Get Rich and the four books in the Lost series–Lost in the Pacific, 1942; Lost in Outer Space;  Lost in the Amazon; and Lost in the Antarctic. He has written for national magazines on the Columbine school shooting, homeless teens, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and many other stories of interest to children and young adults. Tod holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Vermont with his family, his mountain bike, and his electric reclining chair. To learn more, and to download free teaching resources, visit his website: todolson.com.
 
Praise for previous titles in the Lost series
 
★”A riveting, completely engrossing true survival story.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Engaging… A great choice for collections.” —School Library Journal
 
One lucky winner will receive Lost in the Antarctic, courtesy of Scholastic, Inc. (U.S. addresses). Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!
Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction

Wild Animals of the South – beautiful animals, beautiful artwork

wild_1Wild Animals of the South, by Dieter Braun/Translated by Jen Calleja, (March 2017, Nobrow), $35, ISBN: 9781909263970

Recommended for ages 5+

This gorgeous companion to Braun’s Wild Animals of the North (Nobrow, 2016) introduces readers to animals in the Southern hemisphere. Organized by continent: South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica, readers will enjoy the beautiful, colorful illustrations. The emphasis here is on the illustrations, making this a great starter book for younger children; caregivers can read the short passages on featured animals, which offer fun facts. For example, while most know that a male lion’s mane is his crowning glory, did you know that female lions prefer males with more beautiful and lustrous manes? And that other males will hold back when a male with a more impressive mane appears?

The art is stunning. Braun’s illustrations are geometric, with strong lines and rich colors. There is a wry sense of humor in some – the lion’s lush mane, for instance – while others, like the breaching humpback whale, are breathtaking. A waddle of penguins, under a snowy sky, stand in the stark shadow of glaciers. Braun captures habitats with the same beauty the he sees in the animals themselves.

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The $35 price tag may be a bit steep for some readers, especially those who are looking for more information than artwork (but that’s what libraries are for!), but this book is gorgeous for wildlife lovers and art lovers. For more of Dieter Braun’s illustrations, make sure to visit his website.

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