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 Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tristan Hunt and friends return with Stingray City!

stingraycity-useStingray City, by Ellen Prager (May 2015, Mighty Media Press), $9.95, ISBN: 9781938063701

Recommended for ages 9-12

When we last left Tristan Hunt and his Sea Camp friends, they’d had a rough summer that included being held prisoner by a crazy scientist and being chased by their environment-menacing foe, billionaire JP Rickerton. Camp ended early to get the heat off the kids, but Tristan and his friends aren’t out of action just yet: there’s an emergency by Grand Cayman, where stingrays and other sea life are disappearing. Tristan, Hugh, Ryder, Sam, and Rosina are called in to investigate, but they may end up missing along with the stingrays they’re trying to locate!

This third installment is the most fun Tristan Hunt adventure yet. Ms. Prager has hit her stride with this third book; her writing flows smoothly and she’s as comfortable with these characters as they are with one another. There’s more joking around now; more confidence; the kids are a little more inventive with their strategies and bolder when it comes to taking initiative. Tristan isn’t quite as focused on his on-land clumsiness as he’s been in the past, and, being teenagers now, they’re also starting to notice one another.

The Jamaican-accents are back, too! This time, instead of sharks, we’ve got stingrays calling the kids “bobo” and “mon”, adding some more humor to the storyline. There are some tense moments and some straight-up James Bond-type stunts happening here, courtesy of a billionaire inventor introduced here. (The books take place around Grand Cayman, there are going to be millionaires, folks.)

Readers are going to get some harsh truths in this book: not everyone appreciates life. But that’s why Tristan and his friends work so hard to keep the waters safe. You’re going to read about some pretty terrible conditions that people inflict on sea life and people who try to stop them, but it’s nothing that a kid can’t handle, and hopefully, he or she will come away with a greater respect for our world and the creatures we share that world with.

Lots of great conservation and environmental messages here, some new questions introduced (I still have questions from the last book!), and overall, a big, fun read. A plus to your middle grade realistic fantasy (I know that’s not a genre, but it should be) collection.

Do you want your own Tristan Hunt starter set? Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for the chance to win books 1 and 2 (The Shark Whisperer and Shark Rider)!