Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

A gift for every learner!

It’s that time of year, expect the gift guides to be coming at you fast and furious. Let’s see what’s making my lists this year.

Mercury: 100 Piece Puzzle (Featuring Photography from the Archives at NASA), (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781797210346

Ages 6+

Puzzle fans, astronomy fans, science fans, everyone will love the next planetary puzzle from Chronicle Books. Mercury is the newest 100-piece puzzle using photography from the Archives at NASA, a follow-up to April’s Earth puzzle (which my kid and I still haven’t solved). It’s a beautiful photo of Mercury, and it is huge: 2 1/2 feet in diameter, so clear off a table for Thanksgiving/holiday gatherings and let the family and friends have at it. Puzzle pieces are sturdy, and they’re a good size, inviting little hands to help out, too. It’s a round puzzle, so you can somewhat figure out the outside of Mercury, but don’t forget: it’s a photo, so have fun trying to figure out which crater is goes where (G, my kiddo, and I are still arguing over them).

 

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! An Animal Poem for Each Day of the Year, selected by Fiona Waters/Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, (Oct. 2021, Nosy Crow), $40.00, ISBN: 9781536217186

Ages 3-8

This is a beautiful collection of animal poems for readers, poetry fans, and animal lovers. There are 366 poems – one for every day, including Leap Year – organized by month. Each month begins with a table of contents that lays out each poem and author by day. The spreads are beautiful and the poems are related on each spread, giving a feeling of cohesion. January 1-3 have poems about polar bears; 4-5 about whales; the action moves through the days, with spreads turning to sheepdogs on guard, wolves, and more. Britta Teckentrup’s artwork is just beautiful, with cold, quiet winter spreads moving into warm, home interiors; crocodiles lurk on one spread, gazelles leap through grass in another. Colorful, not overwhelming, the artwork brings the ideas in each poem to life. Endpapers offer lush, green leaves, inviting us in, and closing their doors behind us. Read a few a time, or savor them day by day.

 

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame/Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith, (Nov. 2021, Templar Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536219999

Ages 7-12

The classic children’s novel gets a gift hardcover release just in time for the holidays! If you’ve never read The Wind in the Willows, you’re missing out. The adventures of Mr. Toad, Mole, Ratty, and Badger have been delighting readers since its publication in 1908. This hardcover gift version has illustrations from Kate Greenway Medal winner Grahame Baker-Smith that give gorgeous life to the story; some are sepia-toned, some rendered in shades of blue, green, or brown, some in rich, warm, earth colors. The cloth cover looks like a copy of the book I found on my own public library’s shelves a lifetime ago; just running my hand over the cover brought back memories of sitting down with it and wandering into Mr. Toad’s magic world. Give this to a younger reader, give it to a grownup who needs to go back in time, even if just for a moment.

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

Reading Takes you Everywhere: Nature!

I’m going to stick to my library’s Summer Reading theme, Reading Takes You Everywhere, for this post; in this case, reading takes you into the Great Outdoors!

Weird but True! Ocean: 300 Fin-Tastic Facts from the Deep Blue Sea, by National Geographic Kids, $8.99, ISBN: 9781426371813

Ages 7-12

I have said this before, and I’ll say it again: these chunky, digest-sized NatGeo books MOVE. I refresh my collection throughout the year, every year, because the kids in my library love them. They love the wild collection of facts across all sorts of subjects, they love that they’re small enough to shove in their schoolbags (or mom’s bag), and they’ll pull them out anywhere (ANYWHERE) to rattle off facts to anyone (ANYONE) who will listen. It’s just great. This volume has loads of facts about the ocean: did you know that otters keep rocks under their arms to help them crack open clams? Or that feeding cows seaweed helps them burp less? Maybe you didn’t know this, but a sea cucumber can expel its organs to distract predators, and grow them back later. There are tons of great and fun facts here, accompanied by incredible color photos. Just add it to your cart; the kids will take care of the rest.

 

Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas, by Elizabeth Shreeve, Illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, (May 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536214109

Ages 6-9

I love this gorgeous book! It’s a “story from out of the blue” about how animals evolved from microbes in the ocean to land creatures through Earth’s timeline. Spread by spread, readers travel through the planet’s history, from the Archean Eon (4-2.5 billion years ago) through the Cenzoic Era (66 million year ago to the present), with colorful illustrations as life evolves from sea-dwelling single-celled organisms, to athropods and echinoderms, to mollusks, dinosaurs, and finally, humans. It’s a compulsively readable history that describes the different types of organisms and illustrates the evolution from single- to multi-celled creatures; the development of fins to limbs, and how we are always connected to the water.  Readers learn how animals (and people!) compare to those that came before, and the informative text is chunked into readable paragraphs that respect and never overwhelm readers. Perfect for STEM/STEAM collections.

Out of the Blue has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.
Wild is the Wind, by Grahame Baker-Smith, (May 2021, Templar), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536217926
Ages 4-8
A girl named Cassi watches over a small bird, a swift, that she’s cared for. It’s time to let the bird go; the swifts soar around them, hearing the call of the wind, and Cassi knows that “They are wild and belong to the wind”. This breathtaking book is alternately a story about a girl letting her bird rejoin the world that brought it to her, and a story about the wonder of the wind. Across the world, winds whip into the sky, as ancient as the dinosaurs; they power turbines and give us power; they “howl with power” as storms. Every spread is a gorgeous revelation, with the ever-present swifts traveling the currents. Deep colors and incredible visions in the sky make this a fantasy to sweep readers away and return them, where they’ll never think of an ordinary breeze in the same way again. Grahame Baker-Smith is a Kate Greenaway Award-winning illustrator, and his companion book, The Rhythm of the Rain, is an excellent companion to Wild is the Wind. Have these available for your nature readers and display this with Aaron Becker’s Journey Trilogy.
Wild is the Wind has a starred review from Kirkus.
Little Kids First Big Book of Rocks, Minerals & Shells, by  Moira Rose Donohue & National Geographic Kids, (July 2021, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9781426372223
Ages 4-8
The “Little Kids First Big Book” is another great series from NatGeo Kids. They introduce younger learners to science concepts in a fun, accessible way. It’s NatGeo, so you know the photos are amazing, and the information is organized into easily readable sections of interest. Here, kids will learn how rocks are formed, the difference between rocks and minerals, and how they’re used in just about every facet of our lives. Chapters are organized into Rocks, Minerals, and Seashells, and activities and map-reading activities at the end of every chapter help kids put their thinking caps on and sharpen new and developing skills. Fact boxes and cool callout boxes throughout keep kids turning pages, almost feeling like they’ve got that fun, small digest (see up above, Weird But True) handy, where they can tell everyone cool bits of info (The Great Sphinx in Egypt was carved from limestone!).  A Parent Tips section offers fun and safe ways to join your kids in learning about rocks, minerals, and seashells (ahem… STEM program in a book!). There are additional resources, including a Bill Nye video on the rock cycle, and a glossary, and the book is indexed. What a great resource to have handy!
Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Wild History! Books about prehistoric animals

Kids love dinosaurs. This is a known fact, and my groaning 567.9 section is proof positive of it, but I like to branch out a little and get kids checking out what other prehistoric animals there are to learn about. There are several great new books out that will give my 567 section a nice boost.

Forgotten Beasts: Amazing Creatures That Once Roamed the Earth, by Matt Sewell, (July 2019, Pavilion), $19.95, ISBN: 9781843653936

Ages 7+

Originally published in the UK in 2018, Forgotten Beasts contains over 45 illustrated portraits and profiles of birds and beasts that roamed the planet alongside and after the dinosaurs. There’s the Opabinia, a 2-inch arthropod from 508 million years ago through 1936, when the last Thylacine, a carnivorous marsupial, went extinct. There are some names kids will recognize, like the ginormous shark, Megalodon; the saber-toothed tiger, also known as the Smilodon Fatalis, and the Woolly Mammoth (for the Ice Age fans!). Each picture is skillfully rendered in muted watercolors, showing readers that prehistory wasn’t relegated to muddy greens, browns, and grays. Each profile includes the animal’s size, weight, time period, and diet, and a descriptive paragraph or two, and a timeline helps readers envision when these animals, alongside dinosaurs, roamed the Earth. Endpapers feature the stars of the book in miniature, parading across the pages. A nice book to beef up your non-dinosaur prehistoric collections.

Life: The First Four Billion Years (The Story of Life from the Big Bang to the Evolution of Humans), by Martin Jenkins/Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick Studio), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0420-9

Ages 10-14

The cover alone will make readers stop and give this book a look. Starting with the Big Bang, Life: The First Four Billion Years brings readers along on a journey through Earth’s first four billion years, ending right before we humans show up. Life starts off with foldout spreads that detail the beginning of Earth; from there, the book moves into the Ice Age, life’s beginnings in the water, its move to land, the ages of dinosaurs and of mammals, and the breakup of Pangea and formation of the continents, and the “Road to Us”: evolution of homo sapiens. Illustrations are the focal point of the book, and Kate Greenway Medal winner Grahame Baker-Smith is at the top of his game, creating landscapes both lush and stark, with black and white and color artwork of a prehistoric world. Award-winning author Martin Jenkins writes for upper middle graders and older, making the science of prehistory accessible to all ages. A glossary and illustrated timeline of the planet make this a stunning volume to have on your shelves.

Prehistoric: Dinosaurs, Megalodons, and Other Fascinating Creatures of the Deep Past, by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld/Illustrated by Julius Csotonyi, (Sept. 2019, What on Earth Publishing), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Ages 7-11

Traveling backwards from present day to 541 million years ago, this slim volume is packed with illustrations, infographics, and easily digestible information about the earth through 17 eras. There’s information about climate change, ecosystems and extinctions. A running timeline at each right-hand page margin keeps readers up-to-date on the era and presents a visual representation of time covered as the book progresses.

Color illustrations are museum-quality; you can easily envision these bringing life to exhibits at any museum you may go to. Keeping in mind a younger and middle-grade audience, the information is broken up into short paragraphs, bold infographics, and callout facts. Back endpapers act as a visual table of contents. Keep Prehistoric in mind for your nonfiction sections; hand any of these books to your Apex Predators and Prehistoric Actual Size fans.

Prehistoric is produced in association with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Bring a book (or three) for the kids at Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK. How did that sneak up so fast? If you’re spending the holidays with family, you don’t want to show up empty-handed, right? And if you have kids in your family, you may be that sort of guest that likes to bring a book. (It’s not just me, is it?) Here are a few holiday books to get kids ready for Christmas:

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Panorama Pops), Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith,
(Sept. 2017, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9485-2
Perfect for ANY age!

 

How adorable is this itty bitty gift book? It comes in its own little slipcase, and opens to a pop-up, beautifully illustrated panoramic reading of the classic Christmas carol. There’s a brief explanation of the 12 days in the beginning of the book, which was news to me. I’ve spent the last *cough cough* decades thinking my birthday kicked off the 12 days of Christmas, but the days are actually from the 25th, Christmas Day, to the Epiphany, on January 5th. (I bet my parents are thrilled about that Catholic school tuition money.) There’s a note about the song’s origins; the words dating back to 1780, the music to 1909. Sing along with the kiddos, and then sing a fun take on the carol, like my son’s favorite, The Twelve Bots of Christmas! This one will take a beating in a public library – this one is great for storytime reference, but you’re taking matters into your own hands if you put this in circulation.

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Snow Globe Edition), by Michael Rosen/Illustrated by Helen Oxbury,
(Oct. 2017, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536200294
Great for all ages, but perfect for readers 3-7

This is such a fun update of a storytime classic! The cover is a 3-D, plastic-encased snow globe, with little styrofoam balls to shake up and down and all around.  This version of the story features die-cut and pop-up that will add to all of your splashing and sploshing, squelching, and squerching. I’m reading this one, along with Over the River: The Turkey’s Tale at my Thanksgiving storytime next week, and I can’t wait to see the kids’ faces when I show off the snow globe. Again, this one is great for gifts and storytime reference, but circulating librarians, be ware.

 

We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Sing Along With Me!), Illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow/Candlewick), $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9612-2
Great for all ages, but the board book is perfect for 2-5

Another illustrated Christmas carol, this time in board book form! Sing along with adorable animal friends as they get ready to celebrate Christmas, and scan the QR code in the book for a free, downloadable version of the song. There are five fun sliders, one on each spread, that let little hands peek at little buddies hiding behind a Christmas tree, pop up snowmen, slide a cat and mouse team down a hill, open a home to visiting friends, and watch Santa fly by. This book is way too much fun, and it’s nice and sturdy: built to last repeated uses. Put this one in your board book collections, you’re all good!