Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

New books for your animal fans

Animals, animals, animals, kids love books with animals. Here’s a roundup that will brighten and delight…en.

P is for Puffin: The ABCs of Uncommon Animals, by Timothy Young, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9780764362477

Ages 0-6

Timothy Young hits shelves with an abcedary board book that puts “uncommon animals” – E is not for Elephant here! – front and center. Each letter features an animal or two, with a sentence or two of informational text and a phonetic pronounciation guide for each animal’s name. Some letters feature two animals: P is for both Puffin and Pangolin; Q is for Quokka and Quoll. There are loads of fun facts to be discovered, like the mara, who is not a deer, but rather a large rodent that looks like a cross between a deer and a rabbit, or the shekru, which looks like a multicolored squirrel and is about twice the size of the squirrels we’re more familiar with. Acorn illustrations on each page give readers an idea of each animal’s size. The author is donating 100% of his royalties to the Wildlife Conservation Network to protect the endangered species that inspired this book! Wildlife Conservation Network protects endangered wildlife by supporting conservationists around the world to help animals and people coexist and thrive.

I’ve been a Timothy Young fan since my youngest first read and loved The Angry Little Puffin back in 2014, and I’m happy he’s still writing books and introducing readers to new animals. P is for Puffin is great to introduce new animals to the earliest learners – it’s a sturdy board book with attractive illustrations – and the book will grow with readers as they discover more detailed text.

Visit Timothy Young’s author page where you can find drawing lessons, downloadable coloring pages, and information about virtual author visits.

 

Yay for Big Brothers!, by Janet Halfmann/Illustrated by Shennen Bersani, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643518220

Ages 4-8

Big brothers are the best, aren’t they? In the animal world, big brothers are pretty great, too: Yay for Big Brothers is all about animal big brothers, and how they help their families by doing all sorts of things, like helping feed them at meal time; helping carry little siblings around; playing, and helping keep them safe and out of trouble. Thought-provoking questions invite readers to chime in with how they help out with their families and their littlest members, be it a younger sibling, cousin, or family friend. Photorealistic artwork  shows a variety of animal families and Janet Halfmann puts the narration in each animal’s paws, letting each big brother contribute how he helps care for his little siblings. A fun way to talk about animal jobs and animal families that younger learners will enjoy. View a preview PDF at Arbordale’s website; find the back matter Creative Minds supplement here, and visit Janet Halfmann’s author website to find a free printable activity.

 

 

The Pangolin Revelation, by Lori Schildwachter/Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643519791

Ages 4-9

I love all the pangolin love in books lately! The Pangolin Revelation is a fun story about school projects and how the pangolin is the ultimate animal mashup. Loran is a student with an assignment: write a report about your favorite animal, or create an imaginary animal. Loran sets out to create an imaginary animal with scales like a dragon or a fish, to protect it from predators; a long, sticky tongue, like an anteater, to help him eat; the ability to climb trees, like a squirrel, but with a prehensile tail, like a monkey. After listing all the parts to his imaginary creature, Loran realizes that this mega-mashup is a real animal: it’s a pangolin! Framed within a school project plotline, The Pangolin Revelation unfolds as a research project with a surprise ending, keeping readers entertained as they imagine their own mashup animals. (Psst… all you need is construction paper and crayons, pencils, or markers to recreate this as a program). Earth-colored illustration and photorealistic animal artwork. A fun meeting of nonfiction and fiction.

 

Wild Animal ABC, by PJ Rankin Hults, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764361197

Ages 5-8

A rhyming ABCecdary that’s got a whimsical spirit and plenty of fun, Wild Animal ABC, like P is for Puffin, is all about teaching kids the alphabet using letters, but each of these animals has a very distinctive personality and hat to go with it: “Chester the Chipmunk / Is a curious guy. / He loves to explore / And always asks, ‘Why?'” “Vinny the Vulture / Likes his dictionary. / He won his class spelling bee / With his vast vocabulary”. Watercolor paintings of each animal, in decorative frames, add a quirky, playful feel to the story. The glossary at the end includes facts about each animal mentioned, and a thought-provoking question to get kids talking. A Who Am I? game lets kids think about different hats and the purposes they serve, from a wizard’s hat to a birthday hat. The endpapers show all different accessories that kids can go back and look for throughout the book, and you can ask littles to spot animals or habitats on the cover.

 

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

February Non-Fiction is all about the animals!

River Rescue, by Jennifer Keats Curtis & Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc./Illustrated by Tammy Yee, (Feb. 2019, Arbordale), $17.95, ISBN: 9781607188230

Ages 5-8

River Rescue illustrates how an oil spill – even one drop of oil – can be devastating to plan and animal life. Introducing readers to the Wildlife Response Team at Tri-State Bird & Rescue, a Delaware-based organization that rescues and rehabilitates animals affected by oil, River Rescue teaches readers about the delicate cleaning process and the care so critical to helping evaluate, treat, and rehabilitate affected animals.

There are so many questions to ask: is the animal alert on arrival? What kind of oil is on the animal? The cleansing process brings more questions: what kind of bird is this? Is it a flocking bird, or a solitary one? Is it a water bird or a land bird? After the rehabilitation process, animals are released back into the wild, preferably in the area where they were rescued.

River Rescue provides an informative look into animal rescue and rehabilitation and encourages good environmental citizenship among readers. The earth-toned art is realistic and the text is easy to understand. Back matter includes a 4-page For Creative Minds section allowing teachers, parents, and caregivers to photocopy and distribute activities on identifying wildlife, a Q&A with Tri-State Executive Director Dr. Lisa Smith, and information on preventing oil spills and helping animals.

The Long and Short Tale of Colo and Ruff, by Diane Lang/Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, (Feb. 2019, Arbordale Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781607187387

Ages 4-7

Colo is a cougar and Ruff is a wild cat. The two friends want to play, but Ruff’s short tail prevents him from jumping as far as Colo can. As the two search for a new tail for Ruff, they encounter all the different things other animals can do with their tails and Ruff decides that his tail is just right after all.

This fun story is nonfiction with fiction wrapping: great for preschoolers and kindergartners! Colo and Ruff are realistically illustrated, but with softer artwork, playing up the cute factor. They encounter lizards, hawks, skunks and gophers on their search for a new tail, and callout facts throughout provide information that’s perfect for pleasure reading or an animal report. The For Creative Minds back matter includes a table comparing three kinds of cats and cat habitat maps.

Animal Noses, by Mary Holland, (Feb. 2019, Arbordale Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781607188056

Ages 4-9

Noses, beaks, tongues, antennae – animals have a bunch of different ways to use their senses of smell, and Animal Noses is all about animal noses, how animals transmit messages through scent, and which animals have super noses versus which animals don’t. Loaded with sharp, full-color photos and facts, this is a nice add to science sections, especially when teachers come in looking for books on the five senses – always fun to throw something unexpected, like this, into my readers’ advisory, and show the similarities and differences between how we use our senses versus how animals use theirs.

Arbordale always has good back matter, too: their For Creative Minds sections allow for photocopying and distribution for educational use. The Animal Noses For Creative Minds covers fun facts about scent, a match the nose game, and spotlights animals with great senses of smell.

 

If a Mummy Could Talk…, by Rhonda Lucas Donald/Illustrated by Cathy Morrison, (Feb. 2019, Arbordale Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781607187370

Ages 7-10

Meet some mummies and hear their stories: this volume contains stories about 12 different mummies: elephants, bison, dogs, cats, and humans, including the world’s most famous mummy, King Tut. Each spread focuses on one mummy, providing its date and location, and “before” and “after” illustrations that show readers what the animal or person most likely looked life while alive, and what its mummy looks like today. Facts gleaned from research and scientific observation bring each mummy’s story to life for readers, and provide clues to each demise. Discussions about different types of mummification, a mummy map of the world, and features on scientists’ tools and technology make up the back matter For Creative Minds section.

There are better books on mummies available, but this is an entertaining introduction for intermediate readers with an interest in natural history. The illustrations are realistic and colorful, and callout fact boxes appear throughout the book, clarifying bits of information contained in the text.

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

New Year, New Nonfiction!

There’s some great nonfiction coming up in just a few short weeks. From fandoms to crafting, freaky animals to an unusual pen pal, there’s a little something here for everyone.

Outrageous Animal Adaptations: From Big-Eared Bats to Frill-Necked Lizards, by Michael J. Rosen,
(Jan. 2018, Lerner Publishing), $37.32, ISBN: 9781512429992
Good for readers 10-15
Animals with unusual adaptation take center stage here, from the frill-necked lizard that runs across the desert on two legs to a vampire squid, who uses its bioluminescence to startle predators. Outrageous Animal Adaptations is loaded with full-color pictures and facts; each featured animal has callouts on its adaptation, curious facts, and a box with classification information. At only 96 pages, though, the price is steep for my wee budget, so if this isn’t a centrally purchased book for my collection, I have to be honest; I’ll probably see where I can find a more reasonably priced option.
Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers, by Francesca Davis DiPiazza/Illustrated by Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn,
(Jan. 2018, Lerner Publishing), $37.32, ISBN: 9781512450491
Good for readers 12-16
What a time to be a fan! Fandom has gone behemoth; New York Comic-Con is the new San Diego, and people are writing their academic theses on fanfic. I feel like my tweenage self has finally been vindicated; now, if only my Wookiees Need Love, Too t-shirt still fit. Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers is a great, in-depth look at some of the most-loved facets of fandom: fan fiction, cosplay, vidding, gaming, and fan art. There are color photos and input from fans; tips and advice, and a nice history of fandom for newcomers and old guard alike. There’s a strong emphasis on the communities we build as fans, and extra attention paid to the more recent Cosplay is Not Consent movement taking place at fan conventions and meetups. The book looks at the positive aspects of fandom – there’s been a lot of ink spent on the in-fighting and “fake geek girl” foolishness out there – and it’s nice to read an upbeat book about fan communities. The big sticking point here is the price. At over $37 for this book, I can buy two copies of Sam Maggs’ Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy – a great readalike and an awesome book, but I’d love to have both on my shelves, you know? It’s a hard call, because this really is a good book, well-written and well-presented, and readers will definitely be drawn to it. If you’ve got the budget, go for it.
The Craft-a-Day Book: 30 Projects to Make with Recycled Materials, by Kari Cornell/Photos by Jennifer S. Larson,
(Jan. 2018, Lerner Publishing), $39.98, ISBN: 9781512413137
Good for readers and crafters 12-16
Written with an eye toward high school and college students, crafter Kari Cornell talks about finding inspiration and repurposing everything from old tin cans to mismatched socks to create new crafts. She’s big on thrift store shopping and materials swaps with friends, and she’s all about reduce, reuse, and recycle. There are 30 projects, with varying degrees of difficulty and skill, for teens to take on and make their own. Step-by-step instructions help crafters navigate projects. The crafts are fun and I love Kari Cornell’s ideas for inspiration, but there wasn’t a lot of new craft ideas to be found. I’d rather stick with books like Generation T, Sophie Maletsky’s Sticky Fingers duct tape book, and Quirk Books’ craft line of books, all of which have similar projects and… yup, they’re more affordable.
Dear Komodo Dragon, by Nancy Kelly Allen/Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein,
(Feb. 2018, Arbordale Publishing, $17.95, ISBN: 9781607184492
Good for readers 4-9
A story about a girl with an unlikely pen pal – an honest-to-goodness, real Komodo dragon, gives kids loads of facts and teaches environmental awareness.  A young girl named Les writes to a Komodo dragon who goes by the name Komo (fair enough). She and the dragon learn about one another through fun dialogue; Les wants to know if he breathes fire, Komo is amused and corrects her knowledge with facts. The dialogue is often humorous; very tongue-in-cheek, and we see Les go from a girl dressed like a knight and ready to fight a dragon to someone who understands the threats Komodo dragons live with, be it from other, bigger dragons or from man. The artwork is soft, yet realistic; the letters appear on each spread, over the artwork, almost scrapbook-like in format. Kids will enjoy learning through the dialogue between dragon and human. As with all Arbordale books, there is a For Creative Minds session with additional facts and information. There will be a Spanish translation available.
Maggie: Alaska’s Last Elephant, by Jennifer Keats Curtis/Illustrated by Phyllis Saroff,
(Feb. 2018, Arbordale Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781607184508
Good for readers 5-10
Based on a true story, Maggie: Alaska’s Last Elephant is the story of Maggie, an elephant living at the Alaska Zoo with an older elephant named Annabelle. When Annabelle dies, Maggie is left alone and becomes despondent. Elephants are social animals; with no other elephant to befriend, and living outside of her own habitat, Maggie spends years holding onto a tire. Zookeepers ultimately make the decision to send Maggie to live at the PAWS Sanctuary, where she now lives with a herd of elephants. Maggie’s story is heartbreaking; the realistic artwork beautifully and achingly conveys emotion, from Maggie’s joy with Annabelle to her despondence, clinging to her tire, alone in her pen. This is a strong story about making good decisions and making the decisions that benefit others; putting others first, and living with empathy. The Creative Minds section includes a Q&A with elephant keeper Michelle Harvey, and touches on Maggie’s care at PAWS; the PAWS website has several videos available, including Maggie’s arrival from Alaska in 2000, and Maggie joining the herd of elephants. I’ve become an Arbordale fan since encountering their books at KidLitCon this year; they put out consistently good nonfiction for younger readers and have extra resources available online to extend learning.