Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Escaping Greenland: The #WonderListAdventures continue

Escape Greenland (The Wonder List Adventures #2), by Ellen Prager, Ph.D./Illustrated by Tammy Yee, (Apr. 2021, Tumblehome Learning), $13.95, ISBN: 978-1-943431-70-0

Ages 9-13

The second book in Dr. Ellen Prager’s new Wonder List Adventures takes siblings Ezzy and Luke to the next stop on their mother’s “Wonder List”: Greenland. The siblings and their father, who are visiting the places their mother wanted them to see for her when she passed away. After visiting the Galápagos Islands and finding themselves in the middle of a poaching ring in Escape Galápagos (2019), they’re hoping for a calmer vacation in Greenland. No such luck, my friends. Dr. Skylar, Ezzy’s and Luke’s dad, is called away to help out an injured researcher, just as the siblings overhear a plot to attract tourism by speeding up the melting of a glacier and find themselves in some very unfriendly company! In between once-in-a-lifetime adventures like seeing humpback whales breach (and being under them when they’re eating!), playing with puppies and getting a ride from sled dogs, they’re on the run from some pretty scary bad guys. Dr. Prager creates likable, interesting characters and uses her wealth of knowledge about marine science and climate change to put readers in the middle of the story with them. Settling her stories in incredible locales, she encourages environmental awareness by creating a love for the natural wonders of our planet and by spotlighting the very real types of people who would wreak ecological havoc through illegal and shady business practices, Dr. Prager sets readers’ sights on the big villain: personal gain.

The Wonder List Adventures is a good series to recommend to your Nat Geo Explorer Academy readers and your Carl Hiaasen readers. And fans of her previous series, Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, will love the little Easter Egg she put in there!

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction

Do You Know? Reference books for younger readers!

Twirl Books has so many great new books coming out for younger readers. The board books coming out via the imprint are interactive and encourage new and developing readers to imagine and explore, and their desk reference series, “Do You Know?”, are just what early school-age kids need when they want to dig into a subject, maybe for the first time.

Do You Know? Dinosaurs and the Prehistoric World, by Pascale Hédelin, (Apr. 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9782408024673

Ages 5-8

Do You Know? Dinosaurs and the Prehistoric World gives kids what they want: information about dinosaurs in a picture-heavy format. A visual table of contents serves as a road map to discovery: Types of Dinosaurs, Popular Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Life, Life Without Dinosaurs, and More To Know sections bring kids right to the areas they’re interested in. Bold black fonts are easy to read and pop off the white page, and realistic dinosaur artwork shares space with cartoony artwork, along with cartoony kids, to explain fun facts versus science facts. Easy to understand diagrams show kids different parts of a dinosaur, and an added section on when dinosaurs lived show cartoony dinosaurs being puzzled at interacting with human children or frightened of a dinosaur they come across that lived at a different time. A Let’s Review! section at the end of each chapter offers fun activities to enhance learning.

 

Do You Know? Oceans and Marine Life, by Stéphanie Babin, (Apr. 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9782408024666

Ages 5-8

Similar in overall layout to Do You Know? Dinosaurs and the Prehistoric World, Do You Know? Oceans and Marine Life is all about underwater life: sections on Oceans, Seas, and More!, A Day by the Ocean, A Day at the Beach, Ocean Vehicles, Marine Animals, and More to Know brings the ocean and ocean life to the reader. Each section has a “Let’s Review” area with extra learning activities, and colored boxes at the bottom right of each page direct readers to related subjects in other areas of the book. Cartoony kids hang out with polar bears, deep sea dive with a school of fish, and sail a tugboat through spreads on warm waters, The Blue Planet, and water sports. Sidebars explain what sand is, what to eat at a picnic, and what to do if you’re afraid of the water. Infographics explain the water cycle and underwater food chain.

Each book has a full index and is a great desk reference for emerging readers. My Kiddo has absconded with my copies, if that’s any clue!

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

#HomesCool for babies, too! Anti-Racism, Climate Change, Oceanography, and Mammals!

Babies need fun books, too! #HomesCool doesn’t just start with school-age kids: let’s take a look at some of the best board books out this summer, ready for you to read to your lap-sitters as we head into Fall.

Anti-Racist Baby, by Ibram X. Kendi/Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky, (June 2020, Kokila), $8.99, ISBN: 9780593110416

Ages 0-4

If you haven’t had the chance to enjoy Anti-Racist Baby yet, please find a copy now! National Book Award Winner Ibram X. Kendi and illustrator Ashley Lukashevsky have created a gorgeous, playful book for readers of all ages that celebrates diversity and offers simple, wonderful ways that we can teach our children, from the  youngest ages, to be actively anti-racist. There are easy concepts to grasp here; it’s our job as parents and caregivers to use the vocabulary to break down large concepts as “see all colors” “and “blame the policies, not the people” to our kids. The illustrations are bold, upbeat, and feature diverse groups of families. The rhyming scheme will keep kids entertained, introducing them to new words – just like STEM board books! – while we show them concepts through our own actions. Consider this for your collections, display and read with books like Feminist Baby, Woke Baby, and A is for Activist.

Anti-Racist Baby has a starred review from School Library Journal.

 

Climate Change for Babies, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Katherina Petrou, (Aug. 2020, Sourcebooks Explore), $9.99, ISBN: 9781492680826

Ages 2-5

Another Chris Ferrie STEM board book! I love his STEM series for babies and toddlers. Here, Chris Ferrie and illustrator Katherina Petrou teach littles about climate change, using the idea of a blanket keeping planets warm: that’s the atmosphere. Different planets have different blankets, but Earth’s blanket is just right, thanks to our trees, animals, and oceans… but not when people start changing the blanket with transportation, pollution, and livestock! When our blanket gets too hot, Earth doesn’t feel well, and makes a lot of things go wrong. What can we do? Lots of things, like plant more trees, cut down on coal, oil, and cars and factories! Simply illustrated with bright colors and pictures of happy and sad planets, vehicles, and landscapes, kids will be entertained while we grownups digest the big picture and talk about keeping our world safe and healthy.

 

ABCs of Oceanography, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Katherina Petrou, (Aug. 2020, Sourcebooks Explore), $9.99, ISBN: 9781492680819

Ages 2-5

It’s a Chris Ferrie Fest! ABCs of Oceanography is the seventh(ish?) book in Ferrie and illustrator Katherina Petrou’s ABCs series. Like other books in the series, this book grows along with your little ones: Colorful pictures illustrate each alphabetical concept, with the letter and word bright and bold, standing out against a stark white background: “A is for Algae”, with an illustration of algae. Next, for young learners, the concept word is used in a descriptive sentence: “Algae are aquatic life that conduct photosynthesis”; using bigger vocabulary words in a scientific context, to introduce preschoolers to the basic words they can expect to learn in kindergarten. Finally, a fuller definition, perfect for children moving up into elementary school, yet still easy enough to grasp, to give them the full breadth of the definition and ownership of the concept. There are familiar words, like Dolphin, Island, and Octopus, and newer words, like Euphotic Zone, Gyre, and Quahog. Pair with Baby Shark and get some flannel ocean figures out!

Sourcebooks has a Baby University page on their publisher website, that features Chris Ferrie’s books organized into series: For Babies, ABCs, and Picture Books.

 

Curious About Mammals, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Aug. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $6.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-198-0

Ages 0-3

This book is adorable and informative! The second book in Peachtree’s and author-illustrator team Cathryn and John Sill’s Discovering Nature series, Curious About Mammals presents one-sentence facts about mammals, accompanied by elegant, detailed wildlife artwork by wildlife illustrator John Sill. The sentences contain basic facts and plenty of sight words for young learners, with the accompanying artwork showing animals in their daily lives: climbing; swimming; flying; alone, or with a group. Each animal’s common name appears under their picture, in small italic text, letting readers go back and discover their new favorite animals again and again. Some may be familiar, like the Northern Raccoon and Blue Whale; others may be brand new, like the Black-Tailed Jackrabbit and American Badger. A great add to board book collections where you have burgeoning animals fans.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Dewdrop is the cheerleader we all need right now

Dewdrop, by Katie O’Neill, (Apr. 2020, Oni Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781620106891

Ages 3-7

One of the ruling monarchs of All That is Adorable, Katie O’Neill – whom you may know from her Tea Dragon series, Aquicorn Cove, or Princess Princess Ever After graphic novels – now gives us a cheerleading axolotl named Dewdrop, in an upbeat, sweet graphic novel.

Dewdrop and his underwater friends are practicing their skills to show off at the yearly sports fair. Mia is a weightlifting turtle, Newman the newt is a musician, and three minnows fancy themselves as chefs. Dewdrop? He’s a cheerleader! And as his friends practice for the fair, Dewdrop visits each one of them to cheer them on and get them past their fears, which is perfect practice for his own skills: cheering! Dewdrop is a sweet story with tips about mindfulness, positivity, and friendship, and it turns some antiquated gender tropes on their heads: Dewdrop is male. A pink, cheerleading, adorable male. Mia is a female turtle, rocking a little flower head decoration, and she’s a weightlifter. Having a male character radiate positivity – something we’ve often seen as the female characters’ responsibility – sends a refreshing, reassuring message to all children about how easy it is to be a good friend. Katie O’Neill is fantastic at upending outdated gender roles, and Dewdrop continues to deliver upbeat, inspiring messages through colorful and bright artwork with charming characters.

Katie O’Neill is an award-winning author and graphic novelist. Her author webpage has more of her illustrations, information about her graphic novels, and an online store.

Want to learn more about axolotls? Live Science has pictures and facts, as does National Geographic. Author Jess Keating has the cutest axolotl coloring page, and her book, Cute As An Axolotl, is all about “nature’s cutest weirdos”.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Ocean: Secrets of the Deep is STEM fun!

Ocean: Secrets of the Deep, by Sabrina Weiss/Illustrated by Giulia De Amicis, (April 2019, What on Earth Books), $19.99, ISBN: 97-1-9999680-7-6

Ages 7-12

We’re heading to Florida on the first road trip we’ve had in ages, so I’m all over the beachy reading right now. My little guy is excited, because his grandpa lives right by the ocean, so we’ve been enjoying this book immensely.

Ocean: Secrets of the Deep is loaded with facts and figures about the underwater world, and I am in love with the bright, bold illustrations and infographics! The information is presented in bite-size chunks that kids can easily enjoy and digest, and the minimailst artwork is bold and gorgeous. Not just a fact book, there is info about myths and legends (including one of my faves, the Kraken); sections on each of the ocean’s zones, with numbered renderings of each form of life living in each zone; animals who work together in the deep; animal sizes and sounds, and migration patterns. There are sections on environmental concerns and challenges, including overfishing, pollution, and climate change, and a call to action that encourages and empowers kids to act. A glossary and index complete this beautiful volume.

Natural history and environmental studies units would benefit from adding this book to shelves, and you can easily use Ocean in your library STEM programming. When we had our Discovery Club at my library, we did a unit on the ocean, and had the kids create their own ocean zones display on a wall in our meeting room. Print out pictures of different fish featured in Ocean, and invite the kids to color and stick their own marine life to the zones in your library or classroom! It’s a great multi-week project, if you want to spend time creating the monochromatic zones, then working on the marine life.

Ocean is absolute fun and absolutely gorgeous.

Posted in Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads

Monsters and Mermaids bring fantasy fun!

Two fun picture books are coming up in August and September! If you’re looking for books for your late Summer/early Fall shopping carts, give these a spin.

Alfred’s Book of Monsters, by Sam Streed, (Aug. 2019, Charlesbridge), $15.99, ISBN: 9781580898331

Ages 5-8

Alfred is a little boy who loves monsters, not boring old tea times. Aunty thinks monsters are dreadful, and constantly interrupts Alfred’s precious reading time by calling him to tea. Alfred decides to invite the monsters he reads about: the Nixie, the Black Shuck, and the Lantern Man, to tea time; when they take him up on the invitation, they have a fabulously terrible time! Poor Aunty never knew what hit her.

This is the picture book for the kids who enjoy a good, morbidly amusing story. Have Neil Gaiman or Lemony Snicket fans? Do you have storytime kids who giggle time and again at I Want My Hat Back? Do you just want a fun Halloween read in your back pocket? This is the book for you and your readers. Baby goths and kids who love monsters will get a kick out of this story, which has a lovely Victorian vibe going for it, with bold, black lines and brown and black artwork, occasionally punched up with washed out greens, pinks, yellows, and blues for effect. The story alternates between Alfred’s monster stories and tea time, letting you switch voices back and forth to get your readers squealing with monstrous delight. The artwork was created by scanning and combining old paper, ink splotches, and spooky sketches, and was influenced by antique books and Victoriana; the endpapers sport a dark brownish-red rose wallpaper with framed photos of Aunty, Alfred, and an assortment of pets, people, and tea sets.

Less spooky than humorous, this is a fun book for storytime. Make some puppets and bring your own monsters to tea!

 

Five Little Mermaids, by Sunny Scribens/Illustrated by Barbara Vagnozzi, (Sept. 2019, Barefoot Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781782858317

Ages 3-7

This adorably rhyming story is an underwater take on the popular counting tale. A multicultural group of five little mermaids decide to go swimming to “see what they could see”, each of them leaving the group when they meet with various turtles, penguins, giant squid, and jellyfish. Together, the group travels through the world’s oceans, then comes together back home to talk about what they’ve seen. It’s a soothing, familiar rhyme scheme with cheery, bright art that uses vivid colors and brings readers through a lovely underwater world. Back matter includes spreads on the world’s oceans and their properties; notes about mermaid legends from different cultures (Greece, Japan, Central America, New Zealand, and West, Central and Southern Africa); marine life that appears in the book, and finally, sheet music for the song. There will be a CD and downloadable copy available, read by jazz vocalist Audra Mariel.

Barefoot Books always puts a great message out there in such a fun way. The mermaids play alongside their ocean friends and come from all around the world. The back matter provides interesting mermaid and ocean information using a one world, many cultures approach, taking myth examples from cultures including African, Asian, and Central American.

If you want to explore some videos from Barefoot Books, their YouTube channel is a good place to start. I find some of their mindful and diverse kidlit videos good professional development, and I’m sure Five Little Mermaids will have a book trailer up as the release date gets closer.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

STEAM into Summer!

Summer Reading is the best – and craziest – time for librarians. We’re planning intense levels of programming, ordering books and putting lists together like mad, and just waiting for that last day of school, when the kids will storm the library like… well, let the Avengers tell you.

It’s real.

NatGeo Kids was kind enough to send some books my way to check out and talk up for my STEM programs this summer. Let’s take a look!

 

This Book is Cute! The Soft and Squishy Science and Culture of Aww, by Sarah Wassner Flynn,
(March 2019, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426332944
Ages 5-12

Can you believe there’s a science to cuteness? Of course NatGeo Kids would get to the bottom of this! Cute foods! (More attractive to eat!) Cute (human and animal) babies! (Trigger emotions in us that make us protect and care for them!) Cute clothes and toys! (We can’t get enough of ’em!) This Book is Cute is 112 pages of high-pitched squealing, science, and lists of cute animals, cutest jobs ever (I would like to apply for the Cat Cuddler spot, please), even appliances. Put up a bulletin board and see how many cute animals or food your kids can identify, or test their Cute IQ using the quiz in the book. This Book is Cute! is absolutely adorable; kids will go crazy for it and so will you.

Ages 8-12
A companion to Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System and Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth, Awesome Ocean takes readers underwater exploring with cartoon superhero Captain Aquatica and her hammerhead shark sidekick, Finn. Shark researcher and marine conservationist Jess Cramp is the real-life version of Captain Aquatica, and leads readers through chapters on the ocean; waves, tides, and water; sharks and marine life; underwater technology; ecosystem engineering, and the critical importance of conservation. Moving back and forth between a comic book adventure and factual explanation, the book is loaded with incredible photos, fact boxes, and easy experiments that kids and families can do at home. There are scientist profiles – I love these, because they introduce readers to even more scientists than they’ll meet in our biography aisles – a glossary, index, and book and website resources for more exploration. NatGeo books are amazing because they always make sure to empower kids to make the world a better place, providing ways to get involved and start making changes. Their photos are consistently fantastic, and I love having as many of their books as possible in my library. If a parent or kid comes in looking for nonfiction about the natural world or animal book suggestions, I bring them to NatGeo books first. Display this set together, if you have them, and direct your readers to a series that looks at the big picture: earth, ocean, and space.
Luna: The Science and Stories of Our Moon, by David A. Aguilar,
(June 2019, National Geographic Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781426333224
Ages 8-12
NatGeo wouldn’t let a Summer Reading theme go by without a book for us to give to the kiddos! Luna is all about our friendly satellite, the Moon. It’s a compact volume, at 64 pages, packed with all the info a middle grade space enthusiast could want. There are beautiful photos, callout quotes and facts, and full-color diagrams, and thought-provoking chapters cover topics including moon myths and hoaxes; the famous “dark side” of the moon; how our moon stacks up against other moons; lunar phases, and – naturally! – the 1969 lunar landing. There’s a fun make the moon activity (get your old t-shirts on; this one involves Plaster of Paris), a viewing guide, and tips on drawing the moon. There’s an index and a list of additional resources. This is one of the best middle grade volumes on the moon that I’ve read since Elaine Scott’s Our Moon (2015), and a solid add to your 520s. Mine are always in high demand (along with my dinosaurs), and with the outer space theme for this year’s Summer Reading, I imagine I’ll need a second copy of my own to use for programming.
Thanks again to NatGeo for always keeping nonfiction interesting and fun!
Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books

Seashells: More Than a Home, more than decoration

Seashells: More Than a Home, by Melissa Stewart/Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen, (Apr. 2019, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781580898102

Ages 6-9

Kids love seashells. They’re the ultimate summer souvenir, coming in all shapes and sizes, with beautiful patterns and colors. Seashells: More Than a Home looks at 13 different seashells and lets readers in on their little world: their colors, patterns, and functions in protecting the marine life that live within them, keeping them safe and fed. For instance, a nautilus’s design allows it to sink and float like a submarine, while the screw-shaped burribella can anchor itself into the sand, allowing its sea snail to stay in place. Watercolor illustrations and soothing earth and sea colors make this a beautiful book to look at and learn from. Endpapers illustrate shells and a map, highlighting their locations, and back matter includes author and illustrator notes, and additional resources.

Seashells: More Than a Home is a companion to Melissa Stewart and Sarah Brannen’s book, Feathers: Not Just for Flying (2014) and a nice addition to nonfiction shelves and STEM storytimes. Get some seashells and pass them around; invite the kids to talk about what they see and feel. Melissa Stewart’s author website has free, downloadable educator activities, readers’ theatre scripts, and curriculum guides.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I give you… STEVE, TERROR OF THE SEAS!

Steve, Terror of the Seas, by Megan Brewis, (March 2109, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-825-4

Ages 3-7

Steve is the cutest, friendliest little fish in the sea, so why is everyone so afraid of him? Steve swims around the sea, explaining to readers that it’s not easy being Steve as creatures large and small swim away in terror. Could it be the company he keeps?

Steve, Terror of the Seas, is straight-up hilarious, relying on the end reveal to bring home the joke. Sharp-eyed readers may be able to guess beforehand, but make that reveal dramatic: get out hand puppets or felt boards for this one. The writing keeps the joke running, with Steve baring his little teeth, wondering if they’re “too bad”, or puckering up to a group of retreating fish as he utters possibly the best phrase in the book, “Finding love has been a challenge”.

The book presents fun facts about pilot fish (like Steve), and some other scary denizes of the deep, including pufferfish, viperfish, toadfish, anglerfish, and my favorite, the not-very-threatening blobfish. Being that Steve is a pilot fish, we get some facts about them, too… including their relationships with sharks, like Steve’s best friend, George.

The artwork is adorable and works hand-in-hand with the text to provide a reading experience with a great punchline. Make sure to sing Baby Shark and Slippery Fish for this storytime!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Fables and Fairy Tales from Henry Herz

I fell in love with author Henry Herz’s book, Mabel and the Queen of Dreams, back in 2016. It was a wonderful way to introduce some magic to bedtime, and a nod to The Bard himself. Mr. Herz has two more books coming out this September; one is a fun fable about a selfish squid, and the other, another nod to magic, this time, courtesy of a little girl named Alice.

How the Squid Got Two Long Arms, by Henry Herz/Illustrated by Luke Graber, (Sept. 2018, Pelican Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9781455623884

Ages 3-7

Once upon a time, a squid had a splendid silvery scarf knitted for him by his mother, but he was still cold. Rather than go home and bundle up, our little cephalopod decides to steal an octopus’ sweater and a fiddler crab’s mitten; when he tries to snatch an eel’s hat, though, he discovers that taking things without asking can only end one way: trouble! The eel grabbed one of the squid’s 10 arms, and the octopus and crab catch up to get hold of his other arm and get their clothes back! When all is said and done, the squid is still cold, and now he has two really long arms: and a sneaky fish sneaking up to steal his scarf! The straightforward story is a gentle way to reinforce that taking things that aren’t yours is wrong; a nice morality tale set in the friendly ocean. The artwork brings a dose of fun to the story, with wide-eyed marine life and exaggerated expressions (and an eel in a hunter’s cap is pretty fantastic). An author’s note provides a photo and a little bit of background on squid.

My little guy thoroughly enjoyed this story; he had a big-eyed laugh when the squid got his comeuppance, and pointed out all the animals we’d seen at the aquarium a couple of weeks before. It’s a nice add to your shelves, and a fun add to fables, stories about empathy, and books with marine life.  And here are some squid coloring sheets, to enhance the storytime!

 

Alice’s Magic Garden, by Henry Herz/Illustrated by Natalie Hoopes, (Sept. 2018, Familius), $16.99, ISBN: 9781641700320

Ages 5+

Alice in Wonderland fans, get ready: the subtitle here, “Before the rabbit hole”, lets you know what’s going on. Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Alice, who went to the dreariest school in all of England. While escaping her awful headmistress and cruel classmates, Alice happens upon a small, walled garden, and begins tending it, caring for a few of the inhabitants: a caterpillar and a lory bird; she even chases a smiling cat away from a rabbit. Her kindness is paid back at school, when her benefactors leave her tasty treats and take care of those bullies, telling Alice that they are friends “now and forever”. There are wonderful references to the classic tale throughout the story, and readers will fall in love with the magical realism of the garden. The artwork is colorful and calming, delightful for fairy tale fans, and the story itself is all about the power of paying it forward. This one is great storytime reading, and may nudge Mabel aside as my favorite Henry Herz book. Print out some Alice in Wonderland coloring sheets, have a mad tea party, and read this one to your littles.