Posted in picture books

Saying Farewell to Summer Reading with How to Be on The Moon

How to Be on the Moon, by Viviane Schwarz, (June 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536205459

Ages 4-7

A little girl and her best crocodile friend decide to go to the moon. They ready their math skills, practice having patience, and pack travel games and sandwiches, then take off for a jaunt on the moon.

This is the second Anna and Crocodile adventure from Viviane Schwarz (the first, How to Find Gold, was published in 2016), and it is a celebration of friendship and imagination. The illustrations are pencil, crayon, and watercolor, giving the scenery different textures; it’s like taking a peek into an imaginary landscape. The moonscape is amazing, and looks like aluminum foil (more on that in a minute) against a colorful rocketship and blue-black spacescape. The book is upbeat, with an overall sense of playful fun, that makes this a book I’ll return to again and again at storytime and science time.

Speaking of science time, I’m finishing up my summer reading programs this week, and will be reading How to Be on the Moon when the kids and I make aluminum foil moons. It’s a simple enough craft that I can open it up to all ages, and I think it will be a fun way to bid summer reading goodbye for another year.

Author/illustrator Viviane Schwarz has fun, free downloadables and activities on her author webpage. Check them out!

I look forward to seeing where Anna and Crocodile go on their next trek!

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 Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Three great books about space!

The Summer Reading theme for this year is all about Space, and I am psyched. I love outer space, and I’ve got a growing list of books to add to my own readers advisory lists (I’ll put that together in the next week or two for a post). Meanwhile, Sourcebooks and Barefoot Books have three great books about space that are staggered throughout the year, and perfect for your space-faring STEM fans. Let’s check them out, shall we?

 

Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, by Susanna Leonard Hill/Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, (June 2019, Sourcebooks Wonderland), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492656807

Ages 4-8

The Moon was so lonely, up in the night sky by herself. When she sees life developing on Earth, she patiently waits for someone to notice and visit her. It takes a while: the dinosaurs don’t notice; early people build pyramids and structures that just aren’t high enough. Eventually, though, she gets some visitors, and she is thrilled! She gives them presents of rocks and dust to take back to Earth, and they give her a beautiful flag and a plaque. Now, Moon is in the sky, happy and waiting for more visitors. Will you be her next guest?

This is the sweetest story I’ve read yet on the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. The Moon is illustrated as a softly shining, opalescent sphere with kind eyes, rosy cheeks, and a sweet smile; readers are treated to a quick history of Earth’s development as the Moon quietly observes, waiting for a friend to reach out – or up – and say hello. She even dances around the planet, showing off her phases! The actual Apollo mission takes up a brief part of the story, making this sweet book about a lonely satellite who just wants a friend an adorable storytime read for younger kids, and a fun book with solid facts for school-age kids. There’s a brief bibliography on the verso page, and back matter includes several pages dedicated to Mission Moon, the Apollo 11 voyage; moon facts, and moon phases, along with a running timeline of Earth’s formation and development. Endpapers are starry nights, where kids can imagine sailing through the stars to visit their favorite moon. Readers can also scan a QR code to hear Neil Armstrong’s historic first words from the 1969 moon landing. Gentle storytelling and adorable illustration make this a great Summer Reading addition! Display and booktalk with Stacey McAnulty’s Moon, Earth, and Sun trilogy.

 

There Was a Black Hole That Swallowed the Universe, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Susan Batori, (Sept. 2019, Sourcebooks Explore), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492680772

Ages 3-8

You know if Chris Ferrie is writing a book, I’m reading it. This STEM-errific take on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is about a giant black hole that swallows… well, everything. He starts with a universe… it couldn’t get worse! But oh, it does: the black hole swallows planets, stars, galaxies, and atoms, molecules, and quarks along with it. Yikes!

I read this to my first grader this morning and he immediately smiled and said, “This is like The Old Lady story!”, so kids familiar with the classic tale (and all of its spin-offs) will immediately jump in and know what’s coming; how the story will progress. With each chomping, the black hole gets bigger, and the planets and heavenly bodies look hilariously terrified as they try to get away from its maw. The storytelling is fun and loaded with humor; it’s cumulative and rhyming storytelling at its scientific funniest. The illustrations are goofy, with exaggerated facial expressions that make the storytelling more dramatic and humorous as you go. Bone up on your keyword knowledge for kids who will ask during the story (neutrons, atoms, quarks, oh my!). Scientific terms are highlighted in bold yellow, and capitalized to stand out and give your readers a nice working STEM vocabulary. Shine a blacklight on the pages from back to front, and you’ll reveal a super-cool, hidden history of the universe’s creation!

Absolute fun and a must-get for your storytime collections. Be a rock star at Science Storytime! Pair this with The Universe Ate My Homework by David Zelster for more black hole-related fun.

 

Barefoot Books Solar System, by Anne Jankéliowitch/Illustrated by Annabelle Buxton, Translated by Lisa Rosinsky, $19.99, ISBN: 9781782858232

Ages 8-12

Riding high on the post-Summer Reading wave, middle grade kids can go back school and check out Barefoot Books Solar System, a glow-in-the-dark, interactive guide to our Milky Way, complete with lift the flap booklets, a pull-out map, and beautiful artwork. Originally published in French, the book has been reviewed, edited, and updated by Dr. Carie Cardamone, professor of STEM education and Boston Museum of Science teacher and educator. The text is written with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor while delivering solid nonfiction goods to middle graders. The book covers each planet, with nicknames like :Saturn: The Space Diva”, and “Uranus and Neptune: The Icy Sisters”; the asteroid belt; differences between solid and gas planets; measuring the universe, and famous outer space voyages. The artwork is bright and bold, seeming to explode off the black pages to grab the reader’s attention.

In keeping with Barefoot’s mission of diversity and inclusivity, there is information about space exploration from around the world, making this a truly global effort. Back matter includes a comprehensive glossary of scientific terms and a note on the units of measurement used in the book. Don’t pass this one up; your 520s will shine a little brighter with Barefoot Books Solar System on your shelf.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A loving Moon watches and wishes…

Moon Wishes, by Patricia Storms & Guy Storms/Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic, (March 2019, Groundwood Books), $17.95, ISBN: 9781773060767

Ages 4-7

A sweet bedtime story, a loving meditation from caregiver to child, Moon Wishes sees a gently illuminated moon overseeing nature, animals, and humans alike, and wishing all that’s good upon all it touches. The poetic text reads like a parent or caregiver’s loving murmur to a sleepy child, with phrases like, “If I were the moon, I would paint ripples of light on wet canvas and shimmer over dreams of snow…”, and “…if I were the moon, I would make myself big and bright and strong with love so that I could shine on you”. It’s soothing and gentle, comforting and and perfect to read to the little ones curled up in your lap or surrounding your storytime circle.

The watercolor illustrations give a dreamlike depth to the authors’ voices, presenting gently illuminated landscapes, a kind-faced moon lighting the way for animals and humans alike. The colors are soft and bright, landscapes moving from snowy icebergs through waters, forests, and towns. A lovely addition to picture book collections and bedtime storytime.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

What happened to the Moon? Mr. Squirrel and Moon tries to figure it out.

squirrel_2Mr. Squirrel and the Moon, by Sebastian Meschenmoser, (Jan. 2015, North South Books), $18.595, ISBN: 9780735841567

Recommended for ages 3-6

Mr. Squirrel wakes up one morning to discover that the moon has fallen from the sky and landed on his tree! Afraid that he’s going to be blamed for stealing the moon, he desperately tries to get rid of it in this entertaining cumulative tale. The squirrel tries to shove the moon off of his branch, where it lands – and sticks – on a hedgehog. Together, the two attract the attention of a billy goat, some bees, and mice, but can they get the moon back where it belongs before someone notices?

The best parts of Mr. Squirrel and the Moon are the wordless, black and white interludes between episodes of trying to dispose of the moon, when Mr. Squirrel’s imagination takes over, picturing him in a jail cell with a (human) cellmate. The detail is hilarious, from the tiny toilet for the squirrel to the little uniforms for Mr. Squirrel and the rest of the animals as they join him in the cell, to the sight of the moon, back in the sky, with the hedgehog still stuck to it.

The endpapers give readers a clue as to what’s really going on, and the subdued artwork challenges readers to look closer to discover the wonderful little extras Sebastian Meschenmoser adds to his story. This is a fun read-aloud, and is even better for independent readers to sit down and look through at their leisure. There’s so much to discover here.

squirrel_1Image source: PictureThisBook.com

Mr. Squirrel and the Moon was a Winter 2015 Top Ten IndieNext Pick.

 

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Good night, Moon! Max at Night

max at nightMax at Night, by Ed Vere (Sept. 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492632962

Recommended for ages 2-5

I love, love, LOVE Ed Vere’s Max the Brave, so I was insanely excited to see Max at Night show up on NetGalley. I immediately curled up with my 4 year-old and caught up with Max.

Max was very brave when we last met him, but now it’s night time and he has to go to bed. He goes through his night time routine, that all kids will recognize: drinking his milk, brushing his teeth, cleaning behind his ears, saying good night to the moon… but wait! Where is the moon? He can’t see the moon, so Max goes on a quest to find the moon, climbing higher and higher and wishing everything he encounters a good night. Will he find the moon? Come on, I can’t spoil this book, you have to find out on your own!

Max is still adorable, and Max at Night is essential bedtime reading for parents and kids alike. It’s a sweet story that will gently rock you to sleep as you read along. The colors are stunning: deep reds and blues, bright yellows, and Max’s black form pops off the page. My kiddo loved this book, and insisted we re-read Max the Brave and Max at Night, one after the other, to recreate a whole day with Max. What a great idea, right?

Pair this book with Kevin Henkes’ Kitten’s First Full Moon and you’re set for bedtime. Add Eric Carle’s Papa Get the Moon for Me, and you’ve got a Moon storytime that the kids will love.

Want a peek at Max at Night? You know you do! Go to Ed Vere’s website and see for yourself.

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

Our Moon gives us a new look at an old friend

our moonOur Moon: New Discoveries About Earth’s Closest Companion, by Elaine Scott (Feb. 2016, Clarion Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9780547483948

Recommended for ages 10-13

You may have heard the old myth about the man in the moon, or even that the moon was made of green cheese. Did you hear about a Chinese princess named Chang-o or a rabbit, though? Those ancient Chinese stories are only the beginning of what I learned from Elaine Scott’s Our Moon: New Discoveries About Earth’s Closest Companion.

 

Our Moon is a great biography about our one and only satellite, Luna. The Moon. We get her all of her numbers: size, speed, temperature; we learn in depth about her phases, and her origin story. Ms. Scott gives us a history of lunar research and exploration, from the Turkish philosopher Anaxagoras’ ideas about moonlight being a reflection of the sun’s light back in the 5th century B.C.E. to the modern lunar landings and space travel. The book is loaded with photographs and quick facts that make for easy reading. A glossary breaks down terms used in the book, and there are resources for further reading, both on- and offline.

This is the book I’d have wanted in my astronomy library when I was a kid. It’s a great library purchase and a great home library purchase. Our Moon will be available in February, 2016, but you can pre-order it from Amazon.

Elaine Scott is an award-winning nonfiction author of children’s books. Her author website includes information about her books, honors, and school visits.

Posted in Fantasy, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

When You Wish Upon the Moon… Randy DuBurke’s Moon Ring Takes You on a Trip

Book Review: The Moon Ring, by Randy DuBurke, Chronicle Books 2002
Recommended for ages- 4-8

the moon ring

Maxine, a young girl, sits on the porch, with her grandmother, seeking relief from the summer heat, when a magic ring seemingly falls from the blue moon. Maxine is swept away on a magic ride around the world – to the South Pole, a wild savannah, and New York City, accompanied by some new friends. But what happens when she runs out of wishes?

The book is a fun fantasy tale about magic and the moon. We always hear about wishing on a star, but the moon is the star of the show here (no pun intended). Randy DuBurke gives readers a classic fairy tale elements – granting wishes, being transported to exciting adventures and locales, and the temporary scare – the wishes have run out!

Young readers will enjoy the close relationship Maxine and her wise grandma who knows that magic is out there. Maxine is drawn with a wonderfully expressive face – it makes for fun reading, with prompts to children learning about facial expressions and emotions. The exciting, changing landscapes are beautifully rendered in pen, ink, and acrylics on cold waterpress paper. The story uses its space well, alternating between full-bleed spreads and framed panels. I read the digital version of this book, so I can’t speak to the fonts, but I’m sure a read-aloud with the actual book will work better with a young group.

The Moon Ring is a playful, fun book that makes for a good read-aloud session. This would be a great addition to a read-aloud about magic, imagination, or the moon. There are many rhymes and fingerplays about the moon that would be good companions to this book – Hey Diddle Diddle would be a fun start!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Rainstorm, by Barbara Lehman/Illus. by Harry Bliss (Henry Holt & Company, 2004)

rainstormRecommended for ages 3-6

When the moon comes down, in pieces, on a neighborhood street, everyone works together to get it fixed and back up in the sky.

Influenced by the events of September 11th, Jean Gralley wrote this story about a neighborhood’s first responders and citizens coming together in the wake of a potential disaster: the moon falls, breaking into pieces, from the sky. The story celebrates teamwork and its accomplishments as evidenced by the Fire Chief, Rescue Workers, Helper Dogs, and “people everywhere”, all who come running to help, in answer to the question, “Who will make it right again and set it in the air?” A Fred Rogers quote at the beginning of the story reminds children to “Look for the helpers”.

The gouache and mixed media illustrations on white backgrounds soften the images; the author is not interested in focusing on catastrophe, but on collaboration – an important message for a preschool audience. The sparse, rhyming text sits on the page, never intrusive, in a plain black font. Volunteers smile and cheer one another on in their mission, making sure to include everyone: even the Helper Dogs. The book has been used to help children deal with fear and grief surrounding current events like disaster, war, and ever-changing security alerts because of its messages of endurance and optimism.

The book would be a good addition to a read-aloud on rescue workers – firemen, policemen, medical technicians, doctors and nurses – for its positive portrayal of these first responders and their ability to work with everyone around them. Displaying toy fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances around the storytime area will set a mood for the storytime and allow for play. There are firemen and policemen printables available online that children can color and bring home.