Posted in Uncategorized

Pack your bags, we’re going to Antarctica!

Antarctica: Continent of Wonder, by Mario Cuesta Hernando/Illustrated by Raquel Martin, (June 2021, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791374567

Ages 5-8

Are you ready for a journey? Antarctica: Continent of Wonder begins with an invitation to adventure: the narrator has been invited by the United States Antarctic Program to an expedition to Antarctica, and we’re coming along! As we voyage through the colorful pages of this oversize book, we’ll encounter penguins, whales, and seals, watch our shop break through large packs of floating ice, and hunker down in the research station during a snowstorm. Very easy to read, interactive, and with a visually interesting and effective table of contents, this is a great introduction to Antarctica for kids. Facts about the continent pair with spotlights on famed researchers, like Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott; a section on dangers Antarctica faces alerts readers to conservation and environmental concerns like climate change, overfishing, and pollution.

I recently did a “Big Book” virtual readers advisory program with a colleague at my library, because these oversized books may not always get the love they deserve. With beautiful spreads showing humpback whales breaching against a backdrop of ice-covered mountains, or scientists making themselves at home in the research station while a snowstorm rails outside, I can’t wait to show this off at my next Big Book reveal. Give this to your armchair explorers. Revisit NatGeo’s 2020 Virtual Summer in Antarctica for videos and activities to share with your kiddos.

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

Earth Day essentials!

Earth Day is getting closer, friends! I’ve got more fun to celebrate Earth Day every day!

Earth: 100 Piece Puzzle (Featuring Photography from the Archives at NASA), (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781797202723

Ages 6+

This is a slight deviation from books, but how can you go wrong with an Earth-shaped puzzle of the Earth, using a NASA photo? The puzzle is a nice size, at 2 1/2 feet in diameter; pieces are large and sturdy, as is the storage container. It’s a beautiful shot of Earth from space that will delight you as it comes together. This puzzle is a companion to Chronicle’s Moon and Mars puzzles, for anyone interested in building their own universe. A fun, hands-on way to support astronomy and science learners! My Kiddo and I have been trying to put it together for a few weeks now, and it’s coming along; I’ll have to post the finished product.

 

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer, by Aneta Frantiska Holasová, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536214611

Ages 7-10

Bruno is a beekeeping bear, having inherited his grandfather’s apiary. Together with his human Grandma, he spends his time caring for the bees and harvesting their honey in this introduction to beekeeping and the life cycle of bees. Organized into seasons, with warm, honey-colored illustrations, readers learn the different types of bees and their functions within the hive; parasites and predators to watch out for, and they watch Bruno as he goes about the business of cleaning and preparing the hives for the next year. Side notes about Grandma’s part in the beekeeping: helping Bruno prepare the hives, making beeswax candles, and delicious gingerbread cookies with the harvested honey! A lovely book about beekeeping and bees for the season, with a gingerbread cookie recipe and an index. Display with Katherine Pryor’s Bea’s Bees, Maribeth Boelts’s Kaia and the Bees, Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann’s award-winning Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera, and Alison Formento’s These Bees Count! for a nice bee-related display.

 

And coming soon…

The Wild World Handbook: How Adventurers, Artists, Scientists – and You – Can Protect Earth’s Habitats, by Andrea Debbink/Illustrated by Asia Orlando, (May 2021, Quirk Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781683692461

Ages 8-12

The first in a new middle grade series, this volume of The Wild World Handbook focuses on habitats. Organized into nine habitats, from mountains to grasslands, the handbook includes biographical profiles on outdoor scientists, artists, and activists; DIY crafts to give kids a hands-on learning experience and understanding of their world, natural wonders to be found in each habitat, and ways kids can take part in being stewards for the planet. Plan an expedition to the Himalayas or visit an underwater world; make a desert or rainforest biome or learn to press flowers and plants. This is another program-in-a-book treasure for us librarians, and a beautiful, full-color guidebook to earth advocacy for kids. Just in time to get the kids out and about for summer, make sure to display with the upcoming Outdoor School series from Macmillan and Odd Dot.

Posted in picture books

Two books about Trees for Earth Day

I’ve got two more books about trees for Earth Day today! Sit in the great outside with these books and take a nice, deep breath for Earth Day.

The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom, by Lita Judge, (March 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781250237071

Ages 7-12

Verse comes together with nonfiction writing to tell the story of trees, and how they work together to create ecosystems that provide food and shelter to everything around them. Beautiful watercolor and pencil artwork provides visuals that will enchant readers with visions of ancient trees, baby animals, and wooded sanctuaries. Additional back matter includes more information about different types of trees and the dangers posed to our world’s forests.

Teachers Pay Teachers has a great Adopt a Tree lesson and journal, courtesy of Common Core Kelly; it would be a good activity to introduce to grade schoolers as a STEM/STEAM project.

The Wisdom of Trees has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

 

Zee Grows a Tree, by Elizabeth Rusch/Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763697549

Ages 5-8

A baby is born and her mother and father, who run a Christmas tree farm, set aside a Douglas fir seedling that emerges that same day, to be “Zee’s Tree”. Little Zee and her tree grow up together: they both grow bigger and stronger with love and care; when Zee starts preschool, the tree also starts life outside, being planted outside the nursery; Zee makes friends at school, and the tree enjoys company from the local birds. When the tree contracts a heat-related illness, Zee is there to nurse it back to health. Filled with interesting facts about Douglas fir trees, Zee Grows a Tree is a lovely combination of fact and fiction that will draw readers in and maybe encourage them to care for a plant of their own. Mixed media illustrations show peaceful landscapes and two friends growing together. The relationship between Zee and her tree is sweetly depicted. Back matter includes an index and a list for further reading.

Zee Grows a Tree has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

The Way of the Hive tells the story of Clan Apis

The Way of the Hive: A Honeybee’s Story, by Jay Hosler, (Apr. 2021, HarperAlley), $12.99, ISBN: 9780063007352

Ages 8-12

Nyuki is an inquisitive honeybee larva who has a lot of questions for Dvorah, an older bee who ends up being her mentor. Why does her cell have to be capped off? Why does she have to go through metamorphosis? Why are some of the bees getting ready to leave the hive? Can she go? Should she go? Is Dvorah going to go? Dvorah patiently answers Nyuki’s questions, and helps Nyuki develop into an independent member of her colony. The story follows the life journey of one honeybee and the members of her hive. Nyuki is childlike in her interactions, and never loses her sense of wonder and curiosity, making her a wonderful character. She struggles with anxiety about the unknown and adapts, always puzzling over the “inner voice” that spurs her on to adventure. The story is sweet, funny, and moved me to tears. Illustrations are realistic, but Jay Hosler manages to make these realistic depictions of bees simply adorable; readers will want to cherish them and care for them. The science is solid, but never, ever feels like a lecture or a textbook. It’s simply a great story. An absolute must for your graphic novel collections, and perfect for Science Comics readers. Back matter includes even more information about bees.

Did you know World Bee Day is May 20th this year? Visit the Bee Culture website for some resources on bees and celebrating them on their special day. The National Parks Service has a great middle school curriculum for Bee Week available. Author Jay Hosler’s website is a treasure trove of information on using comic books in the classroom (yes!!) and links to more science comics.

The Way of the Hive has a starred review from Kirkus. It was originally published under the title, Clan Apis, in 1998.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Preschool Reads

Mouse takes a trip to the top of a volcano… but when can he get pizza?

A Trip to the Top of the Volcano with Mouse, by Frank Viva, (May 2019, TOON Books), $12.95, ISBN: 9781943145362

Ages 4-7

Mouse and his friend are off to explore Italy and climb Mount Etna in this second Mouse adventure! The explorer can’t wait to go start the adventure, but all Mouse can think of is pizza. Together, the friends lay out the plan: supplies (walking sticks, warm gloves, strong mountain boots, thick sweaters, and cool sunglasses) and set out for the mountain. They discover the different foods that grow at the base of the mountain (but not pizza), hike to the top, and see what types of wildlife wander around the area, before ending their day with a trip to the pizzeria.

A Trip to the Top of the Volcano is a fun mix of fiction and nonfiction, with stylish, vibrant graphics. There’s a beautiful cross-section spread, showing not only how plant life grows up the mountain, but the parts of the volcano, including the magma chamber, vents, and crater. There is information about local wildlife, plant life, and volcano characteristics, all communicated with simple, straightforward sentences that new readers will love reading and pre-readers will love listening to.

This is the second Mouse adventure from Frank Viva and TOON; the first, A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse, sees the two friends off on an expedition to Antarctica. A Trip to the Top of the Volcano with Mouse has a free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction

Explore our natural world with Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats

Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats, by Mia Cassany/Illustrated by Marcos Navarro, (Apr. 2019, Prestel Publishing), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791373720

Ages 6-12

There are incredible wildernesses all over the world. Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats is an introduction to 16 rare plant and animal habitats across the world, from the Amazon Rainforest in South America to the Tropical Rainforest of New Guinea. It’s also a call to action, reminding readers that these wildernesses require protection to keep them safe; Mia Cassany cites deforestation and human intervention as having a disastrous impact on the habitats and the species that live within. So let’s take a look at, as author Mia Cassany says, “the most stunning nature show on earth”!

Beautifully illustrated endpapers bring you into the book with large, colorful tropical leaves – and eyes peeking out of the darkness – drawing you into the wildnerness from the beginning. An opening spread contains an author note on the importance of conservation and preservation, and a world map includes illustrated points where habitat is located. Two-page spreads feature stunning, full-bleed illustrations of every habitats; a brief description gives readers an idea of location and species inhabiting each spot, but it’s the art that’s front-and-center here. Bright, colorful, and lush, we see lowland gorillas peering out of the brush in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in the Congo; a colorful, day-glo spread starring a panda, wild golden monkeys, and golden pheasants in China’s Qinling Mountains, and a stunning gecko camouflaged against leaves in the tropical rainforest in Madagascar. Back matter provides animal names, locates them on the page (they can be hard to spot!), and a brief, informative paragraph on each.

This is a beautiful coffee table book, and a nice addition to your natural history collections. It’s not a standalone book, but a gorgeous companion book to any unit on habitats and nature studies.

 

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.