Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Animal Board Books!

Everyone doing the Tails and Tales summer reading program will love these board books – heck, anyone who loves board books will!

Pigs at a Party, by Hans Wilhelm/Illustrated by Erica Salcedo, (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781797203751

Ages 0-3

It’s a party, and you’re invited! A magnetic bow opens to let readers in to this rhyming story of manners and parties as three piggies are invited to their friend, Bunny’s, birthday party! They’re so polite, greeting each of their friends, saying “please” and “thank you”, and playing nicely with the other guests. The third book starring Hans Wilhelm’s Piggies, kids will enjoy seeing this group spend more fun time together, modeling the best behavior. Digital illustrations are bright and cheery, and the magnetic bow closure adds a little bit of fine motor play.

 

Sophie’s Seashell Scramble, by Educational Insights/Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti, (May 2021, Candlewick Entertainment), $11.99, ISBN: 9781536218480

Ages 0-3

Help Sophie the Otter find the matches to the seashells she’s collecting by lifting the flaps and identifying the patterns! Colorful, cartoon illustrations and bold fonts lead little explorers through the story, and descriptions of each shell help readers identify the lost treasure; Sophie holds the matching shell in each spread, helping new learners link the description to the appearance of an object. Kids can lift three flaps on each page that guide them to the right answer. Turn the wheel at the end, to help Otto the Octopus juggle all the shells together! Based on a board game, this would be a cute idea to pair with the board game for preschoolers as either a gift or, if your budget allows, a library purchase for game time and post-storytime activities. (Educational Insights has several lift-the-flap board books and companion games; something to keep your mind on when you get your annual budgets.)

123 Cats: A Counting Book, by Lesléa Newman/Illustrated by Isabella Kung, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536209952

Ages 0-3

Learn to count with this rhyming story about adorable kitties! Award-winning children’s author Lesléa Newman weaves an adorable story, counting cats from 1 to 12, where the cats interact with each other as the story progresses: “Cat Number One has nothing to do… / until she makes friends with Cat Number Two”; “Cat Number Two is a sweet as can be… / but not quite as sweet as Cat Number Three”. Colorful numbers are easy to read on each spread, and the cats multiply, letting readers count the felines as they increase. Absolutely adorable, this is a perfect counting story that begs for snuggly plush friends for readers to read along with.

 

ABC Cats: An Alpha-Cat Book, by Lesléa Newman/Illustrated by Isabella Kung, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536209952

Ages 0-3

Lesléa Newman and Isabella Kung bring the magic of cats to the alphabet with their Alpha-Cat story, ABC Cats. Precious cats sleep, play, and doze, curled around oversized letters of the alphabet as a gentle rhyme, with adjectives describing each cat, run across the bottom of the pages: “Adorable cat with eyes of gold / Baby cat just two weeks old”. Isabella Kung’s ink and digital illustrations are so playful and delightful that they’ll enchant readers of any age. These two cat books are a must add to your collections, especially where you have animal lovers.

Posted in Non-fiction, picture books

A look at an ecosystem in crisis: If You Take Away the Otter

If You Take Away the Otter, by Susannah Buhrman-Deever/Illustrated by Matthew Trueman, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763689346

Ages 5-8

A moving look at how ecosystems are connected, If You Take Away the Otter begins with a discussion on the kelp forests in the Pacific Coast waters. Towering kelp trees can grow up to a foot a day, and are full of living creatures: abalones, clams, sea stars, and more find their shelter within the kelp. Sea otters hunt in these waters, requiring about a quarter of their own body weight in food to keep warm (kids would need to eat about 24 hamburgers a day as an equivalent!). Otters keep the food web in balance. In the 18th century, the international fur trade came to the Pacific waters, and otters were hunted for their pelts: which caused a disastrous fallout in the ecosystem. With the otter population decimated, sea urchins proliferated, eating the kelp forests to their bottoms, forming “urchin barrens”. When people above noticed the change, they enacted laws to protect the remaining population; the otters returned, got control of the urchins, and new kelp once again flourished. As the story says: “Those forests are homes again for crabs and snails, sea worms and shrimps. They make safe places for the fish and their eggs. There is food for the seaweed eaters; there is food for the hunters. There is just enough of everything to help the kelp forests, and all that depend on them, thrive”. An author’s note highlights the importance of food webs in our ecosystems, and how a change in one part of the web affects both the ecosystem and the people – in this case, the Indigenous Peoples of the northern Pacific –  who depend on them to survive and thrive. There are resources available for further reading and research.

Mixed media illustrations run primarily blue and green, showing both a thriving and a struggling underwater world. The otters are rendered in beautiful detail, and the floating kelp is almost tangible as it dances across the page. The artwork is just brilliant and gives real life to the factual text. Small callouts throughout offer deeper reading about the effects of environmental change.

A solid book to have in your natural history collections. When my Corona kids come in looking for food webs/ecosystems information, this is a book I want to have handy for them.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Empathy and fun make up the heart of The Sinking of Captain Otter

The Sinking of Captain Otter, by Troy Wilson/Illustrated by Maira Chiodi, (Oct. 2018, OwlKids Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781771473118

Ages 4-7

Kelpy is an otter who loves the sea and fancies himself a sea captain. He’s got the heart for it. The head for it. He’s even got the hat for it! Building a ramshackle ship from scraps, that’s everything he could ever dream of, he sails the high seas, despite the cruel jokes and jabs from pirates, sharks, other otters, even the waves themselves. Sure, he cries a little, but he loves his ship and that’s that. But one day, he meets Blistering Blastering Butterbeard, a teeny, tiny pirate on a teeny, tiny boat of his own, who challenges Kelpy. Well, Kelpy can’t help it: he laughs, too. And Butterbeard cries a little. And then he cries a lot. Kelpy knows he has to do the right thing, and proceeds to cut up his ship to make Butterbeard feel better, telling him that his cannonball sunk the ship. Face to face, the two adversaries know what they have to do: rebuild their ships and play on!

Captain Otter is a story about empathy and doing unto others (or otters, as the case may be): Kelpy knows what it’s like to be laughed at and poked fun at, so when he does it to someone else – and sees the repercussions of his actions – he makes amends, paving the way to a brand new friendship. It’s a sweet story whose repetition drives home the important points of the story, particularly persistence and devotion (“He loved his ship. He loved her from keel to cabin to crow’s nest. So he took a deep breath, straightened his hat, and sailed on”). Scuttling his own ship to make Butterbeard feel better is a completely selfless act that opens the door to a friendship between the two; something we see as the two laugh together, play together, and share tea together, along with a black bird that appears in the story. It’s a good story for storytimes and to start a discussion on doing what you love, and how our actions affect others.