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 Uncategorized

Little Whale has a long voyage ahead of him…

Little Whale, by Jo Weaver, (Oct. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $17.95, ISBN: 9781682630495

Ages 4-8

Little Whale and Gray Whale are heading off to the North to join the rest of their family. It is not an easy journey, and Little Whale doesn’t know where this place called “home” is; the only thing he knows is that his mother is next to him, keeping him safe. Through underwater forests and midnight skies, cold and dark waters and menacing orcas, Gray Whale urges Little Whale on, keeping him safe and guiding him home, until they hear their family welcome them home.

Little Whale is as much a story for parents as it is for children. Gray Whale is a strong, silent presence, leading her little one through an exhausting journey. Little Whale is afraid of the unknown – he’s surrounded by it! – but implicitly trusts his mother. Like a child on a long journey, he often asks, “are we there yet?”, but Gray Whale never grows impatient; she just keeps swimming. Little Whale is also an exploration of the ocean: the gray-blue and white charcoal art reveals shadowy coral reefs, murky underwater plant life, schools of fish, and a mother guiding her baby on. A brief author’s note talks about gray whale migration.

A nice cuddle-time story that sea life fans will enjoy. See more of Jo Weaver’s artwork on her website.

 

Posted in picture books

Under the Sea books for your favorite fishy fans!

The weather’s warming up, so why not start thinking of ocean-y fun? I’ve got a couple of fun, new books that are perfect for fans of sea life!

Shark Nate-O, by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Apr. 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0496-6

Recommended for readers 4-7

Nate LOVES sharks. He’s got shark posters and books, spouts shark facts all day, and pretends to be a shark, chomping his way through the schoolyard and the dinner table. But Nate has a secret that’s keeping him from fully realizing his full shark potential: he can’t swim. And his school swim team is named The Sharks! Luckily, Nate has the tenacity of a great white, and takes lessons, determined to get on the team and show his brother – who’s also on the swim team – who the real shark is.

This is a fun story about overcoming fear. Nate loves sharks, but he’s got to learn how to swim; his first lesson doesn’t go so well – he feels like a “great white wimp” – but he doesn’t give up, and works harder, until he’s good enough to make it on the team and compete at the swim meet. The art is kid-friendly, with a great cover: Nate casts a shark-y shadow as he stands at the tiled floor of a pool area; the endpapers show wavy, bluish-green water with a single shark fin navigating the spreads. There’s a spread on different kinds of sharks, with fun facts (the blue shark eats until he throws up – and then goes back to eating). Kids, parents, and caregivers alike will enjoy reading this one.

 

Inky the Octopus: Bound for Glory, by Erin Guendelsberger/Illustrated by David Leonard, (Apr. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN:9781492654148

Recommended for readers 4-8

Based on a real-life story, Inky the Octopus is a rhyming tale about an octopus who escapes his New Zealand aquarium tank and heads out for the open sea. When we first meet Inky, he’s bored, maybe even a little sad, with his fish friend, Blotchy, for company. But he spies an open drain and that’s it: “Out of this tank, I must be free/I must explore the open sea!” Inky gets ready to make his escape, asking Blotchy to come with him – an invitation that his friend politely declines. The next morning, the discovery is made: Inky is gone, free to experience life in the ocean.

The real-life Inky escaped from his National Aquarium of New Zealand tank in 2016, when aquarium keepers came into work and noticed that the octopus wasn’t in his tank. It appears that he slipped through a small opening in his tank, maneuvered across the floor, and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that led out to Hawke’s Bay. There’s even a real-life Blotchy, but he’s another octopus, not a fish. While there are other children’s books about Inky, including 2017’s Inky’s Great Escape by Casey Lyell and Sebastià Serra, Inky the Octopus is officially endorsed by the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

The artwork is adorable and the rhyming text gives a nice cadence to storytelling that allows for dramatic embellishment (at least, when I read it: he’s an octopus, he’s got eight arms, give him some grand gestures!) Inky has big, sweet eyes that will appeal to readers and have them falling in love with the sweet cephalopod, rooting for him to make a run for it. Information about the real-life Inky at the book’s conclusion adds a nice learning opportunity for readers.

 

Sea Creatures from the Sky, by Ricardo Cortés, (Apr. 2018, Black Sheep), $16.95, ISBN: Ricardo Cortés

Recommended for readers 4-8

A shark’s tale of being kidnapped by aliens! Kind of. A shark speaks directly to the reader in rhyme, confiding in us a true story that happened to him: he was kidnapped by aliens from the sky. Now, remember: when a shark looks up, that’s the sky. We know it as the surface. As the shark notes: “There is something else/and that’s no lie. It stole me from the ocean, and took me to the sky.” The poor shark sees a yummy fish, goes for a snack, and discovers – whoops! – the fish has a hook. And those aliens were terrifying: “In ships they steered? Faces with beards? Heads with two ears? It was all just too weird.” To add insult to injury, no one believes him. What’s a poor shark to do?

I loved everything about this story. The art is just beautiful, from the endpapers that could be a starry night sky or the surface of the water at night; the combination of realistic and almost dreamlike renderings of sea life, from the hazy, colorful jellyfish to the crisp spread of rays making their way through the story, to the black-eyed protagonist whose tale will make you chuckle and yet, feel for his plight (gender pronoun is mine; the character has no determined gender in the story). It’s a look at preservation and oceanography from a different point of view, and makes a realistic-looking shark less threatening, even likable. Kids will appreciate the misunderstood predator; how many times have kids been called out for exaggerating a recollection that is absolutely true from their point of view? Sea Creatures From the Sky provides a good jumping-off point to discuss point-of-view storytelling and what exactly the humans were doing with the shark when they “measured, probed, and spoke in strange code”. This one is a must-add to storytimes and books where sharks and undersea life are popular. Which, really, has to be, like every collection. Kids LOVE sharks.

Ricardo Cortés illustrated one of my baby shower gifts, Go The F**k to Sleep (no, I’ve never read it to the kiddo, but it did comfort me on many a sleepless night), and its child-friendly companion, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Two Little White Fish books make for a fishy storytime!

Little White Fish Is So Happy, by Guido van Genechten, (March 2017, Clavis Books), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-6053-7326-3

Recommended for reads 2-6

Little White Fish is so happy! His mom is here to pick him up and take him home! He says goodbye to all of his friends, and heads home with his mom.

Kids will love Little White Fish’s excitement – who doesn’t love when Mommy comes to take them home? Children who spend the day with a daycare provider, whether it’s daycare or a caregiver, will recognize the joy of going home, the routine of saying goodbye to friends, and the playful fun of running up ahead of Mom on the way home. Alternate caregivers can easily switch “Mom” to “Grandma”, “Dad”, or any name during a read-aloud.

 

Well Done, Little White Fish!, by Guido van Genechten, (March 2017, Clavis Books), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-6053-7327-0

Recommended for readers 2-6

Little White Fish teaches readers that everyone has a talent in this story. Little Crab can cut sea grass with his claws; Turtle can carry a heavy rock on his back, and Sea Urchin can do somersaults. Little White Fish watches each of his friends perform aquatic feats with some amazement – and maybe a little envy – until he discovers that he can swim really well, even in ways his friends can’t. His friends encourage him and cheer him on as he finds his special knack, teaching readers that encouraging your friends and cheering them on is far better than being jealous or feeling bad.

Each of the books feature bright black backgrounds on each page, allowing the bright white Little White Fish (and the soft coloring on his head), to stand out and catch little eyes. Little White Fish’s friends are all brightly colored, and the textured colorwork really gives the sea creatures and their environs a nice depth.

Both books, originally published in Dutch in 2016, are additions to Guido van Genechten’s Little White Fish series, which spans both picture and board books.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Realistic Fiction

#AnimalPlanetAdventures mix fiction and fact for maximum fun!

Animal Planet has great nonfiction for kids. I particularly love their Animal Bites series, which looks at animals from different habitats, and offers a rich mix of beautiful photos and easy-to-read facts. For those beginning readers who want to feel part of an animal adventure, Liberty Street – Animal Planet’s publisher, a division of Time Inc. Books – introduced Animal Planet Adventures chapter books earlier this year. I read the first two adventures, Dolphin Rescue and Farm Friends Escape!

Animal Planet Adventures: Dolphin Rescue, by Catherine Nichols, (Feb. 2017, Liberty Street), $5.95, ISBN: 978-1-61893-417-8

Dolphin Rescue introduces us to siblings Maddie and Atticus, who live off the coast of Maine with their single dad and volunteer at the local aquarium. While trying to solve a rash of trash dumping incidents happening throughout their town, they notice a pod of dolphins in the nearby cove, looking very distressed. They’ll need to use their knowledge of animals, plus their problem-solving skills to help the pod out.

 

Animal Planet Adventures: Farm Friends Escape!, by Catherine Nichols, (Feb. 2017, Liberty Street), $5.95, ISBN: 978-1-61893-416-1

In Farm Friends Escape!, we meet cousins Luke and Sarah, who spend every summer at their grandparents’ farm. This year, their grandparents put them in charge of running the farm’s petting zoo. They’re thrilled, even if they don’t always agree on how to get things up and running. A mysterious kid lingers around the farm, though; and while they’re trying to figure him out, they discover that somehow, the animals have all gotten loose! The cousins need to track down each of the petting zoo escapees, relying on their animal knowledge and deduction skills – and they need to figure out how they got loose in the first place.

Animal Planet Adventures is a great way to reach readers who may struggle with nonfiction, but love a good story. There’s a little bit of mystery in each storyline, so your series fiction fans who love books like Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries, Capital Mysteries, and Calendar Mysteries will gobble these up. Books are in full color – both story illustration and nonfiction sections – and feature the beautiful photography that we already love in Animal Planet books. Nonfiction sections are spread evenly throughout the book, so it flows with the overall narrative of the story, often fleshing out information contained in the plotline. I don’t know if future books (there are two more adventures – Puppy Rescue Riddle and Zoo Camp Puddle – releasing in September) will introduce more new characters or if we’ll meet Mattie, Atticus, Luke, and Sarah again, but the character pair-ups are fun and appeal to both boys and girls. I’ve just ordered a set of Adventures for my library, because series fiction and animal nonfiction is aces around here. Display with your series mystery fiction and your animal nonfiction – it all works!

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate

Narwhal & Jelly: Besties under the sea!

narwhalNarwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton, (Dec. 2016, Tundra Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781101918715

Recommended for ages 5-8

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal is a wild imagination. Jelly is… not. That’s okay by Narwhal, they both bond over a mutual love of waffles, parties, and having adventures! Together, the two friends recruit other sea friends into their own little group and read the best book ever – so what if it doesn’t have words or pictures? They have imagination!

This hybrid intermediate novel/graphic novel is perfect for beginning readers (psst… and grown-ups) who love silly jokes, adorable art, and fun. Kids will enjoy this Odd Couple under the sea, and learn that friends don’t have to enjoy all of the same things to get along. The art is squeal-worthy adorable, and the dialogue between the two friends is light and fun. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea has hit it big with readers, too: the book has received multiple awards and praise, including a starred Kirkus review, designation as the Best of the Year in 2016 by both Amazon and Kirkus, and was put on the Texas 2×2 Reading List.

 

If you lovsupernarwhaled Narwhal’s first book, get ready: Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (May 2017, Tundra, $12.99, ISBN: 9781101919194) is coming in May! In their second outing, the two best friends become super heroes – now, if they could just figure out what their powers are… As with the first book, Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt features three short stories connected by the overall plot thread: in this case, being a superhero and a friend. Friendship, imagination, and self-esteem are enduring themes.

Ben Clanton has some fun extras available online. His website links to his Instagram, if you want to see even more of his art as he posts it; the site hosts his blog, which spotlights even more of his artwork, including this awesome “Jellin'” piece:

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There’s also a Narwhal and Jelly site, with comics, printables, jokes, and early art mock-ups. This is a super-fun set to add to your graphic novels and intermediate books, and you can display with the veritable plethora of narwhal-related books coming out, like Jessie Sima’s Not Quite Narwhal and Wendell the Narwhal by Emily Dove. Make a display and feature some non-fiction narwhal and jellyfish-related books, or get a whole sea life shelf up, featuring fiction and nonfiction for some related reads.

Posted in Early Reader, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Something’s Fishy introduces kids to fishy fun

fishy_1Something’s Fishy, by Kevin McCloskey, (April 2017, TOON Books), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1-943145-15-7

The man behind Toon’s Easy to Read Giggle and Learn series is back again with his fun blend of science and art. Something’s Fishy teaches young readers about fish – from the ABCs (there’s a fish for every letter of the alphabet), to biology, to the history of keeping goldfish as pets, Mr. McCloskey uses his acrylic and gouache artwork to illustrate all kinds of fish. He also discusses responsible pet ownership by mentioning that some fish, while popular film characters, aren’t really supposed to be pets: they’re much happier in their natural environments. A just-about-actual-size rendering of a foot-long goldfish will make readers giggle… and learn!

I love the trend of graphic novels as nonfiction texts, and Kevin McCloskey’s work for young readers and listeners are among some of my favorites. We Dig Worms and The Poop On Pigeons are in constant rotation at my library, and I can’t wait to introduce kids to fish with Something’s Fishy. His books make for excellent nonfiction storytime reading and pair nicely with picture books. You can very easily pair Something’s Fishy with Rainbow Fish, Lois Ehlert’s Rain Fish, or any number of fish or sea life-related stories. This is a fun add to nonfiction collections and a great gift for your younger Nemo and Octonauts fans.

 

Posted in Preschool, Storytime, Toddler

Storytime: The Ocean!

It’s been a while since I posted a storytime, but since I just posted a review for NatGeo’s Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Ocean Blue, I thought I’d post the storytime that accompanied it.

The Ocean!

Opening Song: Hello, My Friends!

Hello, my friends, hello!
Hello, my friends, hello!
Hello, my friends, hello, my friends,
Hello, my friends, hello!

Story: Crabby Crab, by Chris Raschka

Rhyme: Five Cranky Crabs
Five cranky crabs were digging on the shore.
One swam into a net and then there were four.
Four cranky crabs were floating in the sea.
One got tangled up in seaweed then there were three.
Three Cranky crabs were wondering what to do.
One dug a deep, deep hole. Then there were two.
Two cranky crabs were warming in the sun.
One got scooped up in a cup. Then there was one.
One cranky crab was smarter than his friends.
He hid between the jagged rocks.
That’s how the story ends.
(from Preschool Education)

Story: Whaley Whale, by Chris Raschka

Song: The Whales (sing to “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m a humpback whale
I’m very strong.
I leap about
And sing a song.
I like to eat my fill
In the Northern Sea.
But in the winter,
South I flee.

I am a beluga,
I’m all white.
From head to tail
I’m quite a sight.
You can hear me singing
Way up north,
Playing and swimming
Back and forth.

I’m a mighty orca
Black and white.
In the sea
I’m a beautiful sight.
I’m not very big,
But I am sleek.
I hunt for my food
Cause I have teeth.
(from Preschool Education)

Story: I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, by Kevin Sherry

Song: Una sardina/Slippery Fish
Una sardina, una sardina,
Nadando en el agua,
Una sardina, una sardina,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comida por …

Un pulpito, un pulpito,
Nadando en el agua,
Un pulpito, un pulpito,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comido por …

Un atún, un atún,
Nadando en el agua,
Un atún, un atún,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comido por …

Un tiburón, un tiburón,
Nadando en el agua,
Un tiburón, un tiburón,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comido por …

Una ballena, una ballena,
Nadando en el agua,
Una ballena, una ballena,
Glú, glú, glú

¡PERDÓNA ME!

Closing Song: Goodbye, My Friends!

Goodbye, my friends, goodbye!
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye!
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye, my friends,
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye!

I used five cartoon cranky crab picture from Google Images for the Cranky Crab rhyme, and we counted down each time a crab disappeared in the song. I also used Google Images to get cartoon pictures of all the sea life in the Slippery Fish song, which my crowd loves, since I’m actually able to perform it halfway decently in Spanish. You can find lyrics in English and Spanish here.

 

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

Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue!

big blueOcean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue, by Johanna Rizzo (May 2016, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426325069

Recommended for ages 8-12

When you have a book featuring real life Dory on the cover and a Nemo on the first page of a book, you know NatGeo is paying attention to what kids like. Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue is another home run from NatGeo Kids, combining breathtaking photos of ocean life (blobfish and anglerfish are breathtaking, if a bit in that gasp of “WHOA!” kind of way, after all) with interesting facts, information, and advocacy. Chapters are broken down by oceans of the world; the three layers the ocean, and the animals that inhabit them, featuring a great infographic; sharks and rays; marine mammals; a separate chapter on whales and dolphins; marine birds; ocean habitats; the Pristine Seas Project, and 20 Ways You Can Protect the Ocean. A glossary and index complete the volume.

I used this book as a companion to my ocean storytime today; it was great to be able to show the kids a beluga whale and an orca after we sang our song about whales. Saying the name over and over is one thing; seeing a picture of the real animal is another. I love NatGeo’s focus on advocacy, and how the organization empowers kids to take action to preserve their planet.

20160825_104603Sorry for the photo glare! Love this detailed infographic.

You all know I love NatGeo books, and now you know this copy’s already in my library. My little guy loves his copy; even though he’s only 4 years old, he loves looking at the photos, and I modify/paraphrase some of the information when he wants me to read it to him. This one’s a great selection for middle grade nonfiction collections and animal lovers.

20160825_104615Beautiful photo of a sea anemone

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

Tristan Hunt graphic novel teaser!

Tristan Hunt fans! As if you weren’t already excited for the next chapter in the Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series, here’s one more thing to look forward to: The Shark Whisperer graphic novel teaser included in Stingray City!

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Illustrated by Molly Murakami, The Shark Whisperer is going graphic – just like the Percy Jackson graphic novels, which bring exciting life to the unputdownable books – and you can find the first chapter on www.teamtristan.com RIGHT NOW. Come May, you’ll find Tristan and his first encounter with the shark tank, lovingly tucked into your copy of Stingray City. Will we get an online comic, or a full graphic novel version of the series? We can hope, right?

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In the meantime, take a look at the Shark Whisperer excerpt I’ve got here, or point your browser to www.teamtristan.com and follow Mighty Media on Pinterest for teacher and librarian resources.

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