Posted in Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Books About Nature to Brighten Your Spring

It’s time for a roundup! This time, we’ve got nature books to enjoy now that the Spring weather finally looks like it’s going to stick around. Get comfortable by your favorite tree, or sit in the warmth of the sun, and enjoy some of these Spring-y books.

Be Thankful for Trees : A tribute to the many & surprising ways trees relate to our lives, by Harriet Ziefert/Illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald, (March 2022, Red Comet Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781636550206

Ages 4-8

This is a fantastic way to introduce younger readers to all the great ways people and animals depend on trees! A rhyming tale expounds on the seven big things trees provide: food; comfort; music; art; recreation; home, and life. Colorful illustrations shows trees in nature, and how they’re used in day-to-day life, from providing a forest full of animals with food, to a kitchen table seating a family for dinner; from a child playing a piano, to a bird feeding her babies high up on a branch. Each area opens with a repetitive question and answer: “Would life be satisfying/good/possible without trees? It would not!” During a read-aloud, it’s the perfect opportunity for interaction; invite your littles to tell you what they think. The verse reminds also readers that trees are essential to life on earth, and the man-made disasters that threaten them, like deforestation and forest fire; Ziefert encourages readers to “explore a cool forest with its pine-scented breeze” and to “remember forever, BE THANKFUL FOR TREES!”. Playful, cheery color illustrations add to the fun verse, and golden leaves pop from the blue endpapers, really making this a wonderful book for early childhood natural science readalouds.

Author Harriet Ziefert has written hundreds of children’s books. You can see more of illustrator Brian Fitzgerald’s work at his website.

Visit Red Comet’s book detail page for a free, downloadable Teachers Guide. TeachersPayTeachers has a wealth of free learning activities about trees. I really like the idea of adopting a “class tree” and journaling observations over the course of a school year, as Robynn Drerup’s class has. Amanda Whitaker also has a fun tree journal for kids. Our Time to Learn’s Tree Animals Coloring sheet is great to hand out after a readaloud.

Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons, by Leda Schubert/Illustrated by Clover Robin, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536211023

Ages 4-8

Every season comes with its own unique firsts and lasts. Leda Schubert and illustrator Clover Robin beautifully capture these moments in Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Season. Organized by season, the book offers gentle observation designed to provoke memories and warm feelings as we follow family through the year: Spring is the last time they (and we) wear snowsuits and build snow forts, but it’s the first time they see new grass, and wash the car; in the Fall, it’s the last time for things like going to the ice cream stand, but it’s the first time for seeing wooly caterpillars and jumping in leaves. Cut paper illustrations add a playful whimsy and the colors capture the feelings for each season; crisp winter skies and warm autumn leaves; bright spring flowers and lush summer landscapes. It’s a wonderful illustration of the transition nature – and people! – go through from season to season, and offers opportunities for kids to share their observations on seasonal change.

First and Lasts has a starred review from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

KB3Teach has a fun Seasons Cut and Paste activity on TeachersPayTeachers that nicely extends this book. Teresa Tretbar’s Amazing Literacy has seasonal coloring pages and posters for you to hand out, too.

Olaf Hajek’s Fantastic Fruits, by Olaf Hajek (Illustrations) and Annette Roeder (Text), (Apr. 2022, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791375069

Ages 6-9

Olaf Hajek has made beautiful art from vegetables and flowers; now, fruit gets the Hajek treatment in Olaf Hajek’s Fantastic Fruits. Annette Roeder returns to provide fun and interesting profiles on 25 fruits, like the pomegranate, also known as the “apple of discord” that was created, according to Greek myth, by an angry goddess of strife and discord; the banana, whose curve is slowly being bred out of the fruit in order to make for easier stacking; and the fig, whose juice can help against insect bites. Factual information on each fruit’s countries of origin, and other names and varieties of each fruit run across the bottom of each profile, and – as we’ve come to expect from Hajek – colorful, stunning portraits are the star of the show in this oversized volume. A fox and a woman collect orange juice from giant fruits hanging from a tree in one painting; another woman serves cherry cake to a young boy and a bird as cherries hang from a tree and provide a headdress; a porcupine carries a gigantic blackberry and raspberry on its back through a field. Hajek’s playfully surreal artwork is sure to catch eyes and make new fans as they pore through the pages of this gorgeous book. Great for art sections and 634 sections (fruits, naturally!).

Visit Olaf Hajek’s illustrator webpage for more of his work.

 

What’s Cooking in Flowerville? Recipes from Balconies, Rooftops, and Gardens, by Felicita Sala, (Apr. 2022, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791375182

Ages 6-10

Flowerville is a bustling, multicultural neighborhood where everyone loves to grow and share food! Beginning in April, the book takes readers through the year, month by month, with Flowerville citizens tending to their plants: in April, Maria chops down her asparagus spears; in July, Ramon tests the floating ability of a cucumber as his parent waters the plants. Each month features a new recipe, made with ingredients shown in the artwork. In July, we get creamy tzatziki sauce; in November, roasted beet dip. Warm and colorful artwork shows families and friends sharing food and friendship, and gardening tips and recipes make this a handy gardening guide for families and classes. Pair with Francine Sala’s What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street and Cynthia Cliff’s Pie for Breakfast for a worldwide trip for the palate.

Felicita Sala’s webpage has more of her illustration work, and a link to her food illustration is a must-see.

 

Posted in picture books

Snow Angel, Sand Angel welcomes you to Hawai’i

Snow Angel, Sand Angel, by Lois-Ann Yamanaka/Illustrated by Ashley Kukashevsky, (Jan. 2022, Make Me a World), $17.99, ISBN: 9780593127377

Ages 4-8

Explore Hawai’i, where you can find sand and snow, depending on where you are! Claire is a girl living in Hawai’i, surrounded by Hapuna Beach and the mountains of the Big Island. When she has to do a school project on winter, she’s stumped: she’s never seen snow! Dad decides to take the family to Mauna Kea, where they can enjoy snow, but it’s not the trip Claire’s dreamed of: what she pictures in her head doesn’t quite match the movies, and having to drive through black lava fields to play in “old snow” that isn’t freshly fallen is a disappointment; so is using beach towels for scarves and old socks for mittens. When she and her family go to the beach right before the New Year, though, she discovers she can make her own winter wonderland in the middle of the sand: there are sand balls, sandmen who look great sporting beach towel scarves and straw hats, and sand angels to make! As she watches the sun set, Claire realizes that she lives in a beautiful land that has many, many faces: “… lava fields, sandy beaches, rain forests, fiery volcanoes, sacred mountains, and, yes, even snow”. Digital illustrations bring the magic of Hawai’i’s sunsets, oceans, and snowy mountains to life. An author’s note mentions the diversity found in Hawai’i, where you can find ten of the world’s fourteen climate zones and countless endangered plants and animals. There’s a glossary and a note from Christopher Myers, creative director for the Make Me a World imprint, on how Snow Angel, Sand Angel takes us to a different world.

Lois-Ann Yamanaka is an award-winning author from Hawai’i. Ashley Lukashevsky is the illustrator of Antiracist Baby by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Visit Ashley Lukashevsky’s website for more of her artwork. Visit Twinkl.com for a free Hawai’i coloring sheet; there are also many activity and coloring sheets to discover on Education.com.

Snow Angel, Sand Angel has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Hello, Rain! is all-weather reading

Hello, Rain!, by Kyo Maclear/Illustrated by Chris Turnham, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452138190

Ages 3-6

A child delights in the before, during, and after of a rain shower in this cheery, colorful story. Kyo Maclear uses all sorts of literary devices to make this a joy to read to little ones, embracing rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia to weave a poetic love letter to a rainy day. Our main character and her canine companion dance, splash, and revel in the rain, Chris Turnham’s providing wonderful visual accompaniment as the raindrops glisten off leaves, splash out at us, and allow us to follow the girl and her cheery, colorful umbrella through the story. Once inside, the two companions shake off the droplets and discover the fun ways to spend time indoors; from board games to blanket forts.  When all is said and done, it’s time to greet the sun. Endpapers lead readers in with a a blue, spotty beginning and an emerging yellow. Delightful. Add to your rainy day collections with favorites like Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee, Sam Usher’s Storm, and one of my all-time favorites, Mushroom in the Rain by Mira Ginsburg.

Visit author Kyo Maclear’s website for more information about her kids’ books, and illustrator Chris Turnham’s website for a glimpse at more of his artwork

Hello, Rain! has starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gorgeous concept books for toddlers and preschoolers!

There are some some amazing concept books in the publishing pipeline that are going to make toddler storytimes even more fun. Grab some colorful scarves, egg shakers, and art supplies because you’re going to want to hold an art storytime with these books as your foundation.

Lili’s Seasons, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361043

Ages 2-6

Lucie Albon’s “On the Fingertips” series illustrates concepts using finger-and hand-painted artwork that kids are going to love – and that they’ll be able to try on their own. Two mice, Lily and Henri, explore the seasons. Each seasons is set off with a spread of what you’ll discover on the pages – or outside! – for each season. In the fall, you’ll look for autumn leaves, pine cones, and squirrels; in the winter, there will be mittens, wool socks, hot chocolate, and snowflakes. Lili and Henri enjoy the gifts of every season, together, whether having hot chocolate at home in the winter or visiting the beach in the summer. Back matter teaches readers how to “draw with their fingertips”, and provides instruction on necessary supplies, and how to use the paint on your hands and fingers to create clouds and trees through the seasons. The book has a create space for exploration, but if you’re using this in your library, consider having a create space ready for your library kiddos, stocked with paper, art materials, and smocks or old t-shirts. If you’re like me, and still virtual, you can explore doing a virtual art program, and offering some supplies via grab-and-go promotion. Colorful, bright, and absolutely “you can do this!” kid-friendly, this is a fun new series that I’m looking forward to spending time with.

 

Lili’s Colors, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361036

Ages 2-6

In the companion “On the Fingertips” book to Lili’s Seasons, Lili’s Colors brings Lili and Henri back to talk about color. The two friends enjoy red lollipops, cuddle yellow chicks, sail on blue water, and spend a colorful day together, wandering across brightly colored, finger-painted spreads. Colors are featured in a bigger, bolder font, in their own shades, and the text – dialogue between Henri and Lili – is brief and perfect for young listeners and readers. A finger paint workshop section goes over primary and secondary colors, color mixing, and how to paint your fingers and hands to create the artwork in the book and a self-portrait. A spread showing paintings by children encourages readers with a “you can do it!” attitude! Adorable and cheery, this is an adorable new series for burgeoning artists.

 

Colors de la Runway, by Clarence Ruth, (Feb. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764356834

Ages 2-6

How, oh how, did I miss this when it came out the first time? I owe Schiffer big thanks for sending me a copy of Colors de la Runway to rectify my not seeing this earlier. Colors de la Runway is a concept book on color by Clarence Ruth, fashion designer and creative director of Cotte D’Armes. Vibrant colors named in both English and French come off the page as model sketches show off fashions and accessories in 20 spreads: red/rouge dresses, light blue/bleu clair eyeshadow and the peek of a shirt under a jacket, brown/marron frames to a pair of dramatic glasses. Clarence Ruth’s book is inspiration for older readers who love fashion and art, and for littles who want to learn their colors with some pizzaz. Stunning, playful, and absolutely fun: get out a feather boa and giant sunglasses and have yourself a fashion storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

We only get one world. Books to help us care for it.

Bea’s Bees, by Katherine Pryor/Illustrated by Ellie Peterson, (March 2019, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764356995

Ages 5-8

Beatrix is a young girl who loves to listen to and watch the bees buzzing around their hive in a tree on her way home from school. They zig and zag from flower to flower, and head back to the hive, weighed down with pollen and nectar. But one day, the tree is silent, and Bea discovers that the flowers by the tree have all been cut down. She take a trip to the library and researches bees: what flowers they like to feast on, the important part bees play in our own food web, and how some bees are an endangered species. She takes action, planting seeds for mint, clover, and flowers that bees like; she encourages others to plant wildflowers, even handing out seed packets; she even does her science fair project on bees. Can Bea’s dedication bring the bees back to the tree? A moving story about the impact one person can make on helping the environment, Bea’s Bees is realistic fiction that weaves information about bees, environmental impact, and activism seamlessly into the story of a young girl. Back matter has more information about being a friend to bees, and the artist’s rendering of plants that Bea grows in her garden will encourage readers to grab their shovels and some seeds. Endpapers feature dancing, realistic bees against a white backdrop. A good pick to put aside for Earth Day. Read and display with Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann’s award-winning Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. If you’re doing grab-and-go bags, consider handing out some seeds for flowers that will grow in your area and that bees enjoy. I looked at the NY State Parks blog and found this article; the Native NY Gardens website also has helpful information. Buggy and Buddy has adorable and affordable craft ideas and books to feature.

 

The Tiny Giant, by Barbara Ciletti/Illustrated by Cathy Morrison, (Sept. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764360299

Ages 5-8

On the heels of Earth Day is Arbor Day (April 30th in 2021), and The Tiny Giant is great Arbor Day reading. A tiny acorn falls from a blue jay’s mouth, and settles into the ground as the seasons, and life, goes on around it. As the seasons change, the seed within the acorn swells and bursts through, with roots anchoring a tentative sapling poking up through the dirt. The sapling will grow until one day, it will provide acorns for future trees, too. The Tiny Giant plays with perspective, shifting from traditional left-right reading to top-bottom as the tree grows, letting storytime listeners see the exciting shift as the tree grows tall. One and two-sentence spreads use beautiful language to describe the sights unfolding: “…blossoms parade along the branches of the tall oak”, “Buds dress in sleeves of summer’s glory”, “…warm summer rain feed the little seed as it sends a single spare thread of life toward the sky”. The story is about a tiny acorn, but the incredible, detailed artwork shows the life that goes on around the acorn as it begins its journey into a mighty tree; seasons pass, animals wander the landscape in search of food and shelter, leaves curl and wither in the snow, and ripe blackberries burst through the pages as spring arrives. It’s a celebration of life and nature, a look at seasons, and a primary STEM story. Wonderfully done. Back matter includes artwork on North American acorns, Arbor Day Fun Facts, and how readers can grow their own oaks from acorns. Endpapers are decorated with leaves and acorns, faded and pale against a light blue background. The Arbor Day Foundation has a kids corner with digital games and printable coloring sheetsPBS Cartoon Nature Cat has an Arbor Day episode, available with teacher materials, on the PBS website.

 

Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies, (Aug. 2020, Chronicle Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452176802

Ages 6-8

A girl discovers a love of butterflies, a desire for advocacy, and defines a place for herself in her new home in the U.S. Told in first person narration, a girl reads about butterflies as she learns English, and learns that butterflies, “make a long, long journey, just like we did. They have to be strong to fly so far”; as she becomes a more proficient English reader, she learns that the monarch butterfly population is faltering because of environmental impact: milkweed, the plant they eat and lay eggs on, is being decimated by climate change and by farmers who use chemicals to keep it from growing in fields. She gains the confidence to become an activist, motivating her classmates to take action and create a monarch way station that will create a safe space for monarch butterflies. The girl’s story runs parallel to the caterpillar to butterfly life cycle: she feels herself transforming into someone confident, strong, ready to take a stand. The story moves easily between the girl’s narrative and “book excerpts” that provie the nonfiction text and maps the girl reads, letting readers feel like they’re sharing the same book with the narrator. A quiet subplot about immigration makes itself known as the girl wonders if she belongs in her new life; these doubts diminish as she gains more confidence in herself through her activism. Endpapers illustrate a beautiful kaleidoscope of butterflies fluttering across the page. Back matter is written with children and adult readers in mind, including a guide to getting a monarch way station up and running, monarch facts, booklists for young environmental activists and grown-up activists and educators, and a rich list of Internet resources.

BookRiot has a nice list of butterfly books; I also recommend Caroline Arnold’s Butterflies in Room 6. and activism books like Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre, The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall, and Greta and the Giants: Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Stand to Save the World by Zoë Tucker are great display ideas. The Spruce Crafts has a list of 15 butterfly crafts that hit that grab-and-go budget sweet spot.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The title is the mood: If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here

If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here, by Simona Ciraolo, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536215304

Ages 3-7

A little boy loves summer, and what isn’t to enjoy? Swimming, ice cream, being warm, it’s awesome. His older sister tells him to make the most of it, though, because it doesn’t last. Summer’s going to end, and Fall will move in, bringing with it shorter and colder days. Winter will follow, and it’ll be dark all time time; rain will turn into snow, and you’ll be stuck on the sofa. And forget ice cream or swimming, you won’t even want to think of it! The boy isn’t thrilled about Winter muscling in and ruining his fun, but as the seasons change, he discovers that there’s something to love everywhere, from the changing colors of the leaves, to snuggly nights on the sofa, to belly-warming hot chocolate. Simona Ciraolo’s prose gives a wink and a nudge to her foreboding text with visions of family togetherness and wonder in the moment. Sentences are brief and easy to read, and make for a cuddly lapsit or preschool storytime. If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here is, on the one hand, a perfect statement for how many of us are feeling right now – I know we’re ankle-deep in slush here in NYC, for instance – as much as it is an urging to stop, reassess, and see the good in the moment.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Spotlight on small press and self-published books!

Beautiful, Wonderful, Strong Little Me!, by Hannah Carmona Dias/Illustrated by Dolly Georgieva-Gode, (Nov. 2019, Eifrig Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1632331694

Ages 4-7

A rhyming story that celebrates multicultural diversity, Beautiful, Wonderful, Strong Little Me! stars Lilly, a young girl with dark skin, curly hair, freckles and full lips. She’s strong, she’s smart, she’s funny, and she’s friendly – but she doesn’t look like her friends, and she’s tired of being asked where she’s from. She’s no puzzle to be solved! She tells her friends she’s proud of who she is, but what she looks like is only a small part of that: she’s courageous, funny, resilient, and kind. And that is perfect! The joyful rhyming text is filled with a sense of play, self-respect, and self-love. The artwork is cartoony and cheery, with a diverse group of friends playing together on each spread. An author’s note encourages readers to come up with adjectives for themselves, and provides a framed space for a self-portrait.

A fun readalike to books like Karen Beaumont’s I Like Myself! and Grace Byers’s I Am Enough.

 

 

Goldilocks and the Six Simple Machines, by Lois Wickstrom/Illustrated by Nicole Hehn, (Jan. 2020), $12.99, ISBN: 978-0916176457

Ages 4-7

Everyone knows the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but what would have happened if Goldilocks had come in and started fixing things up in the Bear home? If Goldilocks had poured the precise amount of milk into the porridge to cool things off; fixed a wobbly table leg and squeaky chair? Would the Bears still be angry? (I would; I mean, she broke into their house.) If the bears discovered a sleeping Goldilocks in their beds, how would they move her to wake her up and thank her for all the repairs? In this STEM take on the classic story, Lois Wickstrom’s Goldilocks uses six simple machines: wheel and axle, an inclined plane and wedge, a screw, lever, and pulley, to show how Goldilocks was able to make life a little easier for the bears. The Bear family is gracious and Goldilocks is sweetly helpful in this retelling. The font design is exaggerated to add a dimension of fun to the story, but they can distract. The artwork could use a little finesse, but overall, a fun book to read in STEM classes and for STEM storytimes.

There are some great fairytale STEM projects available online, and the Goldilocks story has given rise to several. There’s a lesson plan available from the Utah Education Network; Teach Beside Me has a fun STEM project, as does Momgineer. Teachers Pay Teachers has a cute STEM project, where kids can make a latch for the three bears’ door.

 

Daisy and Friends: Outside Our Window, by Barbara J. Meredith/Illustrations by Kalpart, (Oct. 2018, Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency), $11.50, ISBN: 9781949483574

Ages 3-6

The third in a series of books about a cat named Daisy and her three dog friends, Daisy and Friends: Outside Our Window is all about the changing seasons. Phrased like a rhyming game, Daisy and the dogs each start with the phrase, “Looking out our window, what do we see?” Answers reflect those flora, fauna, and weather that map to different seasons: Butterflies, hummingbirds, and bumblebees welcome the spring; squirrels and chipmunks gathering acorns and seeds give hints that fall is on the way. Short, rhyming sentences, consistent question and answer patterns, and plenty of sight words give burgeoning learners a lot to enjoy and see here! The digital artwork is playful, and the dialogue between Daisy and her dog friends makes for good readaloud material, especially if you have a volunteer who’s comfortable reading! There are four Daisy and Friends books available: Daisy and Friends: Waiting for the School Bus was published in August!

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

#SummersCool: Art and Architecture, Music, and Science

The latest edition of #SummersCool is here! Get ready for a full day of fun!

 

Build a Castle, by Paul Farrell, (April 2020, Pavilion Children’s Books), $19.99, IBN: 9781843654469

Ages 7+

Way too much fun, this box of 64 slotted cards let kids build castles with all the details: heraldry, arches, arrow-slit windows, flags, and more. Brightly colored in reds, blues, and yellows, with bold black outlines, kids can read up on different architectural features and get an idea of the basics from the included foldout sheet, and let their creative energy take them wherever they want to go. I worked on these with the Kiddo, and he ended up incorporating his Lego bricks and minifigs to come up with a fantastic spread that covered our dining room table. The box is just the beginning – print out some paper knights, draw some dragons, and have a great time!

Turn it Up! A Pitch-Perfect History of Music That Rocked the World, by Joel Levy, (Dec. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1426335419

Ages 8-12

From the earliest music to K-Pop, Turn It Up! is a comprehensive guide to the history of music and its influence on the world. Six sections organize music into time periods, beginning with the earliest instruments, including wind instruments played on crops, and string instruments handed down from the gods. Isn’t It Romantic? introduces readers to orchestras, operas, and Classical and Romantic music’s origins in the 18th ad 19th centuries. Thoroughly Modern Music explores the 20th century, and the changes to music brought by the emerging film and radio industries; All-American Sound is all about the American sound of Jazz and Blues, influenced by African culture. Play it Loud covers protest music, the British invasion that brought the Beatles to American shores, and the distinctive style of 1970s rock. Pop Goes the Music is about pop, punk, rap, and hip-hop. Spotlights on instruments, musical terms, superstars of the music world, and notes about essential pieces of music give readers a well-rounded backgrounder in music history. There’s a timeline, glossary, further resources list, and index to complete this volume. Let your kids create a Spotify playlist with music they like; create one for them.

 

Extreme Ocean: Amazing Animals, High-Tech Gear, Record-Breaking Depths, and Much More!, by Sylvia A. Earle and Glen Phelan, (March 2020, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426336850

Ages 8-12

I love NatGeo’s animal compendiums, and Kiddo does too – he usually runs off with mine as soon as they arrive! After retrieving Extreme Ocean from his bookcase, I was able to sit down and see what deep sea explorer Sylvia A. Earle had to say about some of her ocean explorations. Filled with colorful, vibrant photos, Extreme Ocean is all about the oceans that cover over 71% of our world: and the dangers they face. The information is organized into five chapters: Blue Heart of the Planet is about the ocean itself; Life Beneath the Waves is about ocean life; Going Deeper, Staying Longer covers exploration, and An Ocean in Trouble and How to Save an Ocean is a call to action for readers to educate themselves about dangers like pollution and overfishing, and what scientists and conservationists are doing – and what readers can do – to turn the tide in our favor. Extreme sections in each section look at major happenings, from tsunamis to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a polluted area of the Pacific Ocean that may measure as large as the state of Alaska. There are experiments for kids to try at home, and Who’s Who callout boxes bring readers’ attention to different ocean dwellers to discover. There’s a glossary, list of resources, and an index. A great companion to NatGeo’s Ultimate Oceanpedia and Captain Aquatica’s Awesome Ocean, and a book kids will love.

 

Acadia Files: Book Four, Spring Science, by Katie Coppens/Illustrated by Holly Hatam, (March 2020, Tilbury House Publishers), $13.95, ISBN: 978-0-88448-604-6

Ages 7-11

The fourth book in Acadia’s Science Notebook series is all about Spring! This season, Acadia investigates dinosaurs, meteors, and mass extinctions. She also looks at parasites, ticks, and the diseases they can spread, including Lyme disease and malaria. She also looks through her previous seasons’ notebooks and puts together her inquiries from all four of them, to give herself – and readers – a rounded, holistic understanding of the natural world. This is such a great intermediate STEM/STEAM series for kids; it’s part science, part chapter book, with a handwritten, journal feel throughout that should inspire some of your kiddos to start their own journaling. I fall back on this one quite often because it’s so easy. Kiddo and I used this as a guideline to make our own journal and had a great time wandering our neighborhood to fill it up. Enjoy a chapter read and activity in the video below.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Welcome to Bustletown!

All Around Bustletown is a series of oversize board books, originally published in Germany that introduces readers to a bustling little town where there’s so much to see! Let’s enjoy the four seasons as experienced by the citizens of Bustletown, several of whom we meet on the back cover of the book: Sadie, whose car won’t start in the cold; a motorcyclist who comes from far away; Petra, a bookworm who loves to read, and more.

All Around Bustletown: Winter, by Rotraut Susanne Berner, (Oct. 2019, Prestel Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7414-4

Ages 1-5

It’s winter in Bustletown! The trees are bare, the townsfolk are bundled up, and the day begins on a clear, cold morning. There are seven spreads we visit in our trek through the town: a cross section of a house with a busy street in front, where we can board a bus that will take us through the book; a country scene with a house in the background, a farmer’s market and garage/gas station in the foreground; a cross section of a shopping and transportation center; a busy town, where we notice ground being broken on a new kindergarten to come and a cultural center with a library, museum, and performance area; the center of town has shops and shoppers; a shopping mall with parking garage has a bunch of holiday shoppers making their purchases; and a petting zoo overlooks an iced over pond and cafe, where skaters practice and kids slide down a snowy hill.

It’s a series of fun winter scenes with so much to see. Readers can look for townsfolk introduced on the back cover, and there are so many details to spot! Follow the bus as it rides through each spread; count Christmas trees on each spread; follow a person wandering the town with a goose under their arm; will that lady in the yellow jacket catch up to the bus? Seek and find readers will enjoy this wordless book where they can create their own adventures.

 

All Around Bustletown: Spring, by Rotraut Susanne Berner, (Feb. 2020, Prestel Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7409-3

Ages 1-5

Spring comes to Bustletown with green landscapes and budding trees! A garbage truck trundles through the book and a fox shows up to stir up some excitement. The farmer’s market is open and the animals are out, enjoying the springtime. A class trip enjoys a trip to the museum and that new kindergarten is still under construction. There are some new residents to follow, like Officer Tony, who’s very busy; and Tom the Cat, who joins Bonnie on walks through town. Other characters return, like Anne, who gave up on trying to catch the bus and is going on a long hike. There’s always something to see in Bustletown. Work with your littles to identify colors (bright primary colors prominently feature in the artwork), everyday items like trees, trucks, or cats. Ask bigger littles what they notice in Bustletown that reminds them from home: shopping with Mom? Visiting a petting zoo or farm? Ask questions: what is that person doing, walking around with a goose? Where do you think the fox is going next?

 

All Around Bustletown: Summer, by Rotraut Susanne Berner, (Apr. 2020, Prestel Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7420-8

Ages 1-5

Summer comes to Bustletown! The greenery is thick and lush, and a new driver cruises along the spreads. It’s time to pick strawberries at the farm, and crows are eating the ripe cherries from the trees. The fish store has started selling sushi, there’s a new armor exhibit at the museum, there’s a sidewalk sale at the bookstore, and the kindergarten will open in October! For readers who go through the whole series, it’s fun to see how life moves forward as the books progress through the year. There’s a birthday in the park, a penguin balloon on the loose, and Tom the cat has a new mission: find a mouse. By introducing new characters and continuing to build on others, readers will enjoy visiting Bustletown and their friends, knowing there’s something new to find every time.

 

All Around Bustletown: Fall, by Rotraut Susanne Berner, (July 2020, Prestel Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7422-2

Ages 1-5

The last book in the All Around Bustletown series hits the U.S. this summer, with its townspeople getting ready for winter. A street sweeper trundles through the town, getting leaves under control, and George and Anne load a giant pumpkin into a wagon and head for the big pumpkin carving contest at the cultural center. The leaves are turning color and falling; there’s pumpkins everywhere, and fall colors dominate the scene: lighter greens, bright oranges, and reds decorate the pages. Geese fly south for the winter, and the new Kindergarten opens for a brand new school year! A lantern parade makes its way through the town square, heading for the park, and Halloween costumes show up in a store window. It’s a sweet conclusion to a year full of stories.

The Bustletown books are a very nice add to board book collections. Their large size makes it easy to fit loads of details in for readers to seek out, and the thick pages will stand up to repeated reads.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bear parents: Just like us! Hush up and Hibernate

Hush Up and Hibernate, by Sandra Markle/Illustrated by Howard McWilliam, (Aug. 2018, Persnickety Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943978366

Ages 3-7

Parents and caregivers will love this one as much as their kids. Mama Bear knows that winter’s coming, and it’s time to hibernate, but Baby Bear is just not ready to go to sleep yet, and can’t understand why he can’t stay up all winter. So he asks for something to eat. And then he has to have something to drink. And then the bed is too hard. And he hasn’t said goodbye to all the other animals in the forest! Mama Bear has finally had E-NOUGH, and tells him, in no uncertain terms, that it is time for hibernating. While Baby Bear finally beds down for the winter, he manages to have the hilarious, adorable, last word.

Sandra Markle is a nonfiction maven, and Hush Up and Hibernate shows that she’s got fiction chops, too. She creates a situation that every parent and child will recognize – that bedtime back-and-forth – and makes it sweet, funny, and absolutely relatable to nature, both wild and human. What parent hasn’t said, “Okay, I’m going, bye now…” to their child, who refuses to leave with them? (My mom did it to me, and I see parents saying it to their kids at the library. We wink at each other and smile.) What parent hasn’t heard “One more hug”, “I need a glass of water”, “I need to go to the bathroom”, and “I need to say goodnight to my 100 stuffed animals/everyone in the house/the moon and each planet”?

The artwork is bold and warm, with Mama and Baby Bear’s black fur standing out against the changing seasonal colors. Expressive, big eyes let readers know what’s on each bear’s mind, and Mama Bear’s expression at the end is utterly relatable. Absolute fun for bedtime and anytime. Add this one to your collections.