Posted in Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Make #science even cooler with Adventures in Science

My Kindergartener and I like to hang out and relax on the weekends, but I like to make sure that doing something fun doesn’t always involve endless hours of watching Minecraft videos on YouTube (his current obsession). Thankfully, I remembered that I received an Adventures in Science: Human Body kit from the kind folks at Silver Dolphin, so out it came. The first cheer came from me, when I realized that it’s a 6+ kit, not an 8 or 10+ kit, like most of them are: my kiddo could do this! The second cheer came from the kiddo, who saw a skeleton, because I’ve got that kid. (And I’m that mom.) We cracked open the box and went to it.

Adventures in Science: The Human Body, by Courtney Acampora, (Dec. 20017, Silver Dolphin Books), $21.99, ISBN: 978-1684121298

The box was full of stuff that would appeal to kids from ages 5(ish, my kiddo is going to be 6 in June) to about 10 or 11. There are two sheets of stickers; one sheet of bones, the other, of internal organs, including a set of “free play” stickers. The stickers go on a two-sided sheet with an outline of the human body; one side accommodates the organ stickers, one, the bones. There’s a separate bag for a snap-together skeleton model, playing card-sized flash cards about the body, and a booklet on the human body. Kiddo went to work on the sticker sheet, ASAP. The outlines are clear enough that he didn’t need my help at all! The only fiddly part came with the organ stickers, because so many overlap one another. We moved stuff around, covered some stuff up, and were pretty happy with the results.

 

I tried to read some of the flash cards to him as he was stickering, but realized that I was interested, but he was just sticking his little heart out, so I read them to myself and pointed out any cool stuff I came across. That worked for him.


 

Okay, next up, was the big guy: the skeleton. It’s a snap-together, and he got the skull, pelvis, and legs together pretty quickly. The really fiddly part came with the rib cage, spine, and arms. The rib cage is delicate, and the little spokes were giving us a hard time getting them in. We ultimately called in the big guns (Daddy), who made it work.

     

Overall, it was a fun hour spent with two cool hands-on crafts. He learned a couple of things, reinforced some facts he already knew, and ended up with a fun new skeleton to put in his room. I really like the flash cards and accompanying book, which gives a nice introduction to the human body for school-age kids; ideal for maybe around 7 or 8 years old. Younger kids will like the full-color pictures and graphics, and the book is loaded with fast fact Did You Know? boxes you can read to them. At $21.99, it’s a good gift for a curious kid. If you can get some fundraising money or program budget money together, this would be a great project for a small science group at your library; two or three kids can easily work together on one model and the posters. And they’d be pretty awesome to display.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads

Kisses for Kindergarten starts them off right

Kisses for Kindergarten, by Livingstone Crouse/Illustrated by  Macky Pamintuan, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-703-1

Recommended for readers 4-6

Stella Isabella Harden declares that she doesn’t have to go to kindergarten: her puppy told her so! A girl and her pup spend the days together, reimagining kindergarten by chasing squirrels, having fun on the swings, having tea parties, making pillow forts, and having pillow fights. Things change at storytime, though, when Stella realizes that she can’t read a storybook to her dog. Looks like it’s time for kindergarten after all!

With protagonists inspired by the artist’s daughter and golden retriever, Kisses for Kindergarten is a fun way to ease kids into a new school year. Kids will love Stella Isabella Harden’s assertion that she can learn far more from her puppy than she can from school, and the dynamic duo’s exciting day at the park. Caregivers can explain that she can learn so much from her dog, sure, but when it comes to reading, even her wise pup understands that she’s got to go to school. It’s a gentle easing of fears, and having her dog begin and end the day with her gives her something to look forward to. Ask kids what they want to come home to: a favorite toy? Storytime with family? Stella’s day ends with a family storytime and kisses: it’s a pretty good rule of thumb. Endpapers illustrate Stella and pup’s day together.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Scanorama Books lets kids take a deeper look at animals… and dinosaurs

When I was in my early 20s, and the first Jurassic Park movie hit theatres, one of the coolest books I ever saw was a 3-D X-ray book about dinosaurs. The red and blue glasses came tucked into a pocket on the cover, and you could look at dinos in 3-D AND put together a little dino model that came with the book. I was in my 20s, and needed this like I needed the wooden fossil statues I put together when I was a kid.

Thanks, Google Images! UK version of the dino mag I had.

Technology has improved quite a bit since those *cough cough* decades ago, and now, my to-be Kindergartener loves Silver Dolphin’s Scanorama series, which lets kids slide an “x-ray” panel across different animals, dinosaurs, and arachnids to view their skeletons, learn facts, and explore nature through infographics, color photographs, lift-the-flaps, and lists.

Scanorama: Dinosaurs, by Anna Claybourne/Illustrated by David Boumie, (Dec. 2016, Silver Dolphin), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-630-0
Recommended for readers 5-10

Scanorama: Deadly Predators, by Anna Claybourne/Illustrated by David Boumie, (Sept. 2016, Silver Dolphin), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-632-4
Recommended for readers 5-10

Scanorama: Amazing Animals, by Anna Claybourne/Illustrated by David Boumie, (Sept. 2016), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-631-7
Recommended for readers 5-10

Each book is a mix of color photos and illustrations and are loaded with facts. The books suggest a readership of ages 7+, but my 5 year-old loved exploring the books’ flaps, x-ray panels and pictures as I read to him. The books are constructed well, but will take a beating in a public library – this may be better for reference collections, classroom collections, or personal bookshelves.

The Scanorama series just consists of these three books so far, but I hope we’ll see more – they’re fun for young learners to explore.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Silver Dolphin loves hands-on learning

Silver Dolphin Books has some great novelty books for kids. I’ve loved their First Stories board books and their adorable Noisy Books. They were kind enough to send me two more sets of their developing novelty lines, the Busy Builders and Woodworks Nursery Rhyme series, and after a lot of playtime with  my 5 year old, I can safely say these are way too much fun!

The Woodworks Nursery Rhymes series has got to be my favorite. The cute little box has a magnetic flap, allowing kids to easily get to the small board book, play mat, and little wooden vehicle inside. The nursery rhymes: The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald Had a Farm – are adorably illustrated, and caregivers and kids can sing along while they drive their little tractors or school buses around the vinyl playmat.

This is what happens when you let a 5 year-old fold the playmat.

 

Talk about the path the school bus is taking, lead into a conversation about your child’s school bus, or, for pedestrians, the walk to school, as you play, introducing your little ones to the neighborhood around them. Farm play is great for the Old MacDonald playset! Point to the animals on the mat, make animal sounds, and add any animals to your playset as you go along. We introduced dinosaurs to our Old MacDonald playset, which may have upset the chickens a bit.

I want to pick up a few of these sets to add to my Story Hour reference. It will make for a great toddler storytime! The sets are sturdy, the wooden vehicles are well made, and the board books are small enough for little hands.

Next up are the Busy Builders series. I received the Construction Site, Airport, and Fire Station sets. Each box folds out into a playset and includes a 32-page book and model pieces to build roads, vehicles, equipment, and people to add to your playset.

The model pieces come together like puzzle pieces, allowing you to create 3-dimensional fire trucks, construction equipment, ground crew at the airport, and a radio tower, most with moving pieces. The dump truck will tip, for instance, and the fire truck ladder will lift. The book includes instructions in addition to facts about fire stations, construction sites, and the airport. The illustrations are very cute and there’s a lot of information available, in a readable and easily digestible format.

Some of the vehicles are a little fiddly to put together, and the stands for the people take a little time to get just right, but it’s worth it. My kiddo goes berserk for these playsets, and goes right to the book box where I stash them on a regular basis. He can’t put these together solo, so it makes for a nice playtime for us. Breakdown is easy, and I put all the pieces in gallon-size Ziploc bags before putting them back in the boxes, so we can avoid losing pieces and tears for the next time.

These aren’t for toddler hands – they’ll break these apart in no time – but are perfect fun for preschoolers to 2nd graders; they have more manual dexterity and, once they start reading, will enjoy reading the books over and over again. If you have a small library, you may consider these for a playtime collection, but they’d be eaten alive in my library; these are a good gift idea for me!

Old McDonald Had a Farm, Illustratrated by Elliot Kreloff, (Silver Dolphin), $13.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-955-4
Format: Kit
Pages: 16 pp.
Trim: 6.25 x 8.25
Art: Full Color
Category: Nursery Rhymes
Age Range: 0 to 3

The Wheels on the Bus, Illustrated by Elliot Kreloff, (Silver Dolphin), $13.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-956-1
Format: Kit
Pages: 16 pp.
Trim: 6.25 x 8.25
Art: Full Color
Category: Nursery Rhymes
Age Range: 0 to 3

Busy Builders: Construction Site, by Katherine Sully/Illustrated by: Carles Ballesteros (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-564-8
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Busy Builders: Airport, by Timothy Knapman/Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros, (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-563-1
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Busy Builders: Fire Station, by Chris Oxlade/Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros, (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-565-5
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gareth Lucas Noisy Books are too much fun!

Gareth Lucas Noisy Books are fun board books that feature different sounds on each spread. No more worrying about the sounds being off from the spread when your little ones press the page 10 times on the first spread! (I can’t be the only one who sweated that, can I?)

Dinos on Deck!, by Gareth Lucas, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-938-7

All aboard the Jurassic Jewel for a dino-riffic adventure! Each spread boasts roars, squawks, splish-splashes, digging, creaks, and a hoo-ray as the dinos set sail in search of a tasty treasure. The dinos are cartoony and fun, the sounds have a good volume and are clear, and toddlers and preschoolers alike will love reading this one again and again. My own kindergartener-to-be won’t let this one out of his room: I’m writing this while he’s at camp. Shhh.

 

Dig, Dig, Digger!, by Gareth Lucas, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-936-3

A construction crew of friendly animals build a playground! They’ve got diggers and cranes, bulldozers and cement, and there are plenty of beeps, crashes, and bangs for kids to enjoy as they follow the builders to the playground. The art is cartoony and fun, and each sound – as with the Dino book – is easy to spot, set off with a bold, fun font and blue design on each spread.

Both books are sturdy and should hold up to multiple readings. There’s battery information on the back of each book, so parents (and librarians) can stock up and extend the life of the books. Each adds its own fun to storytime, whether you read them together for a fun, noisy storytime or separately, to enhance a construction storytime (a nice fit with Summer Reading’s Build a Better World theme), a pirate storytime, or dino storytime.

The Noisy Books are adorable and fun, and little ones will get a kick out of them. I love introducing books with unexpected moments, like lift the flap, pop-ups, and sounds, in toddler storytimes; it adds a sense of excitement for the kids, and their expressions make storytime even more rewarding. Try one in your next circle time!

Posted in Toddler Reads

First Stories bring toddlers into fairy tale fun!

Author Dan Taylor and publisher Silver Dolphin Books have debuted the cutest interactive board books to introduce toddlers to some of the most popular, beloved fairy tales:

Beauty and the Beast, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626868977

Belle the Beauty becomes the Beast’s “guest” in place of her father, where she eventually sees past his beastly exterior (see what I did there?), he throws her a lovely feast, and they fall in love, breaking the curse and letting him because a handsome prince again.

 

Cinderella, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626868984

Cinderella is treated horribly by her horrible stepsisters, but her Fairy Godmother steps in and declares that she shall go to the ball! She runs off at the stroke of midnight and forgets her shoe, but the handsome prince tracks her down. Try as her stepsisters might, they can’t get the shoe on, but it’s a perfect fit for Cinderella!

 

Rapunzel, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626869004

A handsome prince sees poor Rapunzel trapped in a tower by a mean old witch who uses Rapunzel’s hair to get up and down the walls. When the prince tries to climb up to meet her, the witch snips Rapunzel’s hair, sending him flying over the edge! It’s okay, though – Rapunzel and the prince get their happily ever after at the end

Each book is only about 10 pages (and that includes front and back covers), and the pages are sturdy – they’ll hold up to multiple readings, which is a good thing, because each page has something fun for little hands to explore: slide Cinderella away to her pumpkin coach before midnight, scroll through the delightful food offerings Beast offers Beauty at dinner time, or help the prince and Rapunzel reunite at the end of the story! The art is very sweet and bright. The books are loaded with fun things to do and see, a perfect introduction to fairy tales for storytime for boys and girls alike.