Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

#HomesCool Pop Up Books for Little Learners

Twirl Books is releasing incredible new books for little learners. I was thrilled to receive a big box of their new and upcoming books, and I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far. This post looks at two pop-up nonfiction titles for preschoolers that are going to love. Make space in your easy nonfiction and board book libraries: Twirl is taking over.

The Pop-Up Guide: Space, by Sophie Dussaussois/Illustrated by Charline Picard, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791036325199

Ages 3-5

A pop-up guide to space is just what the budding astronomer ordered! Ten spreads open up to reveal 3-D starscapes, our solar system, the lunar landing, the International Space Station, and more. Brief paragraphs provide a factual overview of each spread, and pictures are labeled to increase readers’ science vocabulary, with terms and proper nouns including “observatory”, “centrifuge”, “Buzz Aldrin”, and “Curiosity rover”. Illustrations are colorful and informative, with detail to engage readers. The pages are sturdy, but you’ll want to buy a copy to keep in reference to be on the safe side. Elastic bands on the corners of the front cover make for a nice hands-free reading experience, letting kids examine every inch of the illustrations on each spread. I can’t wait to see what other Pop-Up Guides Twirl has planned!

 

Ultimate Spotlight: Rain Forest Animals, by Sandra Laboucarie/Illustrated by Émilie Lapeyre, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791027608775

Ages 4-7

The Ultimate Spotlight series from Twirl is also has pop-up panels, but adds other interactive features like lift-the-flaps, movable tabs, and turn-the-wheel. Five spreads take readers through a rain forest, where they can see a 3-D representation of the layered forest, from ground up through emergent layer; play hide and seek with camouflaged denizens of the forest; meet animal families; discover gliding animals and see how they move, and explore a foldout visualizing of the rain forest by day and at night. Animals are clearly labeled and brief, factual sentences provide exciting new facts for animal fans. Pages will hold up to a lot of reading, but I’d consider a backup copy if your budget allows. I’d also reinforce the spines of both books with library tape if you have it; these are going to be heavily circulated. Illustrations are colorful, with the vibrant colors of the rain forests and its citizens nicely represented. Kids are going to love this and the other books in the Ultimate Spotlight series: Savanna Animals, Dinosaurs, Firefighters, Trains, and Astronauts.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Stella’s Stellar Hair is out of this world!

Stella’s Stellar Hair, by Yesenia Moises, (Jan. 2021, Imprint), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250261779

Ages 4-8

Stella is a little girl with a fabulous head of hair! She wakes up on the morning of the Big Star Little Gala, though, and her hair is just not doing what she wants it to – so her mother sends her off across the solar system to get some hair advice from her aunties on all the different planets, and the sun! Every auntie has their own gorgeous style: twists, braids, buns, all beautiful, but not quite what Stella has in mind. Sun-dwelling Auntie Solana has the best advice of all: “there’s really no such thing as hair not acting right – your hair just wants to be a little more fun today. / And that’s okay. / You don’t have to change a thing. / Just be yourself”. A wonderful celebration of loving oneself, Stella’s Stellar Hair is the definition of Black Joy and Black Girl Magic. The story celebrates the different styles of Black hair, using the back matter to describe the type of atmosphere on each planet and how each hairstyle would be best adapted to it.

Can I have a moment to gush about the vibrant colors? The cartoon artwork is adorable, and the deep colors are just a wonder to look at. The blues and purples that run through most of the book are incredible, and then bright yellows come in to add a glow to the pages, and come together to create a reading experience that kids will return to often. I love this book.

Stella’s Stellar Hair has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blast off on the Sadie Sprocket Blog Tour!

Let’s hear it for Science Kids! I’ve got a rhyming STEM/STEAM story that’s going to rock(et) storytimes!

Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket, by Sue Fleiss/Illustrated by Annabel Tempest,
(Feb. 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542018036
Ages 4-6

Sadie Sprocket is a little girl with a big wish: she wants to go to Mars! She maps out the distance, puts together a crew of her most trustworthy stuffed toys, and gets to work building a rocket. They blast off from Earth and arrive at Mars, where they take pictures and gather samples, but when it’s time to head back to Earth, there’s a problem: can Sadie get herself and her friends back home? Lively rhyme and adorably bright and friendly, cartoony artwork make this an eye-catching readaloud. Sadie is a smart cookie who knows how to plan a mission and lay out the problem in order to solve it – just like our Kiddos learn at school. Facts about Mars and women in space make up the back matter, and make this a phenomenal choice for Women’s History Month in March, too. Pair with Andrea Beaty’s Questioneers series, Sol Regwan’s Geraldine series, and Ken Wilson Max’s Astro Girl. Consider adding some Mars picture books, like Brianna Caplan Sayres’s Night Night Curiosity,  or Buzz Aldrin’s Welcome to Mars for Kids. Remind kids that nothing is out of reach by inviting them to create coffee filter planets after reading.

“Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.” —Kirkus Reviews

Sue Fliess is the author of more than thirty children’s books, including Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins, illustrated by Mark Chambers; Shoes for Me!A Dress for Me!, and Books for Me!, all illustrated by Mike Laughead; and Let’s Build, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto. She lives with her family and their two dogs in northern Virginia, where they admire the moon, stars, and sometimes even planets from their backyard. Learn more about Sue at www.suefliess.com.

On Twitter: @SueFliess 

Facebook: Sue Fliess Author 

Pinterest: Sue Fliess

Annabel Tempest is the illustrator of a number of picture books and board books. She holds a degree in fashion and textiles and has worked as a freelance illustrator on everything from maps and packaging to greeting cards and children’s books. She lives in the beautiful Somerset countryside in the UK with her husband and a houseful of muddy boys and dogs. Learn more about Annabel at www.annabeltempest.com.

On Instagram: annabel.tempest

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

Space Books take readers to new heights

Rocket Science: A Beginner’s Guide to the Fundamentals of Spaceflight, by Andrew Rader, PhD./Illustrated by Galen Frazer, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536207422

Ages 10-13

This beginner’s guide to spaceflight is concise, comprehensive, and illustrated in full-color. Andrew Rader is an actual rocket scientist and a SpaceX Mission Manager, and he makes space travel so tempting, you’ll want to get in touch with Elon Musk and secure your spots now. Readers will learn the basics to start: gravity, the solar system, and how we can push through gravity to reach the Moon. That leads in to a discussion on rockets: how they work, the staging series, and how to use rockets to communicate, navigate, and travel. There is information on interplanetary travel, possible life in the universe beyond our planet, and a word about the future of space exploration. Digital illustrations are colorful and detailed. A glossary and list of web resources are available. A spread on spacecraft and the solar system details some of the more well-known spacecraft, in relation to layout of the planets, like the Hubble, International Space Station, Curiosity, and Cassini. A nice intro to rocket science without throwing calculus into the mix, this is a great intro to whet younger readers’ appetitles for space travel.

 

 

Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond (2nd Edition), by David Aguilar & Patricia Daniels, (Nov. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 9781426338564

Ages 8-12

This is the updated version of the 2013 Space Encyclopedia, and there has been a lot to update! The 2020 version includes updated photos, facts, and profiles on the latest in space exploration, including the first ever image of a black hole, newly discovered dwarf planets, the possibility of life beyond Earth, and the formation of the universe. Profiles on icons in the field include Stephen Hawking, Einstein, and Galileo. It’s a beautiful desk reference, loaded with full color photos and artwork beyond the facts. My Kiddo used this as a reference tool for his report on space and he was beyond excited at how much he was able to use from this source.

 

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

Holiday Goodies: Gift book shopping guide!

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday break! If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful and safe holiday. And now, the shopping season heats up, so let’s get another gift guide together. This one is all about the gift books, and remember: today is Small Business Saturday, so if you’re able to, please support a local business!

 

Anatomicum (Welcome to the Museum), by Jennifer Z. Paxton/Illustrated by Katy Wiedemann, (Sept. 2020, Big Picture Press), $35, ISBN: 9781536215069

Ages 8-13

The Welcome to the Museum series is a great nonfiction series that lets readers recreate a museum in their own homes. Every museum wing you can imagine has a book: Dinosaurs, Animals, History, and so many more; many of the books have companion workbooks. The latest book, Anatomicum, dives  into the inner workings of the human body: how our cardiovascular systems and respiratory systems work, how facial muscles contribute to facial expressions, the development of a baby in the reproductive system, and how our immune and lymphatic systems help fight disease are just a few areas readers will explore. Katy Wiedemann’s scientific drawings in 2-color sepia-tones are detailed and Jennifer Z. Paxton’s accompanying text provides factual explanations and overviews on each area. Think of this as a Grey’s Anatomy for younger readers; artists and budding biologists and medical professionals alike will love this.

 

One of a Kind: A Story About Sorting and Counting, by Neil Packer, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Studio), $22.99, ISBN: 9781536211214

Ages 7-10

A story wrapped within a book on classification, this is an excellent introduction to scientific classification and organization for kids. Readers meet a boy named Arvo, and get a look at his family tree. They meet his cat, Malcolm, and see his family tree, too. As Arvo moves through his day, readers discover how many ways there are to classify and organize information: as he learns to play the violin, we see where it fits into a grouping of musical instruments; when he needs to fix his bicycle’s tire, we get a look at different types of tools. Arvo visits the library, where the books are laid out by subject: can I get a print of this for my library? Back matter describes the classifications discussed throughout the story, and the mixed media art is interesting; each piece looks like a museum piece. What a great next step for sorting and classifying for kids!

The Language of the Universe, by Colin Stuart/Illustrated by Ximo Abadía, (Oct. 2020, Big Picture Press), $24.99, ISBN: 9781536215052

Ages 8-12

A visually stunning of the intersection of math and science, The Language of the Universe examines the history and application of math in the natural world. Discover the Fibonacci sequence in a sunflower and investigate the atom patterns in the periodic table; lift with levers and use math to encrypt messages. The text is easy to understand and lends itself to fun new projects for readers to think up. The art is colorful and there’s always something exciting to look at. Another great addition to shelves for young scientists and artists everywhere.

 

 

Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond, by David A. Aguilar, (Nov. 2020, National Geographic), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426338564

Ages 8-12

The latest update of NatGeo Kid’s Space Encyclopedia is out just in time for the holidays! The latest updates on our universe, all accompanied by breathtaking, full-color photographs, wait for readers in these pages. Sections on the stars, a tour of the solar system, life on other planets, and our future inclue Amazing Space! Milestone timelines, fun facts, and easy-to-read quick data bursts throughout. Spotlights on key figures in space exploration include Galileo Galilei, Albert Einstein, and Copernicus. The book is indexed and includes resources for additional reading and websites. A great gift idea for your budding astronomers and astrophycisists.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Science Fiction

Books from Quarantine: Secret Explorers and the Comet Collision

The Secret Explorers and the Comet Collision, by SJ King, (July 2020, DK), $5.99, ISBN: 978-0744021066

Ages 7-10

This is the second book in an upcoming new series from DK; the first, The Secret Explorers and the Lost Whales, also publishes on July 7, 2020. Perfect reading for kids who loved Little Einsteins, Octonauts, or Wild Kratts when they were younger, these chapter books introduce a group of Secret Explorers – kids who specialize in different areas of the sciences – who go on secret missions to gather knowledge and solve a big problem. In Comet Collision, two explorers, Roshni and Ollie, have to work together when they’re sent into space to fix a broken space probe by the planet Jupiter. A comet is set to collide with the planet and will wipe out all the probe’s important data if they don’t fix it in time, so they have to work together and work fast!

Loaded with adventure, facts, and fast-paced reading, this is a fun new STEM-based series for readers. You don’t need to read the first book to enjoy this one (I picked this up at ALA Midwinter, and thought it was the first in the series until I finished it and saw the “2” on the spine). The kids play with cool technology, are specialists in different areas of science, and take readers to space and beyond. This will be a good series to fit with the Imagine Your Story Summer Reading theme this year, too – ask your readers to think of their favorite type of science (or give them one to explore) and ask them to imagine their story as a scientist in space, in a rain forest, in a lab, anywhere. Black and white cartoony artwork throughout helps place readers on a spacewalk and at the controls of a spaceship. The cast of characters is multicultural, from all over the world.

Invite kids to learn more about space probes from NASA, and about Jupiter and the other planets here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reach for the Stars with Astro-Girl

Astro Girl, by Ken Wilson-Max, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209464

Ages 4-8

Astrid is a little girl who loves the stars and space.  She and her father act out the challenges that astronauts face in outer space, as they wait to meet Astrid’s mom, who’s coming home from a business trip… of sorts. He swings her around and around like a spaceship orbiting Earth and tosses her up in the air, defying gravity like an astronaut; she eats a cereal bar in place of astronaut food in a tube and conducts her own “experiments” by making rocket ship cookies.

I love Ken Wilson-Max’s bold, bright acrylic artwork, and Astro Girl has plenty of it. Boldly outlined, with bright, bold colors, Astro Girl is as wonderful to look at as it is to read. The story of a family of color is a great STEAM story, too: Astrid’s mom is an astronaut, and Astrid means to follow in her footsteps. Back matter includes the origin of the word “astronaut”, and brief profiles on five women who have gone into space, just like Astrid’s mom. Endpapers show a midnight blue sky, sprinkled with stars, giving kids the same desire to reach for the stars that Astrid is imbued with. The warm colors and bold outlines make this a warm book that draws readers close and talks to them, like Astrid has a secret to share with each reader.

I can’t get enough of Astro Girl, and I guarantee your readers won’t, either. The cover features Astrid, in her bright orange jumpsuit and astronaut helmet – accompanied by her dog – is a striking sight that will grab everyone’s attention. My son asked me if this was a Mae Jemison book when he saw it! Use this as an opportunity to get Mae Jemison’s name, and the names of other astronauts. You can start with the most recent all-female spacewalk:

 

Astro Girl is a must-have for your storytimes, and your STEM/STEAM shelves.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Join the Red Rover as it wanders Mars

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars, by Richard Ho/Illustrated by Katherine Roy, (Oct. 2019, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-250-19833-4

Ages 4-7

I am in love with this sweet, factual story about the Curiosity Rover, the robotic rover currently exploring Mars after landing in the Gale Crater in August, 2012. The story is straightforward, yet gives life to the Curiosity by referring to it as the “little rover” and wondering about its habits. Is it looking for water because it’s thirsty? It may seem lonely, but it has friends that came before. The narrator is the planet Mars, who seems to be watching Curiosity and its predecessors with interest. Mars states, “They call me Mars. I am not like your world”, and notes that life is hard for Curiosity: there are sand storms; the air is thin and it’s cold; it’s very, very, red. Through it all, artwork depicts the scrappy Curiosity rover, undeterred from its mission: it collects, its observes, it records. Back matter includes an annotated sketch of the Curiosity; facts about Mars, and brief profiles of the previous orbiters, landers, and rovers that have explored the planet (and that are in progress). There’s a bibliography and websites for further reading.

The story gives the Curiosity a personality of sorts, and the artwork presents a breathtaking artist’s rendering of the Red Planet. The sandstorms are chaotic, and a foldout of the red landscape is just stunning: the Curiosity stands on a cliff, overlooking the barren, beautiful world. Red Rover is a nice introduction for younger readers to the world of space exploration. If you have Wall-E fans, introduce them to Red Rover.

If you have readers who want more on Mars, Kiddle has Curiosity Facts for Kids; NASA’s Space Place has the Mars rovers broken out into trading cards with stats; and NASA’s FunZone has coloring sheets.

Posted in picture books

Saying Farewell to Summer Reading with How to Be on The Moon

How to Be on the Moon, by Viviane Schwarz, (June 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536205459

Ages 4-7

A little girl and her best crocodile friend decide to go to the moon. They ready their math skills, practice having patience, and pack travel games and sandwiches, then take off for a jaunt on the moon.

This is the second Anna and Crocodile adventure from Viviane Schwarz (the first, How to Find Gold, was published in 2016), and it is a celebration of friendship and imagination. The illustrations are pencil, crayon, and watercolor, giving the scenery different textures; it’s like taking a peek into an imaginary landscape. The moonscape is amazing, and looks like aluminum foil (more on that in a minute) against a colorful rocketship and blue-black spacescape. The book is upbeat, with an overall sense of playful fun, that makes this a book I’ll return to again and again at storytime and science time.

Speaking of science time, I’m finishing up my summer reading programs this week, and will be reading How to Be on the Moon when the kids and I make aluminum foil moons. It’s a simple enough craft that I can open it up to all ages, and I think it will be a fun way to bid summer reading goodbye for another year.

Author/illustrator Viviane Schwarz has fun, free downloadables and activities on her author webpage. Check them out!

I look forward to seeing where Anna and Crocodile go on their next trek!

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Three great books about space!

The Summer Reading theme for this year is all about Space, and I am psyched. I love outer space, and I’ve got a growing list of books to add to my own readers advisory lists (I’ll put that together in the next week or two for a post). Meanwhile, Sourcebooks and Barefoot Books have three great books about space that are staggered throughout the year, and perfect for your space-faring STEM fans. Let’s check them out, shall we?

 

Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, by Susanna Leonard Hill/Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, (June 2019, Sourcebooks Wonderland), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492656807

Ages 4-8

The Moon was so lonely, up in the night sky by herself. When she sees life developing on Earth, she patiently waits for someone to notice and visit her. It takes a while: the dinosaurs don’t notice; early people build pyramids and structures that just aren’t high enough. Eventually, though, she gets some visitors, and she is thrilled! She gives them presents of rocks and dust to take back to Earth, and they give her a beautiful flag and a plaque. Now, Moon is in the sky, happy and waiting for more visitors. Will you be her next guest?

This is the sweetest story I’ve read yet on the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. The Moon is illustrated as a softly shining, opalescent sphere with kind eyes, rosy cheeks, and a sweet smile; readers are treated to a quick history of Earth’s development as the Moon quietly observes, waiting for a friend to reach out – or up – and say hello. She even dances around the planet, showing off her phases! The actual Apollo mission takes up a brief part of the story, making this sweet book about a lonely satellite who just wants a friend an adorable storytime read for younger kids, and a fun book with solid facts for school-age kids. There’s a brief bibliography on the verso page, and back matter includes several pages dedicated to Mission Moon, the Apollo 11 voyage; moon facts, and moon phases, along with a running timeline of Earth’s formation and development. Endpapers are starry nights, where kids can imagine sailing through the stars to visit their favorite moon. Readers can also scan a QR code to hear Neil Armstrong’s historic first words from the 1969 moon landing. Gentle storytelling and adorable illustration make this a great Summer Reading addition! Display and booktalk with Stacey McAnulty’s Moon, Earth, and Sun trilogy.

 

There Was a Black Hole That Swallowed the Universe, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Susan Batori, (Sept. 2019, Sourcebooks Explore), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492680772

Ages 3-8

You know if Chris Ferrie is writing a book, I’m reading it. This STEM-errific take on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is about a giant black hole that swallows… well, everything. He starts with a universe… it couldn’t get worse! But oh, it does: the black hole swallows planets, stars, galaxies, and atoms, molecules, and quarks along with it. Yikes!

I read this to my first grader this morning and he immediately smiled and said, “This is like The Old Lady story!”, so kids familiar with the classic tale (and all of its spin-offs) will immediately jump in and know what’s coming; how the story will progress. With each chomping, the black hole gets bigger, and the planets and heavenly bodies look hilariously terrified as they try to get away from its maw. The storytelling is fun and loaded with humor; it’s cumulative and rhyming storytelling at its scientific funniest. The illustrations are goofy, with exaggerated facial expressions that make the storytelling more dramatic and humorous as you go. Bone up on your keyword knowledge for kids who will ask during the story (neutrons, atoms, quarks, oh my!). Scientific terms are highlighted in bold yellow, and capitalized to stand out and give your readers a nice working STEM vocabulary. Shine a blacklight on the pages from back to front, and you’ll reveal a super-cool, hidden history of the universe’s creation!

Absolute fun and a must-get for your storytime collections. Be a rock star at Science Storytime! Pair this with The Universe Ate My Homework by David Zelster for more black hole-related fun.

 

Barefoot Books Solar System, by Anne Jankéliowitch/Illustrated by Annabelle Buxton, Translated by Lisa Rosinsky, $19.99, ISBN: 9781782858232

Ages 8-12

Riding high on the post-Summer Reading wave, middle grade kids can go back school and check out Barefoot Books Solar System, a glow-in-the-dark, interactive guide to our Milky Way, complete with lift the flap booklets, a pull-out map, and beautiful artwork. Originally published in French, the book has been reviewed, edited, and updated by Dr. Carie Cardamone, professor of STEM education and Boston Museum of Science teacher and educator. The text is written with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor while delivering solid nonfiction goods to middle graders. The book covers each planet, with nicknames like :Saturn: The Space Diva”, and “Uranus and Neptune: The Icy Sisters”; the asteroid belt; differences between solid and gas planets; measuring the universe, and famous outer space voyages. The artwork is bright and bold, seeming to explode off the black pages to grab the reader’s attention.

In keeping with Barefoot’s mission of diversity and inclusivity, there is information about space exploration from around the world, making this a truly global effort. Back matter includes a comprehensive glossary of scientific terms and a note on the units of measurement used in the book. Don’t pass this one up; your 520s will shine a little brighter with Barefoot Books Solar System on your shelf.