Mom Read It

If the kids are reading it, chances are I have, too.

Something’s Fishy introduces kids to fishy fun February 24, 2017

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.

 

 

Black History Month: The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson February 14, 2017

youngest-marcherThe Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, by Cynthia Levinson/illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, (Jan. 2017, Atheneum Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481400701

Recommended for ages 5-10

In May 1963, children in Birmingham, Alabama, trained in peaceful, civil disobedience, marched to protest segregation. Nine year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest marcher, fully invested in civil rights and aware that she would likely go to jail. She spent a week in juvenile hall with flimsy blankets and no toothbrush, but she persevered and made history. Nonfiction author Cynthia Levinson tells the story of the youngest marcher, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton, here for younger audiences, assuring children that no one is too small, too young, to make a difference in the world.

I’ve been handing this book to kids coming in, looking for African-American biographies for their Black History Month reports for just this reason. I want children to see that they are important. They count. At a time when many feel marginalized, books like The Youngest Marcher, with its powerful words and images, offer representation and affirmation. Children have a voice, and with support and encouragement, they can use them and be heard.

Cynthia Levinson’s author website offers links to further resources, including curriculum guides and videos. Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton was spotlighted by the WeNeedDiverseBooks initiative, for which she also created original artwork. For more information about the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, visit Biography.com or the Zinn Education Project, offering information about the award-winning documentary, Mighty Times.

 

 

Holiday Shopping: Nature December 12, 2016

First tech, now nature. This latest round of holiday gift ideas looks at science and nature books. These are perfect for the kid who loves to be outdoors and wants to know more about our world and the animals he or she shares it with.

underwater_2Under Earth, Under Water, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, (Oct. 2016, Candlewick Press), $35.00, ISBN: 978-0-7636-8922-3

Recommended for ages 7-12

This book is stunning. It’s two books in one, each examining our worlds just below the surface: water and earth. The illustrations are amazing, and kids will flip as they see the inside of an anthill, take a look at an archaeological dig, check out a history of submarines, or tag along for a tour of the Mariana Trench. I can’t get enough of this book, and kids who love natural science won’t, either. Check out this spread on a Dreadnoughtus schrani!

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aliens-from-earthAliens From Earth: When Animals and Plants Invade Other Ecosystems, by Mary Batten/Illustrated by Beverly J. Doyle, (March 2016, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-56145-900-1

Recommended for ages 9-12

Aliens From Earth takes a fascinating look at what happens when animals or plants invade a new habitat, upsetting an ecosystem’s balance. Fire ants, gypsy moths, even the cute little starlings that I see every morning when I head to work are all in here. Introducing an invasive species into an ecosystem unprepared for it can be responsible for the spread of disease, loss of habitat for current inhabitants, and reduction of natural resources for an area. This volume is beautifully illustrated by artist Beverly J. Doyle, whose acrylic paintings make me feel like I’m walking through a museum exhibit as I read. Previously published in 2006, Aliens from Earth is an Izaak Walton League of American Conservation Book of the Year. Give this to kids who are interested in environmentalism, preservation, and conservation.

 

oceanpediaUltimate Oceanpedia, by Christina Wilsdon, (Nov. 2016, National Geographic Children’s Books), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426325502

Recommended for ages 7-13

Know a kid who would live in the aquarium if she or he could? Fascinated by fish, crazy for sea turtles, smart about sharks? The Ultimate Oceanpedia is the book for them. Stunning photos accompany entries on earth’s oceans, sea life, exploration, weather, the coast, and conservation of our underwater habitats and saving sea life. There are fast facts, stats, food webs, and maps galore. Sections on climate change and offshore drilling take on today’s big issues and present the facts without bias, letting readers form their own opinions. A call to action provides simple ways kids can help make the world a better, cleaner, healthier place to live. A glossary and in-depth resources encourage kids to keep learning and changing the world around them for the better.

These books are all available right now and are dying to go home with you! Shop your local bookseller, or click on over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, or Indie Bound to buy.

 

Extreme Wildfire takes kids to the front lines of fire fighting! October 31, 2016

extreme_wildfire_coverExtreme Wildfire: Smoke Jumpers, High-Tech Gear, Survival Tactics, and the Extraordinary Science of Fire, by Mark Thiessen, (Aug. 2016, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426325304

Recommended for ages 8-12

It can go from a spark to a flame in almost no time. It can devour homes and forests alike, leaving destruction and devastation in its path. NatGeo Kids brings readers to the front lines of wildfires, and the people – largely volunteers – who fight them, in Extreme Wildfire.  Author Mark Thiessen is a NatGeo photographer and certified wildland firefighter has photographed countless fires over the last 20 years; Extreme Wildfire represents part of a lifelong project: to create a visual record of what these firefighters do.

Extreme Wildfire discusses the science behind wildfire; how firefighters battle the flames and how lookouts spot potential fires on the horizon; the equipment used in combating fire, the devastation – and nature’s adaptation – that fire leaves in its wake, and how communities come together to help one another. Chock full of facts and call-out boxes with more information, plus an emphasis on fire safety and prevention to finish up the book, this a good addition to nonfiction collections. There’s a glossary, list of resources, and index.

The kids in one of my library’s neighborhood schools have a unit on natural disasters every year. I’ve ordered two copies of this book – my Corona Kids know how much I love NatGeo books – to have available for them when the time comes around this year. It’s also a good book to have on display if you have fire safety talks. There are some good fire safety and education resources online, including Science for Kids Club and The Kids Should See This.

extreme_wildfire_14-151Photo courtesy of Chat With Vera.

 

 

Great desk reference for kids: Time for Kids 2017 Almanac October 8, 2016

tfkTime for Kids 2017 Almanac, by the Editors of Time for Kids, (May 2016, Time for Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1618934154

Recommended for ages 8-12

The latest TFK Almanac presents facts, news, current events, and information, curated from previous issues of Time for Kids magazine in one fun, interactive volume that’s a great desk reference for middle graders. The almanac covers the following subject areas: A Look Back (covering the previous years’ current events); Animals; Arts; Body and Health; Books; Calendars and Holidays; Computers and Games; Countries; Energy and the Environment; Entertainment; Geography; History; Inventions and Technology; Science; Space; Sports, and The United States. There are over 600 photos, quizzes and activities at the end of each section, and maps and timelines throughout the book. Kids will get a kick out of the year’s entertainment and world events wrap up and benefit from reference resources like the breakdowns of the world’s countries, which includes literacy rates, languages, currencies, and capitals; a breakdown of the branches of our government, listing of the states and Presidents, and walkthrough of the scientific method.

This is one of those references that deserves space on students’ desks, right next to their dictionary and thesaurus. It’s a big homework help, with a little extra fun to keep things interesting. I’ll keep one copy in Reference and one or two on the shelves here at the library.

 

Science Comics explores Volcanoes September 30, 2016

volcanoesScience Comics: Volcanoes-Fire and Life, by Jon Chad, (Oct. 2016, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626723603

Recommended for ages 8-12

Earlier this year, we got a look at First Second’s two Science Comics, Coral Reefs and Dinosaurs. There’s great science and fun art wrapped up in each of these comics, so I was super-psyched when I met a First Second rep at the PLA Conference this year, and she told me that there were more Science Comics coming. True to her word, we’re getting Volcanoes in just a couple of weeks.

Similar to Coral Reefs, Volcanoes wraps information about volcanic activity into a story: there’s been some sort of environmental cataclysm, and Earth is freezing. A tribe is scanning books when Aurora, one of the kids, discovers a book about volcanoes; she is HOOKED. She’s saved her tribe! The power to warm the planet is right underneath their feet!

From there, Aurora becomes the reader’s guide through a look into the activity bubbling under the earth’s crust: there are magma vents, shifting tectonic plates, and volcanic eruptions. Volcanoes create just as much as they destroy: there are entire land masses that owe their existence to a volcanic eruption, just as there are entire cities that have been wiped out by them.

 

Tales from the Backlist: Christy Hale’s Dreaming Up September 28, 2016

dreamingup_1Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, by Christy Hale, (2012, Lee & Low Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781600606519

Recommended for ages 5-10

When I started at my current library last year, the younger kids were in the middle of a school project on architecture. I was able to give them books like the most current picture book retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, Block City and Byron Barton’s Building a House, but after I exhausted the fiction section, I was stumped. Luckily, a quick tour of my nonfiction section brought me to Christy Hale’s beautiful book, Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building.

Dreaming Up combines illustrations of multiethnic children at work on their own constructions, with rhyming text building and swirling in construction of its own, and pairs each illustration with a photo and description of a notable work of architecture. Kids will experience the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudi, and they’ll see such masterpieces as the open-air church in Cartegena, Columbia, inspired by Gothic cathedrals; a temporary Chinese school constructed by students and teachers from plywood and recycled paper tubes, and New York City’s Gugghenheim Museum. It’s an exciting way to experience the world and emphasizes the importance of play in the creative process.

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I put this book out during a storytime for my preschoolers, and just read the rhyming text. After storytime, I brought out stacking cups, blocks, and foam building pieces, and let the kids go to work. Watching the little ones work with their parents was amazing; there were walls, buildings, and winding roads by the time they were done. This is a great book for school-age kids, but you can easily modify it for younger ones. Booktalk it, let them draw or work with their hands, and see what the kids can create for you.

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Dreaming Up has received multiple awards and honors, including Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors, the International Reading Association (IRA) Children’s and Young Adult Book Award Honor, and the 2012 California Book Award. It has been designated a Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association (ALA) and was included on the Read! Build! Play! Summer Reading list of Books that Inspire Play, ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) and LEGO.

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