Mom Read It

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

Do Fairies Bring the Spring? Let’s find out! March 15, 2017

Do Fairies Bring the Spring?, by Liza Gardner Walsh/Illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, (Feb. 2017, Down East Books), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-60893-633-5

Recommended for readers 3-7

Do fairies bring the spring? This adorable picture book poses the question while infusing nature with a little bit of magic, as Liza Gardner Walsh’s rhyming text suggests that fairies are behind the scenes, working to bring spring to the world. Suggestions for attracting fairies to your own gardens in the spring, at the end of the book, encourage you to dig into nature with your little ones and take care of your little corner of the world.

Hazel Mitchell’s illustrations of diverse, adorable little fairies and their woodland friends infuse this Spring story with all the charm and wonder that makes a preschool/Kindergartner story a success.

Invite some magic into your life this spring with this sweet springtime story! Little ones will love the soothing rhyme and the adorable pictures. Encourage parents to get outside with their little ones and enjoy nature while respecting it –  no littering, please! This is a great story to read and follow up with a planting activity, whether it’s going out in the yard with your little one, or planting some seeds in recyclable egg cartons and bringing them home to start a container garden. Hand out fairy coloring sheets, or print small fairy pictures out on card stock, let the kids color them in, and mount them on popsicle sticks to give your new  plants extra fairy protection!

Liza Gardner Walsh is a former librarian (whoo hoo!) and has a companion book, Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows? (2015). Her website, Moss & Grove, encourages parents and kids to get outside and embrace nature. See more of illustrator Hazel Mitchell’s work at her website.

 

A boy and his friend must act fast to save The Last Tree January 20, 2017

last-treeThe Last Tree, by Ingrid Chabbert/Illustrated by Guridi, (April 2017, Kids Can Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771387286

Recommended for ages 4-7

A boy listens to his father describe running and playing in the grass as a child, but has only a concrete playing area with a diminishing patch of grass available to him. One day, the boy and his friend discover a baby tree – a sapling, really – hidden behind a wall and are amazed: it’s the first tree they’ve ever seen up close. The boy goes home and discovers, to his horror, that a luxury condo complex is scheduled to begin construction right in the very spot where the tree is growing, and the boys spring into action to save the last tree.

This is a powerful look at how lack of green spaces affects children. Ingrid Chabbert’s narrator is an adult, looking back on his childhood, and how important saving that tree was to him and his friend. It sends a message about the importance of conservation and preservation today, and offers some hope for tomorrow. Artist Guridi communicates this message using charcoal, gravure ink, gouache, pencil, and digital art to create a spark of hope in the grey, bleak future that faces us as we see more green spaces disappear under development.

A strong addition to collections for Earth Day, conservation units, and to empower kids who may not understand that they can have a long-lasting impact on the world with the smallest and kindest of acts. The Last Tree invites a discussion on empathy by examining the boys’ actions and asking children to contribute by sharing a time when they took action to help someone or something that needed it.

 

 

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!

underwater_5

 

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.

 

Road Trip! Ranger Rick’s Travels: National Parks September 19, 2016

ranger-rickRanger Rick’s Travels: National Parks!, by Stacy Tornio & Ken Keffer, (Aug. 2016, Muddy Boots), $14.95, ISBN: 9781630762308

Recommended for ages 8+

In a fabulous love letter to the National Parks of America and the National Park Service, the folks at Ranger Rick Magazine – remember them? They have books now! – put together this beautiful book, featuring each one of the 58 National parks across America. Ranger Rick and his best friend, Deputy Scarlett, appear throughout the book to join readers on a countrywide sightseeing tour.

The book opens with a map of the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska, and the US Virgin Islands. Each park is numbered and corresponds to the Table of Contents, which organizes the parks into 9 groups: Eastern Parks, Midwest Parks, Mountain West Parks, Southwest Parks, Utah and Nevada Parks, California Parks, Pacific Northwest Parks, Pacific Island Parks, and Alaska Parks. Each park’s profile includes stunning photos and facts that will make readers want to pack their bags and take a month or six off from work or school!

rangerrick-rickandscarlettEach park feature provides information in quick bites that read like a tourism guide. About the Park provides a quick overview and basic facts; What to Watch For are Ranger Rick’s top nature picks on what plants and animals to keep an eye out for. Ranger Rick’s Top Things To Do is a bucket list for each park – don’t leave without seeing Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, naturally, but also make sure not to miss out on a hike through the park! Finally, Ranger Rick’s Amazing Facts are the “WOW” factor for each park: did you know that you can only reach Northwest Alaska’s Kobuk Valley National Park by foot, dogsled, snowmobile, or air taxi? Now you do!

This is a great book to have in collections and to have available when you’re talking about the U.S. There’s 100 years of history in the National Parks Service, but there are far more years in the history of these parks; there are petrified trees, dinosaur footprints and bones, and formations carved out of rock thousands of years ago, here for all to enjoy. Families planning a vacation or two can use this as a jumping off point (I know I am).

Don’t forget to head to the Ranger Rick website, where kids can read more about nature and the environment, play some games, and get craft ideas. Educator resources included lesson plans and webinars.

Ranger Rick and Scarlett image courtesy of Photobucket.
 

The Branch gets a new lease on life after a storm July 15, 2016

thebranchThe Branch, by Mireille Messier/Illustrated by Pierre Pratt (Sept. 2016, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771385640

Recommended for ages 3-7

A little girl’s favorite tree branch comes clattering down during an ice storm. A neighbor teaches her how to repurpose the branch, to create new memories.

What a great book to communicate so many ideas! First, we have the imagination of the tree branch. As the little girl says, the branch,”was my castle, my spy base, my ship…”, and she experiences the grief of losing the branch when she spies it on the sidewalk. She doesn’t want to part with it right away, so her mother allows her to hold onto it for a little while – long enough for the girl to encounter her neighbor, who tells her that the branch is “full of potential! …it means it’s worth keeping”, and we learn that he builds things from salvaged wood, and encourages the little girl to think about what the branch could become. When she uses her imagination and reaches into herself to reimagine the branch, she and the neighbor work together to give the branch new life.

In addition to imagination, we’ve got reusing/recycling, which is great for the environment; showing a child unwilling to discard a tree branch as a casualty of the storm, and finding ways to recreate it will get kids thinking about what they could create with objects in the world around them: cereal boxes could become robots or cities for superheroes to protect; old cans can become pencil holders; soda bottles can become terrariums. There are thousands of ideas on the Internet, so there’s no need to wait for Earth Day to come around again to make kids aware of the fun things they can make when they reduce/reuse/recycle.

Finally, we’ve got making: the whole creative process is here: sketching out plans, sawing, planing, drying the wood, waiting, waiting, waiting. It’s a great book to feature with The Most Magnificent Thing, HowToons, and fun nonfiction books, like those in the Make series. Encourage kids and parents to work together on anything from paper airplanes (great use of catalog paper) to repurposing a tree branch – large or small – of your own.

Mireille Messier is a Toronto-based author who’s had over a dozen books published in French. She’s also one of the French reviewers for the National Reading Campaign. Her website is available in English or French and offers information about her books, school visits, and her blog. Pierre Pratt is an award-winning illustrator of over 50 books for children. He lives and works in Montreal, Quebec, and in Lisbon, Portugal.

 

 

Toshi’s Little Treasures: An adorable Search and Find story January 6, 2016

9781771385732_fe9f5Toshi’s Little Treasures, by Nadine Robert/Illustrated by Aki, (Apr. 2016, Kids Can Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771385732

Recommended for ages 3-7

Growing up, I loved Highlights magazine; one of my favorite features in the magazine was the hidden pictures page. When my own children were big enough to start getting Highlights, I’d pitch in and help them find some of the more challenging hidden pictures. When I came across Toshi’s Little Treasures, I was thrilled – it’s a seek and find storybook!

Toshi is a little boy who loves to take walks with his grandmother. During their walks, they discover new little treasures that Toshi can store in his brand new backpack. Toshi and his grandmother explore six places in this book: the riverbank, the town, the forest, the country, the park, and the beach. An introductory page to each location shows kids the treasures they can expect to discover, and a full spread of each spot promises fellow treasure seekers a good hunt. There are activities that help identify the treasures from each place by matching them to related items. An answer key at the back of the book provides interesting facts about Toshi’s treasures and the animals he and his grandmother encounter, really rounding out the experience and giving kids and parents a chance to learn more, together.

The art is very calming, relaxing readers and encouraging them to take their time searching for hidden objects. You’re a guest on a walk with Toshi and his grandmother, there’s no rush! There’s also a quiet nod to diversity with the renderings of Toshi and his grandmother, which I loved.

By offering facts about the animals in each location Toshi and his grandmother visit, the book also offers educators (and parents!) the opportunity to start discussing habitats and the environment with little readers and listeners. It could also inspire a fun field trip to discover treasures of your own.

Toshi’s Little Treasures will be in stores in April. Keep an eye on their website, too: Kids Can Press offers some great learning resources to accompany their books; I’m looking forward to seeing what they develop for this title.