Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

How islands raised an activist: Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña, by Marsha Diane Arnold

Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña, by Marsha Diane Arnold/Illustrated by Angela Domínguez, translated by Adriana Dominguez, (Sept. 2018, Lee & Low Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9780892394135

Ages 4-8

This bilingual English/Spanish story is based on the life of Galápagos Islands conservationist Valentina Cruz. Raised on the island, Valentina grew up surrounded by beauty: the blue-green sea, the playful penguins and sea lions, the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks, and her father’s two tortoises, Carlitos and Isabela. Valentina goes away to school, but promises the animals and her islands that “I will not forget you… And I will help to keep you safe.” It’s a promise she keeps, returning to the islands on school holidays, camping out on remote islands to live and learn among the different flora and fauna, eventually becoming a biologist who returns to the islands to teach visitors to love her home as she does, and about the importance of preservation and conservation.

Author Marsha Diane Arnold met Valentina on a 2007 trip to the Galápagos and was inspired to write Galápagos Girl in the hope that readers would learn, as Valentina did, to help keep nature safe. Under threat from invasive species, active tourism, and encroaching humans, plant and animal life on the Galápagos is increasingly vulnerable. With bright, tropical colors and bold illustration, Pura Belpré Honoree Angela Dominguez transports readers to the magical islands; she communicates the feeling that we’re seeing something truly special as Valentina moves among unique plants and animals that aren’t found anywhere else on Earth. We’re given a special, secret pass to paradise as we turn each page of Galápagos Girl, and reading it with an unabashed sense of wonder will inspire that spark in a storytime group. An author’s note and a note about the Islands explains Marsha Diane Arnold’s first meeting with Valentina and provides background on the Islands. Five pages of information about the animals introduced in the story adds nice background information to the story, as does a solid bibliography. The bilingual text makes it accessible to Spanish and English-speaking readers.

The storytelling gives readers a glimpse at Valentina’s passion for conservation and illustrates how growing up with a respect for nature creates a better world for everyone. Galápagos Girl is a worthwhile add to storytime collections, bilingual collections, and natural history collections. There’s a free Animals of the Galápagos matchup download available at the Lee & Low website.

Marsha Diane Arnold is an award-winning picture-book author. Her past titles include the Smithsonian Notable Book The Pumpkin Runner and Lost. Found., which received three starred reviews. Marsha was inspired to write this story after traveling to the Galápagos Islands, where she met Valentina Cruz and had the opportunity to swim with sea lions and dolphins. She lives with her family in Alva, Florida. You can find her online at marshadianearnold.com.

Angela Domínguez is the author and illustrator of several books for children, including the Children’s Book Press title Let Me Help! / Quiero ayudar!Marta Big and Small, and Maria Had a Little Llama, which received the Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. In 2016, she received her second Pura Belpré Honor for her illustrations in Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina. When Angela is not in her studio, she teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award. She lives in Virginia. Visit her online at angeladominguezstudio.com.

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Posted in Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Fall means back-to-school, and new BOOKS.

Here in NY, most of the kids start school tomorrow, but the bigger news is that there are amazing books lined up for Fall!

Magnificent Birds, by Narisa Togo, (Sept. 2018, Candlewick), $20, ISBN: 9781536201697

Ages 7-12

Linocut artist Narisa Togo presents readers with a gorgeous book on birds from all over the world. Fourteen beautifully colored spreads feature the familiar, including the bald eagle, flamingos, penguins, and pelicans and the exotic, such as the greater bird of paradise and the kakapo. Each spread includes the genus and species, range and habitat, and two brief, informative paragraphs about each species. The linocuts are striking, with muted colors that allow the texture of the cuts to speak. A wonderful gift for bird lovers, and a nice add to nonfiction collections. Create a beautiful display with Britta Teckentrup’s Birds and Their Feathers, Drawn from Nature, and Magnificent Creatures.

A Dog Named Haku: A Holiday Story from Nepal, by Margarita Engel, Amish Karanjit, & Nicole Karanjit/Illustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran, (Sept. 2018, Lerner Publishing Group), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-5124-3205-3

Ages 4-8

Two brothers search the streets of Nepal for a stray dog to feed during the festival of Kukur Tihar, a special day honoring dogs. The festival is also a remembrance of the search and rescue dogs that saved lives after the devastating 2015 earthquake. Award-winning author Margarita Engle, her daughter, Nicole Karanjit and son-in-law Amish Karanjit, come together with illustrator Ruth Jeyaveeran to create a touching story of empathy, memory, and celebration. It’s a glimpse into Nepali culture, enhanced by a glossary, further reading, and activities, and a story that emphasizes empathy and love for all creatures, great and small. Ruth Jeyaveeran’s illustrations further this study in culture, with brown-skinned people wearing Nepali clothing and animals wearing vermilion paste, a sign of holiness and blessing, on their foreheads during the celebrations.

Get this one in your libraries and classrooms, and read it for Diwali – while you hit Pinterest for some Diwali crafts. I love this accordion fold paper diya craft.

My Beijing: Stories of Everyday Wonder, by Nie Jun, (Sept. 2018, Lerner Publishing Group), $30.65, ISBN: 9781512445909

Ages 8-12

This graphic novel contains four stories of Yu’er, a young girl who lives with an unnamed disability, and her grandfather, in a small Beijing neighborhood. Yu’er want to swim in the Special Olympics, but she and grandpa need to find a pool for her practice. Another story takes Yu’er and a friend to a place filled with musical insects; in one story, Yu’er learns a story about her grandparents; finally, Yu’er and her grandfather teach a painter a lesson about enjoying life. The watercolor artwork is quiet and soothing, with a storytelling style manga fans will recognize and enjoy. It’s a positive look at the relationship between grandchild and grandparent, and the colorful characters in their neighborhood illustrate the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Display and booktalk with Atinuke’s Anna Hisbiscus books, Saadia Faruqi’s Meet Yasmin!, and Debbie Michiko Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi books for illustrated chapter books that introduce readers to world cultures.

Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens!, by John Patrick Green, (Sept. 2014, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 978162672830

Ages 7-10

Marmalade is the best architect you’d ever want to meet – but she’s also an adorable kitten, too! How can she get anyone to take her seriously? By teaming up with an adorable group of similarly skilled kittens to form the Kitten Construction Company, of course! Sampson, an electrical engineer, Bubbles, a skilled (and easily distracted) plumber, and Professor von Wigglebottom, a carpenter with a lot of contacts, decide to build their own mansion for Mewtown’s mayor. This graphic novel is the first in a new series and it’s too much fun for younger readers. There are great sight jokes, crisp, kid-friendly cartooning, and a smart story about being taken seriously, no matter how cute you are. I can’t wait to see more of this series!

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Baby Animals Eating is the cutest book you will read today.

Baby Animals Eating, by Suzi Eszterhas, (Aug. 2018, OwlKids), $14.95, ISBN: 9781771473170

Ages 3-7

Wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas’ third Baby Animals book, Baby Animals Eating, spotlights more adorable baby animals, and their parents, enjoying foods from eucalyptus leaves to mother’s milk. The pictures are vibrant, and the text teaches readers about animal behavior and differing food needs. The previous books, Baby Animals Moving and Baby Animals Playing, come together to form a great introduction to natural science for early learners, and can lead to a good discussion on nutrition. Ask kids what they like to eat; ask for similarities and differences (Bears like to eat clams and fish; do you? Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves; what leaves do you like to eat?) Notice the relationships between parents, siblings, and babies: does your grownup carry you? Do you and your siblings like to eat the same things? Back matter includes more information about Suzi Eszterhas and some behind-the-scenes photos.

This is a great book for storytime, and the crisp pictures allow for early and pre-readers to explore independently. A nice series to add to early nonfiction collections, and a great book to give little ones who love animals. (Go around the room and point out different toys and stuffed animals, and see how many kids can point out from the book.)

Keep Suzi Eszterhas’ webpage on your list of reference links. She’s got a fantastic amount of information on the page, including her books, newsletter, tours and workshops, and a gallery with some of the most incredible wild animal photos you’ve ever seen (perfect for animal reports!). There’s also a link to Girls Who Click, an organization founded by Eszterhaus, empowering young women to enter the field of nature photography and further global conservation efforts.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Book Birthday: Who Eats Orange?

Who Eats Orange?, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Robin Page, (Aug. 2018, Simon & Schuster Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781534404083

Ages 3-6

Need a fun, new concept book on your shelves? Who Eats Orange looks at the eating habits of animals from bunnies to bears. Four animals eat one color, and the fifth doesn’t – but eats a different color, which brings us into the next group of animals. There’s quite a bit of information, broken down into simple, easily understandable bites, to be found here: colors, animals and what they eat, and their habitats: “Who eats orange? Bunnies in their hutches do. / Chickens in the henhouse too. / Who else eats orange? Goats. / Pigs. Gorillas too. Gorillas? NO! The repetitive text pattern gets kids ready; they’ll learn quickly who doesn’t eat a chosen color, and join in with a hearty “NO!” when the time comes. The text brings things right back to kids, encouraging them to eat the rainbow, with a colorful spread of fruits and vegetables. The back matter organizes the animals, and their foods, by habitat (farm, Africa, ocean, forest, rainforest, tundra) and provides more information on animals and their culinary tastes.

The digital art is wonderful; reminiscent of one of my favorite realistic animal artists, Steve Jenkins. (Robin Page also dedicates the book to Steve Jenkins, which was pretty great to see.) The vivid artwork stand out against stark white backgrounds, inviting readers to imagine the roughness of a hippo or the bushy fur of a fox and marmot. The faces are gentle, with expressive eyes that will draw storytime fans right in. It’s such an interactive book, with opportunities to get the kids talking about animals, food, and color. There’s an activity kit available for download that comes with animals masks to cut out, a rainbow recipe, and writing activities.

I read Who Eats Orange, along with one of my old favorites, Who Hops?, to my 6-year-old. Who Hops? works in a similar manner, introducing different animals who hop, swim, crawl… and then one animal that obviously cannot! Anyway, we had big laughs, he pronounced Who Eats Orange “so much fun”, and laughed at me when I suggested he start eating the rainbow with me. Hey, I tried.

Who Eats Orange is way too much fun for toddlers and preschoolers! A fun add to concepts and animal collections, and a good gift book for rising preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Posted in Non-Fiction

My Wild Activity Book is BIG fun for kids!

My First Wild Activity Book, by Maxime Lebrun, (Jan. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626869578

Ages 4+

This activity book on animals and their habitats is packed with things to do and make! Inviting kids on an adventure, the book begins with a challenge: take a journey through seven habitats around the world, and offers kids the chance to write their own profiles and draw a self-portrait. From there, the game is on! Readers can work their way through the seven habitats: rain forests, deserts, oceans, the mountains, forests, the savanna, and the polar ice by enjoying search and find activities across fold-out spreads, mazes, connect-the-dots and matching games, coloring sheets, and spot the difference challenges. There are loads of facts throughout the book, and each habitat offers a “think outside of the book” activity that parents, caregivers, and educators can enjoy with the kiddos! Sticker badges for each habitat add a little passport-y punch to the book, and two pages of animal stickers (seriously, so. many. stickers) lets readers go wild on the spreads, or, if you’ve got a kid like mine, his bed, the walls in his room, and, in one case, my laptop.

My son went through this book in just shy of a day and a half, and that’s only because I begged for mercy to make dinner when he was halfway through. We had a great time working on these activities and coloring the pages together, and our next step is to work on a few of the “outside of the book” activities: should we make a leaf collage first, or liberate some of our renegade socks, to make a snake? Maybe we’ll go for the paper plate aquarium! This one is absolute fun for families, and the projects are great for a STEM or Discovery Club at the library or in school. It’s a fun way to enhance natural science learning.

There’s a free maze and “spot the differences” printable at Silver Dolphin’s website. Enjoy!

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

Birds and Their Feathers brings art and STEM together

Birds and Their Feathers, by Britta Teckentrup, (March 2018, Prestel), $16.95, ISBN: 9783791373355

Ages 6+

It’s always wonderful when art and science come together to show us the world in all of its natural beauty. Britta Tecktentrup’s Birds and Their Feathers is a stunning example. The book introduces readers to the science of plumology – bird feather science, or plumage science. If this is a new term for you, you’re not alone; this is a branch of ornithology that I wasn’t aware of, either! The book beautifully blends fascinating facts about plumage and birds with breathtaking artwork to give readers a wonderful introduction to this area of the natural world, with spreads dedicated to the structure and development of the feather; types and colors of feathers (they all have their own jobs!) and wings, human usage of the feather, and how humankind was so inspired by the feather, we used it to take flight on our own.

The artwork is quietly breathtaking, using earth tones and collage artwork to create soft, yet dramatic, pictures of birds and their plumage. The endpapers are covered with feather artwork so realistic, you’ll swear you can feel their softness under your fingertips. The writing is never overwhelming; rather, each page has anywhere from a few lines to a handful of paragraphs dedicated to its topic, with facts like: “The inside of a feather needs colours that help protect it and keep it durable. Such colours may include red and yellow, which can prevent bacteria from harming the feather”; “Some birds can make different sounds generated by their feathers”; and “Some fish-eating birds eat their own feathers to line their stomachs, which protects them from sharp fish bones”. This book is perfect for kids and grown-ups alike.

Perfect for a nature study or STEM project, Birds and Their Feathers is a must-add to your nonfiction shelves. Get your readers working with feathers to make their own art, and if you can find a feather or two to show off the parts of a feather up close (wear gloves if you get this from outside!), even better. I’d use this in my Discovery Club in a second. Birds and Their Feathers has a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

 

 

Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart/Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen – Science picture book on how different birds use their feathers.

Feather, by Cao Wenxuan/Illustrated by Roger Mello, Translated by Chloe Garcia-Roberts – A fable about a feather trying to find its origin.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Nibbles Does Nonfiction! Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide!

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide, by Emma Yarlett, (March 2018, Kane Miller),  $16.99 ISBN 978-1-61067-643-4

Recommended for readers 4-8

Nibbles the Book Monster is a HUGE celebrity in my home, in my storytime, and now, in my kiddo’s classroom. More on that in a sec. So, Nibbles is a little yellow monster who loves to nibble books. In his first adventure, he nibbled his way through some fairy tales, but he wanted more. Enter Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide, which combines solid nonfiction dinosaur information, including eras, scientific names (with pronunciation), and fast facts. This is no regular dinosaur book, though: Nibbles is on another adventure, chomping and nom nom-ing his way through the prehistoric era, irritating dinosaurs and spreading mayhem as he goes! Will Nibbles end up on the menu this time?

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide is full of the same flips and bite-sized page nibbles that makes the first book so much fun to read. Add to that, the hilarious bodily functions of dinosaurs (did you know that a single diplodocus fart could power a hot air balloon? You do now!) and a laugh-out-loud interaction with a T-Rex, and you have a dino book that kids will come back to again and again.

Now the fun part: I brought Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide to my son’s kindergarten class for a storytime visit. The kids had a choice of books, and Nibbles got the overwhelming vote, so we got into circle time on the carpet and I read the story. The screaming. The hilarity. It was controlled pandemonium, and I loved every second of it. The best part of the visit was my reading the phrase, “I am the Prince of Parps!” (polite British speak for ‘fart’) and the one Scottish kid in my son’s class burst out laughing; his classmates said, “What’s a parp?”, so I looked at him and nodded. He proudly pronounced, “IT”S A FART!” and the class lost their minds. That, my friends, is how you embrace storytime.

Need more Nibbles in your life? Who doesn’t? Author Emma Yarlett’s webpage has printable activities aplenty. Go make a Nibbles bookmark!

Rocking Nibbles in the classroom