Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bear and Wolf: A tale of two friends

Bear and Wolf, by Daniel Salmieri, (Feb. 2018, Enchanted Lion), $17.95, ISBN: 9781592702381

Recommended for readers 4-8

Bear and Wolf discover one another walking through the snow one day; they wander together, enjoying the sights and sounds of the snowy forest, glancing at an owl flying overhead, and peering into a frozen lake to see the sleeping fish. They part so Bear can hibernate in his den, and Wolf can run with his pack. When Spring returns, the friends reunite across the green forest.

With cool color shades to welcome winter and warm earth colors to celebrate spring, Bear and Wolf is less a story about seasons than about renewal: of friendship and of nature. It also honors the joy of taking one’s time, noticing the details, enjoying the journey. The gouache, watercolor, and crushed colored pencil artwork provides texture and yet, is soft and comforting. Bear and Wolf is a serene story that is nicely paired with books like Tiny, Perfect Things or The Magic Garden. A must-add to storytime shelves.

Bear and Wolf has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and is on my Caldecott shortlist.

 

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

Lion (Forge), Tigers, and Bears… Oh, My!

In a twist on the classic Wizard of Oz quote, I found myself with a tiger book, a bear book, but no lion book. Lion Forge came to the rescue with a hilarious (and animal-related) picture book! Enjoy!

This is a Taco!, by Andrew Cangelose/Illustrated by Josh Shipley, (May 2018, Lion Forge), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1941302729

Recommended for readers 4-8

Lion Forge Comics also puts out some really good kids’ books. This is a Taco! is a laugh-out-loud take on a nature book about squirrels that breaks the fourth wall. Taco is a squirrel who loves tacos. As the nonfiction narrative on squirrels progress, Taco is there to disabuse readers of any facts they may be picking up about squirrels. Squirrels eat tree bark? This is news to Taco, who really wants to know where his tacos are. Great climbers? Taco’s terrified! He lives in a bush! Taco has enough by the time a section on hawks – the greatest squirrel predator – shows up on the scene, and decides to change the story. Grabbing a red pen, Taco writes his own happy ending and imparts serious wisdom to readers: “if you want tacos in your story, then YOU make sure there are tacos in your story”.

Kids are going to love this hilarious book. Taco the Squirrel is right up there with Mo Willems’ Pigeon in terms of characters who take charge of their stories and bring the laughs. This makes for a great creative writing exercise with older kids; let them “rewrite” their own stories with weeded picture books or some photocopied pages. Show them Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett’s Battle Bunny for another example of a picture book taking on a life of its own. And for taco-loving readers, get those Dragons Love Tacos books on the display shelves. This book is way too much fun – get it into the hands of kids, ASAP! There’s a companion book, This is a Whoopsie, coming out in October.

 

The Tiptoeing Tiger, by Philippa Leathers, (Feb. 2018, Candlewick Press), $14.00, ISBN: 9780763688431

Recommended for readers 3-7

Everyone knows that tigers are sleek, silent, and totally terrifying. Except for Little Tiger. He can’t seem to get anyone in the forest to notice him, let alone be afraid of him! After his brother bets that he can’t scare any animal in the forest, Little Tiger sets off, determined to frighten someone. He tiptoes his way through the book, trying to scare boars, elephants, and monkeys, with no luck. Isn’t there anyone he can scare before the day is out?

This is a great book for the littles, who LOVE “scaring” people. I remember I couldn’t walk out of my bathroom without my little guy jumping and “boo!”-ing me starting around the age of 3. (He’s 5 now, and still tries it; these days, it’s usually with a Nerf sniper rifle.) The author speaks to a child’s desire to be seen as someone bigger, and the frustration at being ignored, or worse – laughed at – when they’re trying to be like the bigger folks. The repetition of Little Tiger’s tiptoeing up to his prey invites readers to be part of the story, whether they tiptoe with their toes or walk their fingers on a surface. Let them give their best ROAR! to see how they’d match up with Little Tiger.

The pencil and watercolor illustrations are adorable; very kid-friendly, and leave a lot of open space to show the size differences between Little Tiger and the rest of the animals. Green endpapers with fern leaf patterning bring readers into the story. The Tiptoeing Tiger is a fun story about being small, but determined. A fun additional book for animal lovers.

 

The Curious Cares of Bears, by Douglas Florian/Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez, (Aug. 2017, little bee books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0462-1

This rhyming story takes readers through the four seasons with a group of bears and how they spend their time. In the spring, they love to climb trees and steal honey from bees, play and chase each other; in the summer, there’s swimming and games, family reunions, and parties; in the fall, they play all day and sing by a campfire at night; and when winter arrives, it’s time to make their way to their den to hibernate, until the spring thaw comes, and they get ready to explore their world all over again.

This is a gentle, fun read about the seasons. The group of cuddly bears pass their time in similar ways to our own families, which makes for some fun questions to pose to readers, especially near different seasonal school breaks. The rhyming text has a nice, steady rhythm for readers and the soft art makes the bears look fuzzy and cuddly, like the best bear books do. Endpapers feature an extended family group of bears wandering around the forest, setting the tone for the story. Give this to your teddy bear loving readers, and booktalk with some easy reader season books, like those from Rookie Readers.

 

Great Polar Bear, by Carolyn Lesser, (Apr. 2018, Seagrass Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781633225022

Recommended for readers 5-8

I had to add an extra bear book here, because Great Polar Bear is just beautiful. A nonfiction book written in verse, Carolyn Lesser takes readers through a year in the life of a polar bear. Originally published in 1996 as The Great Crystal Bear (illustrated by William Noonan), this new edition features all-new collage artwork by Lesser; it gives beautiful texture and depth to the illustrations. The narrative brings facts to readers through rhythmic verse, rather than terse statements: the bear’s fur, for instance, “gathers sunlight, to heat your black skin and thick layer of fat”. We also learn about the endangered environment and problems caused by climate change. Back matter contains “Explorer’s Notes” and emphasizes conservation. This is a good additional text for nonfiction collections where bears are popular.

 

Africa Calling, Nighttime Falling, by Danny Adlerman/Illustrated by Kim Adlerman, (March 2018, Lee and Low Books), $9.95, ISBN: 9781620147955

Recommended for readers 3-7

For my Oh My! book, I’ve got the bedtime story, Africa Calling, Nighttime Falling; a mellow story about African animals in their habitats as the sun sets for the day. The rhyming text leads includes quiet accompanying phrases for each animal: “As moonlight cloaks the desert land, Viper slinks across the sand… swiftly sliding, vipers gliding”. I read them as whispered phrases, between stanzas, because it seems to really work with my Kindergartner. The artwork includes collage over paintings, with what looks like some photographic media mixed in. The twist at the end brings this full circle when readers see that it’s a little girl’s imagination, before bedtime, and that she’s surrounded by her jungle’s worth of stuffed animals. It’s a nice additional add where bedtime stories and animal books are popular, and a good one to test out with stuffed animal sleepover storytimes.

 

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

Join Elise Gravel’s Mushroom Fan Club!

The Mushroom Fan Club, by Elise Gravel, (May 2018, Drawn & Quarterly), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-77046-322-6

Recommended for readers 6-12

Artist and author Elise Gravel’s newest book, The Mushroom Fan Club, is its own little science comic! Elise Gravel and her family love going mushroom hunting, and The Mushroom Fan Club shares that sense of fun and adventure with readers. Beginning with an illustration of Gravel, her daughters, and cats heading out to explore, Gravel narrates why she’s fascinated with mushrooms: they look like aliens from outer space! They come in all different sizes and shapes! She proceeds to teach readers what she’s learned about mushrooms, from biology (parts, reproduction, environment) to the different types of mushrooms. She exercises caution, exhorting readers NOT TO EAT mushrooms they may encounter on their own, as many are poisonous; even illustrating mushrooms warning readers that they can “make you very, very sick! And even worse!” The Mushroom Fan Club is loaded with fun facts, bright illustrations in Elise Gravel’s immediately recognizable style, and fun mushroom-related art activities.

I’m a big Elise Gravel fan, so if she illustrated a box of cereal, I’d eat it and suggest it for literary honors. I love this fun twist on earth science nonfiction; she makes graphic nonfiction interesting and memorable. If you haven’t read her biography on The Great Antonio, I highly recommend it. Check out an excerpt of The Mushroom Fan Club on the Drawn and Quarterly website, and visit Elise Gravel’s author webpage for free printables of all sorts. Read The Mushroom Fan Club in a science program, read it at dinner time, just read it and have fun with it!

Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-fiction

Two more Science Comics coming your way this Summer!

Science Comics is adding two more titles to their line this summer, just in time for Summer Reading!

Science Comics: Rockets – Defying Gravity, by Anne Drozd & Jerzy Drozd, (June 2018, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626728257

Recommended for readers 8-12

In June, we get a deeper look at Rockets. Readers get a guided tour by an early rocket prototype in the form of a pigeon (nope, no joke) and take a trip through the history of gravity, force, acceleration, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and the history of rockets past, present, and possible future. Readers are going to love seeing the evolution of rockets from steam-powered to jet-fueled and beyond. The many animals that have been part of our space programs get their say, here, too: from bears, to chimpanzees, to dogs, and more, there are full-color spreads loaded with colorful illustrations and packed with information. Resources at the end of the book are ready to guide interested readers.

If you haven’t enjoyed Jerzy Drozd’s comics before, you are in for a treat. His work for the Marvel Superhero Squad game is great, and he’s got a kid-friendly webcomic, Boulder and Fleet, on his page. Anne Drozd is a librarian and space enthusiast, so you know she’s got the goods.

 

Science Comics: Trees, by Andy Hirsch, (Aug. 2018, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781250143105

Recommended for readers 8-12

In August, we meet a little acorn on his journey to become a mighty oak in Trees. Kids interested in nature and ecology will love this brightly illustrated, fact-filled journey through nature, learning about different types of trees and how they are living, breathing beings that work with and contribute to their environment. This volume has a fun sense of play about it, with a spunky little friend to follow through nature. I just wish this one were out earlier, so I could feature it when I start my planting program in a few weeks – the illustration and discussion on how seeds always know which way to grow is amazing!

If you enjoyed the Dogs Science Comic, or read Varmints, you may recognize Andy Hirsch’s work. You can also visit his website, A for Andy, for more illustrations.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books for everyone!

I’ve been on a board book kick the last couple of months. I’ve mentioned before that I’m always on the lookout for fun, new board books that tell a story or teach concepts in a fun way. These are a few I’ve come across on my recent wanderings.

10, 9, 8… Owls Up Late!, by Georgiana Deutsch & Ekaterina Trukhan, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $9.99, ISBN: 9781684121847

Recommended for 3-6

This rhyming, counting book is just too  much fun. Ten little owls are playing in a tree, when Mama Owl calls, “It’s time for you to rest!” One by one, each of the birds listen to Mama and flies down to the nest, but it’s a lot of fun while they take their time! Each spread is die-cut, as is the cover, to highlight different owls, hanging out in the tree. Each number appears in a star on the upper left hand side of the spread, easily letting readers know which number they’re on; owls and other inhabitants of the tree are cartoony and colorful, with little individual touches like a pair of earmuffs here, a nightcap there. The repetitive text assures that you’ll have company reciting this fun bedtime countdown in no time, and a spread numbering 1-10, counting up with the owls, finishes off this adorable board book. This book invites readers to really explore and have fun with the book, turning pages and wiggling fingers through die cuts.

 

You’re My Little Cuddle Bug, by Nicola Edwards/Illustrated by Natalie Marshall, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $8.99, ISBN: 9781684122585

Recommended for readers 0-5

Books like this are my weakness. I love, love, LOVE books about snuggling and cuddling, and I’ve been known to refer to my little one as my “snuggle buggy” and “cuddle buggy”. I love reading these books in storytime, because it gives my caregivers kissy-huggy-snuggly time with their little ones. Rhyming text and die-cut/raised bug caregivers and little ones lead readers through a story that’s just about loving and being loved: “You’re my little ladybug, You brighten up my day/With rosy cheeks you smile at me, And chase my blues away”. Bumblebees, caterpillars, butterflies, and beetles are all here, with cartoony, sweet, expressively large eyes and bright colors. You have to have this book on your shelves and in your gift cart. Add some Joyce Wan books (You Are My Cupcake, You Are My Pumpkin, We Belong Together) and you are set!

 

Black Bird, Yellow Sun, by Steve Light, (March 2018, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9780763690670

Recommended for 0-3

I love Steve Light’s books! This is a departure from his “Have You Seen My…” series, and I’m excited to see him introduce concepts. In Black Bird, Yellow Sun, we meet a black bird as he goes through his day, set off against the colors he interacts with: yellow sun, orange leaves, purple grapes, green grass, red snake, gray rocks, pink flowers, and finally, a blue moon. The repetition of the black bird on each spread makes for nice continuity for the kids, who will pick up that the bird is there each time; explain that the bird goes through its day in terms of colors, and ask kids what colors they meet throughout their days. A perfect concept board book for storytimes, gifts, and collections. Black Bird Yellow Sun has a starred review from School Library Journal.

 

In the Rain, by Elizabeth Spurr/Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant, (March 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $6.95, ISBN: 978-1-56145-853-0

Recommended for 0-4

Some kids may be disappointed when the rain begins, but not this little girl! She puts on her slicker and heads outdoors to sail a boat, stomp in puddles, and make mud pies! This fun exploration of weather and play stars a child of color, illustrated joyfully and realistically by Manelle Oliphant. I was excited to find out that author Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant have a whole series of “In the…” and “At the…” board books that explore weather, nature, and play! I’ll be adding these to my next purchase cart for sure; the rhyming text, short sentences, and beautiful illustrations make these a great storytime read!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Nature reveals its magic in The Magic Garden

The Magic Garden, by Lemniscates, (March 2018, Walter Foster Jr.), $16.95, ISBN: 9781633225138

Recommended for readers 4-7

Just stepping outside on any given day can reveal magic: leaves changing color on the trees; the tiniest caterpillar eggs on a leaf, or a chrysalis opening to release a butterfly into the world. In The Magic Garden, a young girl named Chloe takes her garden for granted, until one day, it decides to get her attention: throughout the season, branches wave, birds weave nests and spiders weave webs, bees dance, and the cycle continues.

How often do we actually stop and notice what’s going on around us? The Magic Garden speaks to the ubiquitous of nature and to how we move within nature without seeing the wonder around us. Award-winning author, illustrator, and designer Lemniscates’ mixed media, collage, and digital artwork come together to bring a textured, colorful world to readers, and popular questions about nature at the end of the book – Why do fireflies glow? Why do bees dance? – make this an enticing read-aloud that works in a science setting as easily as it would in a storytime setting. It invites children to stop and look at the world around them and ask why. This is the perfect story to accompany a nature journal craft I’ve had pinned to my Pinterest boards for over a year now: read the story, let kids make their journals, and have them go out and fill them!

 

 

 

Posted in Non-fiction, picture books

Nature is the artwork in Drawn from Nature

I think I can finally put away my winter coat, which has me embracing Spring and Spring-like books! I think I’ll devote today’s posts to nature-related artwork and storytelling.

Drawn from Nature, by Helen Ahpornsiri, (March 2018, Candlewick), $22.00, ISBN: 9780763698980

Recommended for readers 6-10

This look at the seasons is just stunning. The artwork is created using hand-pressed flowers and foliage (responsibly grown or foraged in the wild, as the artist/author’s note takes care to mention). Flowers and leaves create bird feathers and beaks; eggs and nests, ladybugs and butterflies. Helen Ahpornsiri takes readers through each season, making sure we notice the beautiful little notes from nature; from building a nest in Spring, to swooping swallows and chirping crickets in the Summer; from the fragile dandelion puffs of Autumn to the bare branches of Winter, each season reveals itself through delicate and exquisite art.

The endpapers delight with colorful garden scenes and each season’s nature maintains its color palette: Spring is verdant and green, bright and bold; Summer is deeper, vibrant, with an emphasis on fireflies and nocturnal animals who hunt by night; Autumn colors become more yellow and red, crisping at the edges, and Winter is spare, fragile, with clustered and hibernating animals and bare branches; evergreen leaves holding onto their leaves.

As Booklist notes, Drawn from Nature is a beautiful blend of art and science and is a wonderful inspiration for art classes as well as nature and earth science classes. A glossary includes terms mentioned throughout the book. Get those leaves, twigs, and stones for the kids, then let them have at it! Drawn from Nature has a starred from Kirkus.