Friday, January 11, 2019

Picture Book Friday

Once Upon A Snowstorm by Richard Johnson is a charming picture book with a twist. The tale is told entirely without words, inviting young readers to imagine their own interpretations of the events that flow across the beautifully illustrated pages.

The story begins with a lonely father and son enjoying the beauty of the falling snow. When the boy becomes lost, he’s discovered by woodland animals and finds refuge and friendship among the forest creatures.  Eventually, his longing to be reunited with his father inspires a kindly bear to undertake the long journey home. Father and son are reunited, but now the bear is in danger of being shot until the boy steps in and becomes the rescuer by explaining the bear’s presence to the father.  The father’s understanding and acceptance of the bear opens a path to friendship with all the other animals and puts an end to the father’s and son’s solitary existence.

The illustrations are detailed and imaginative. The snow scene is engaging with the flakes transforming into racing deer, rabbits, foxes, and birds. Clever snapshots that focus on small details: the hands of father and son as they lose touch with one another, the astonished faces of each animal that mirror the boy’s surprise are juxtaposed with richly-colored double page spreads.

There is a thoughtful use of perspective employed throughout to emphasize individual plot points such as the minute image of the boy in the blizzard’s field of swirling white or the huddled form of the exhausted boy lit by the faint light of starry animal constellations spread across a double page spread of inky night.

Young readers will find much to discover as they identify details to incorporate into the narrative. Once Upon A Snowstorm offers a delightful opportunity for parents and children to collaborate on storytelling as they discuss the various images and explore their meanings.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Nonfiction Monday

Oliver’s Otter Phase by Lisa Connors with illustrations by Karen Jones follows Oliver
as he spends a day trying to live like an Otter.

But what does that mean? Otters arrange their food on their stomach. Otters secure their babies with kelp to keep them from floating away. Otters hold food in an underarm pouch. Otters hold hands when they sleep. Oliver delights in finding out what life as a pretend otter is all about. Try as he might, he also discovers that in the end, he’s more successful being a boy.

As with other books by Arbordale, this story contains a Creative Minds section that includes factual information to provide points of discussion for parents and lesson options for teachers. Marine Mammals defines the characteristics of mammals in general and the specializations of sea otters. Sea Otters and You compares and contrasts otters and humans. Sea Otter Tools provides an opportunity to test knowledge by matching otter skills with the ways in which Oliver uses tools. Sea Otters and River Otters creates a Venn diagram to examine the characteristics and behaviors of these two related species.

Recommended for home and school libraries. Great discussion starter for STEM studies.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Nonfiction Monday

Nature photographer Mary Holland introduces young readers to the many variations and adaptations of ANIMAL EARS in this new addition to her award-winning Animal Anatomy series.

Stunning full-color closeups fill most of the double page spreads and are underscored by age appropriate text that offers insights into the many ways in which animals use their ears to survive. Although written with children in mind, adults will learn new facts as well.  Did you know that not all ears are located on the head? Katydid ears are on their legs. And while most animals have a pair of ears, the Praying Mantis has only one which is located in a groove on the underside of its body between its front legs. Fascinating!

The book identifies an audience of ages 4-9. Younger readers will enjoy the strong visual impact of the images and benefit from reading with an adult or older sibling. Experienced readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section titled For Creative Minds where additional discussions review the many specific ways in which animals utilize their ears. A “Mix and Match” page challenges readers to pair photos of animals with the correct set of ears. “How Do Ears Hear?” provides a more detailed look at the mechanism of hearing and also alerts readers to the fact that not every person is able to utilize this important sense. “Ear Questions” answers three important questions: Why do some animals have very small ears? – How do owls hear so well? – Can ears do anything but hear?

The publisher, Arbordale, has aligned this book to NGSS, Core, and state standards in science, math, and social studies. An extensive teaching activities guide is available on

An excellent STEM resource. Recommended for home, school, and library.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Nonfiction Monday

Yodel the Yearling by Mary Holland relates the true story of a black bear cub from his waking in the spring with his mother and siblings through the year when he will strike out on his own and live an independent life.

Written for ages 4-9, this narrative nonfiction story is richly imagined and well supported with lovely close-up photography. The story offers readers a detailed look at how Yodel plays and learns the many important skills he will need to survive.

Young readers will enjoy discovering additional important information about black bears in a follow-up section titled: For Creative Minds. For instance, bears aren’t true hibernators. They actually spend their winters is a deep sleep called torpor.  How can bears go so long without eating? You’ll find that answer, too.  “What Do Bears Eat?” carefully illustrates many of the black bears’ favorite foods.  A final section details “Black Bear Signs” with explanations and photographs that provide a guide to the many ways to discover the presence of black bears.

A 30-page cross curricular Teaching Activity Guide is available online. The book is also available in Spanish.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Nonfiction Monday

Matter: Physical Science for Kids by Andi Diehn acquaints young readers, ages 5-8, with the concept of matter.

The book opens by identifying some of the familiar ways in which the word “matter” is used in everyday life: “What’s the matter” “It doesn’t matter.” and so on. But matter is much more than those phrases would suggest.
Charming illustrations and reader-friendly text explore the science of matter by introducing the definition: “Matter is anything that takes up space and can be weighed.” Continuing on, readers will discover that matter makes up everything from our clothes, to our pets, to the air we breathe. Matter exists in various forms such as solid, liquid, and gas and can have many shapes, colors, and sizes.
Finally, the book examines some of the things that are not matter – light and heat.
Examples are pulled from everyday experiences and are both entertaining and thought provoking. A pair of Hands-0n experiments and a basic glossary reinforce the content.
A fun introduction to basic science concepts.  Recommended for STEM.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Nonfiction Monday

The Lizard Lady written by Jennifer Keats Curtis and Dr. Nicole F. Angeli, with illustrations by Veronica V. Jones is a lovely introduction into the work of a woman scientist as she conducts her research.

The text is written in a warm narrative voice that immediately draws the reader into the story. At the same time, Curtis weaves in important facts about the history of the lizards and interesting details about of how they survive. Readers will discover the ways in which Dr. Nicole F. Angeli, the Lizard Lady, works to find and protect the endangered lizards that were once prominent on St. Croix, but now, can only be found on neighboring islands.
Lovely illustrations coupled with maps and graphics provide an additional layer of richness.

The book concludes with a section titled: For Creative Minds, which provides additional reading on St. Croix and the Surrounding  Islands, St. Croix Ground Lizards, Adaptations, Dr. Nicole F. Angeli, Herpetologist, and Invasive Species. A 30-page cross curricular Teaching Activity Guide is available online. The book is also available in Spanish.

Recommended for children 4-9. A wonderful edition for school and home libraries.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Nonfiction Monday

Waves: Physical Science for Kids by Andi Diehn introduces young readers, ages 5-8, to the wonderful world of waves in their multiple forms --
Waves in water, waves in wheat.
Waves at a game: “Stand up! Take a seat!”
Waves in your hair, waves with your hand,
Powerful waves under the land.
Makes wave in a string
then stretch it taut.
Waves are everywhere, whether
We see them or not!

Clear, simple language and colorful illustrations invite youngster to explore wave energy from the powerful waves that surge onto the beach to the invisible waves of light and sound.
Examples are pulled from everyday life and are both entertaining and thought provoking. A pair of Hands-0n experiments and a basic glossary reinforce the content.
A fun introduction to simple science concepts.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer