The Skydiving Beavers, A True Tale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skydiving Beavers, A True Tale
by Susan Wood, illustrated by Gysbert van Frankenhuysen
Sleeping Bear Press, 2017

A recounting of a true story that happened in 1948 in McCall, Idaho, when, after the war, people and houses were taking over the beaver’s territory.  It soon became apparent that beavers and people don’t mix well when dammed water flooded roads and land for food became land for houses.  Elmo Heter, a staff person for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, decided they needed to move the beavers to some open land, many miles away.  But how? After many ideas and several practice parachute jumps with Geronimo, a senior beaver, Elmo had a plan.  That fall they successfully moved a beaver colony to an open area.

Well-written, well-paced out, and written in a friendly voice, this is a delight to read.

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Sea Otter Heroes, The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem

Sea Otter Heroes, The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem
by Patricia Newman
Millbrook Press, 2017

Why is the Elkhorn Slough, an estuary, where freshwater mixes with ocean water, contain abundant meadows of seagrass, whereas nearly every other estuary on the Pacific coast does not?  This book tells the story of a scientist who wondered why and studied the phenomenon until he knew.

With generous photos, charts, graphs, and ‘clues’, author Patricia Newman keeps readers curious and turning the pages, while she discusses each hypothesis the scientist made and discarded during his research. In clear, age-appropriate language, Newman invites readers to do their own thinking.  She shows them how much it works to reach the “aha” moment and how much more meticulous work it takes to prove a hypothesis.  The book discusses how the findings are applied to other environments.  It also includes a section that invites readers to rethink their relationship with wildlife.   Sea Otter Heroes is an excellent introduction to science, scientific method, and environmental studies.  The science was performed off Monterey Bay, California.

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Lexie, the Word Wrangler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lexie, the Word Wrangler

by Rebecca Van Slyke, illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017

Lexie, the Word Wrangler is clever, clever, clever with words!  Truly a word lover’s delight.

On the open plains, Lexie wrangles together an ear of corn and a loaf of bread to make some tasty cornbread.  She watches over little baby letters until they grow into bigger words: a, at, cat, cattle. She wrangles a whole passel of words together to make sentences.  But one day the d was missing from her bandana and the rain was missing from rainbow and a red bow hung in the sky.  A word rustler was loose!  “It’s high time to trap this scoundrel,” she said and she waited in a tree determined to stop the rustler.  Then, long about sundown, the rustler lassoed the long in longhorn.  Lexie jumped into action, lassoing the rustler.  Fascinated with words himself, he joined forces with Lexie and even helped the other young’uns learn to hitch words together.

A treasure trove of how words work together.

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Out of School and Into Nature, The Anna Comstock Story

Out of School and Into Nature, The Anna Comstock Story
by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Sleeping Bear Press, 2017

A delightful introduction to Anna Comstock, a naturalist and artist, who became a scientist in the 1800’s, well before women were allowed to do so.  From a very young girl, she loved being in nature and learned many things through observation.  At college, she learned more about insects and was inspired to draw them.  Which led to her carving lines into a woodblock and printing them.  Her fine art were used in colleges and to help teach farmers about insects.  Author Suzanne Slade sprinkles delightful phrases throughout the story, such as “nutty as an oak tree” and “spread faster than dandelion seeds on a windy day.”  When Anna discovered nature was not taught in the schools, she created curriculums and taught teachers about nature.  In this way, she helped inspire future naturalists, today’s environmentalists.

An inspiring nature book for young children.

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Priscilla Gorilla

Priscilla Gorilla
by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017

This brilliant, well-rounded story has it all: an impishly, strong girl who knows her gorilla facts, a creative spirit who lives what she believes, and someone who spends a lot of time in the Thinking Corner!

Priscilla has her dad read All About Gorillas—about a million skillion times! Believing that gorillas always get their way, each moment of each day she thinks, dances, draws, and writes about gorillas. While this works well when the class is invited to wear costumes of their favorite animal, it doesn’t work so well on photo day, and she is sent to the Thinking Corner.  Within a couple days the Thinking Corner becomes crowded!  Her dad reminds Priscilla that Gorillas cooperate.  When Priscilla declares she is a troublemaker gorilla, her dad questions that maybe she could be another animal—like a skunk.  Priscilla reviews her book and tells her teacher her book says “even gorillas don’t always get their way.”  The story ends with a trip to the Ape House and a whole bunch of dancing.

Patient parents and a generous, yet firm, teacher, help gently guide Priscilla into re-thinking her gorilla qualities and Priscilla decides there is more than one kind of gorilla!  A lot of learning going on in this story, including many facts about gorillas.

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A Perfect Day

A Perfect Day
by Lane Smith
Roaring Book Press, 2017

A perfect day means different things to different creatures, but what happens when it means the same thing?

The cat enjoys the sun in the flower bed, the dog enjoys a water’s coolness in a wading pool, the Chickadee enjoys the seeds in a bird feeder, and the squirrel enjoys an ear of corn…..until bear arrives!  It was a perfect day for squirrel, Chickadee, dog and cat and now it’s a perfect day for bear.

With richly textured, whimsical paintings showing the emotions of each creature, the young reader knows exactly what is happening when each creature enjoys their perfect day and when it is taken away. It tugs at the heart, but life is what it is.  Somehow the story is comforting.

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Dogs at War, Military Canine Heroes


Dogs at War, Military Canine Heroes

by Connie Goldsmith
Twenty-First Century Books, 2017

Geared for junior high and high school readers, Dogs at War contains dozens of war dog stories, as well as how dogs are selected and trained, how they use their nose, and how they are adopted when retired.

Beginning with one of the first dog handler teams used in Iraq, the book includes stories from wartimes since World War I.  The book also explores evidence that dogs were used in early Egyptian, Greek and Roman battles.  Early war dogs fought in battle, carried supplies, pulled carts and guarded camps.  Today’s war dogs sniff out weapons, explosives and bomb-making chemicals. Readers will learn how the dog’s nose compares to a human nose and how a dog’s nose works to sniff out even faint odors.  They estimate each dog saves 200-250 lives.

The book shares the close bonds formed between the dog and its handler. Generous quotes, stories, and photos from dog handlers, trainers, and veterinarians make this a riveting book, difficult to put down.

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Mahalia Jackson, Walking with Kings and Queens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mahalia Jackson, Walking with Kings and Queens

by Nina Nolan, illustrated by John Holyfield
Amistad, 2015

Mahalia Jackson was born with nothing, except a voice that was bigger than she was.  When she sang, “she felt like a peacock with her feathers all spread out.” Her mama died and later she had to quit school to look after her cousins.  But she always sang.  When she was sixteen, an aunt took her in and she returned to school, until her aunt took sick.  She sang gospel whenever she could.  “Mahalia’s joyful voice lifted people with hope.  After she sang…, people lined up to join the congregation.”  She took a singing lesson as was told to “stop hollering.” She kept hollering.  She sang in Carnegie Hall and before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.   In back matter, readers learn that well after her death, a New Orleans theatre was named after her and a commemorative postage stamp issued. As her aunt Bell always said to her, “you’ll walk with kings and queens”—and Mahalia became the queen.

A moving story with rich illustrations makes it a joy to follow Mahalia’s dream to sing.  An inspiring story.

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Monster’s New Undies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Monster’s New Undies

by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Tad Carpenter
Scholastic, 2017

An endearing story of undies?  It’s true!  In this rhyming story we meet little monster who dreads shopping for new undies.  When his mom takes him to Undie World, he is soon overwhelmed.  He vetoes polka-dots, tiny whales and racing car undies for him!  In despair he’s about to leave, when he spies the perfect pair.

Filled with all the words for undies and what they cover, it’s clean fun and a fun read-aloud for both parents and kids.

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Things to Do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Things to Do

by Elaine Magliaro, illustrated by Catia Chien
Chronicle Books, 2017

An unassuming book that opens nature’s world to readers.  Readers gently explore things to do if you are dawn, a bird, a honeybee, or even a snail.  Written in a poetic voice, each section begins with “Things to do if you are..” Each section explores the subject, enlightening it with descriptors, some known by readers, some new to readers.  The book invites readers to ponder the descriptions and experience them for themselves.  Loose paintings rendered in acrylic, further invite readers into the story.  The day ends with crickets and the moon that “Hang(s) in the darkness,” and “Dazzle(s) the night.”

A quiet book that brings awareness to, explores, and expands in detail the many things in a child’s day.

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