Monthly Archives: July 2018

Eavesdropping on Elephants, How Listening Helps Conservation

Eavesdropping on Elephants, How Listening Helps Conservation
by Patricia Newman
Millbrook Press, 2018

Patricia Newman has done it again.  She’s written another compelling science story, this time on elephants. A must read for elephant lovers.

The story opens in a tropical forest in Central African Republic where readers learn the many ways in which elephants are “a keystone species…that helps the forest flourish.”  Readers also learn about an elephant’s “infrasound”, communication so low it is not detectible by humans.  And they learn about forest elephants’ behaviors, through studies conducted over decades. Exploring the difficulties scientists faced, Patricia invites readers to almost participate in the thinking used to resolve challenges experienced while learning about elephant culture.  Readers are invited to walk through science technology used, hypothesis set and studies that led to strategies to help save elephants. Readers learn to think like a scientist.

The book also includes several QR codes readers can use to help readers practice their elephant-sound identifying skills, watch a rarely seen birthing celebration, and watch a standoff between two male elephants.

The book is sure to inspire in many readers a passion for elephants as well as a deep curiosity and appreciation about the science of studying animals in the wild.

Ms. Newman’s 2017 book, Sea Otter Heroes, The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem, received the Sibert Informational Honor Award for Non-Fiction, an honor rarely given to science books.

Read more reviews and order on Amazon.

Kaya’s Heart Song

Kaya’s Heart Song  
by Diwa Tharan Sanders, illustrated by Nerina Canzi
Lantana Publishing, 2018

Fascinated with her mama’s singing, Kaya learns that, like her Mama, she has a heart song. On her way out to play, she follows a butterfly that takes her where she’s never been before.  She sees a friend guarding a door.  Behind the door is a carousel of elephants.  Wanting to ride them, Kaya pulls vines from the elephants and begins to hear her heart song and her dream soon comes true.

This is a mystical, magical, musical story that tugs heartstrings, sings to ears and encourages the reader to listen for her own heart song, knowing that with a heart song, anything can happen.

Illustrations in (healing) green with bright spots of color portray a mystical place in Malaysia where magic can happen. Back matter introduces the practice of mindfulness where, when the mind quiets and becomes still, it leaves room for awareness to move in. It encourages living in the present moment.

Read more reviews and order on Amazon.

Dr. Seuss’s 100 First Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss’s 100 First Words
Random House Children’s Books

Using Dr. Suess’s playful, whimsical illustrations, Random House has created for infants and toddlers a giant board book of first words for soon-to-be readers.  It’s a treat for parents—even grandparents—raised on Dr. Suess and great preparation for a child’s future learning and reading lessons with stories that include Suess’s loveable characters.  From wild animals and farm animals to bath time and bedtime, the book invites learning, as do all of Dr Suess’s books.  A delight for all.

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W is for Welcome, A Celebration of American’s Diversity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

W is for Welcome, A Celebration of American’s Diversity
by Brad Herzog
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

Author Brad Herzog shares how people immigrate to the US and highlights accomplishments of naturalized citizens, introducing immigration refugees, and naturalization. Each letter introduces ideas including: cultures, diversity, freedom and journey. Many immigrants are highlighted, like Einstein, Carnegie, and Muir.  The book is truly packed with a broad collection of how America was formed with people from many countries. Great for the classroom, and perfect for parents to open many discussions about America’s diversity.

Read more reviews and order on Amazon.

Moon

Moon
by Alison Oliver
Clarion Books, 2018

Living a frenzied life, Moon wonders what it would be like if she were free (from homework, lessons, practice, cleaning, etc.)  That night she saw a shooting star and went outside to look for more.  She found paw prints that were strange, exciting and wild. A furry creature stared at her—a wolf.  She crawled on its back and ran through the forest.  She learned to pounce, play, howl and she learned to be still, listen and feel. She learned to be wild. Though she returned home, she took her wolfy ways with her and remained happy.

Moon brings a sweet taste of wildness and a fantasy break from a child’s hectic day. Readers will learn how one girl became one with the wolf and her (wild) ways, suggesting they, too, can find their inner wildness.

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Hoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep

Hoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep
by Leslie Helakoski
Sterling Children’s Books, 2017

During a storm, eggs of owl and duck tumble away from their nests.  The mothers find their lost egg and return them to their nests, but there’s a mix up.  Owl is born with ducks and world is topsy turvy—and those ducks sleep all night!  Duck is born with owls and does not take to fur and bones for dinner!  Rendered in rich, bold, layered pastels on sanded paper the characters jump off the page.  Written in terse, rhyming verse it’s a delight to the ears.

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Izzy Gizmo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Izzy Gizmo
by Pip Jones, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Peachtree, 2017

A rhyming delight, we follow Izzy Gizmo through her imaginative inventions, some that work and some that don’t!  She gives up when one fizzles, until her Grandpa encourages her to try again.  Izzy thinks about it…until a crow falls and breaks his wing and she takes him to the vet.  The vet suggests she help the crow adjust to living on the ground. She invents all sorts of contraptions to keep the crow happy, but what the crow really wanted, was to fly.  Again, after a series of mishaps and almost giving up, she comes up with a way for the crow to fly.  Before you know it a long line of things needing mending appear and Izzy is happy.

Bright, splashy colors of gidgets and gadgets will fascinate young minds.

Read more reviews and order on Amazon.

Tree by Melina Sempill Watts


Tree
by Melina Sempill Watts
Change the World Books, 2017

I loved this book, it consumed my imagination.  Tree starts out as an acorn and grows to be nearly 250 years old.  We share in the tree’s experience as Indian cultures are replaced with Mexican and eventually Caucasian cultures.  The reader also experiences how Tree learns to connect and communicate with the environment around it; its in these connections that we learn the science.

Ms Watts knows her science and writes this fictional piece in layman’s terms to describe the science.  She packs so much into each section, it’s what I would call very dense writing, but when I got done I felt so connected to the story, to the character, and to the science of it.  It’s an eye and heart opening story.  (Written for adults, although teens may find it fascinating as well.)

Ms. Watt attended UCLA and worked 14 years as a Watershed Coordinator in the area where the story takes place.  Visit Ms Watt’s youtube interview (https://youtu.be/tUx3twJDisQ) to meet her and share in her enthusiasm about the story.  Anyone with an affinity to trees or interest in the environment will find the story fascinating and inspiring.

You can read more reviews and order on Amazon.

Kirkus Reviews gave Tree a 5 Star review:

…. The saga of Tree becomes a window into the immensity of nature, simultaneously dynamic and everlasting, and the ways that humans have come to upset the ancient balance. Watts writes in an elegant, highly detailed prose that shows an incredible knack for chronicling the minutiae of the natural world. …    An ingenious and satisfying tale about a single live oak. … Read complete review at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/melina-sempill-watts/treeT/

Book Summary

Tree is a novel about a tree written from a unique point of view: the chief narrator is a tree. Tree uses magical realism as a key to access the interrelated emotional realities of the many species that share one pristine valley in Topanga, California. Grass, birds, other trees and animals come to life on the pages, while one 19th century Mexican woman and one 20th century school boy, hearts opened by grief and loneliness, come to know one California live oak whose 229 years span the evolution of four human civilizations, Chumash, Spanish/Mexican, Yankee and new money Hollywood, which each leave their mark upon the landscape and upon Tree. The author’s obsessive botanical, scientific and historical research give substance to a world that feels both as real as last weekend’s dust on hiking boots and as mind altering as a fully fledged mystical experience. Take a journey into the heart of the woods where every plant shines Tree will change how you see nature.

The Day I Ran Away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day I Ran Away
by Holly L. Niner, illustrated by Isabella Ongaro
Flash Light Press, 2017

At bedtime, Gloria tells her Daddy her story of why and how she ran away that day.  She ‘had’ to run away because her purple shirt was dirty and she had to wear a white one and her favorite cereal was all gone.  Serious matters for the very youngest.  When she threw a temper tantum, she ended up in her room on time out. When she colored her white shirt purple, mom was furious and that’s when she decided to run away. When she announced she was leaving, her mom packed her a lunch. But when she got to the street, she remembered she was not allowed to cross it.  Fortunately, her mom had an idea.

This cleverly told story truly captures a little one’s thoughts. On each spread, illustrator Isabella Ongaro shows a patient father listening to his daughter’s woes and a loving mother setting limits while at the same time guiding her daughter towards resolutions.

Read more reviews and order on Amazon.

Mela and the Elephant

Mela and the Elephant
Dow Phumiruk, illustrated by Ziyue Chen
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

An adventurous young Mela leaves behind her brother, for he has nothing to trade her, and borrows her uncle’s boat to chase a fish down river. Soon she is too far down and cannot row up the swift waters. She offers an alligator her fish, if he would return her to the village. She tosses him the fish and he swims away. She attempts to trade with other animals and is soon left with nothing to trade, alone and lost. An elephant offers to take her home, with nothing in trade.  Mela learns kindness is its own reward.

Concludes with a bit of a ‘preachy’ ending, but great for discussion.  Illustrator Ziyue Chen engages young readers into the story when she captures facial expressions of an independent and brave Mela on her adventure.

Read more reviews and order on Amazon.