Books for the Curious Child

History Comes Alive!
As your child is figuring out how things came to be, spark a love of history in their hearts and share with him or her a book featuring great people or moments in history whose stories are still with us today. This collection includes one book written by a local, Sacramento-area author.

inventors secretThe Inventor’s Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt (Charlesbridge; Ages 6-10)

This delightful story starts when Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were curious boys who spent most of their time running experiments—and getting into trouble!  Thomas made explosions with chemistry experiments and, among other inventions, Henry built a dam and waterwheel and flooded a neighbor’s field.

Readers learn how Thomas and Henry came to meet as well as Thomas’ secret.  This book is filled with and snippets of information on several inventions.  A great introduction to two twentieth century men who changed the world. Action-filled illustrations in watercolor, ink, and pencil will fascinate curious minds.  The Inventor’s Secret was awarded the NSTA 2016 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12.

WinnieWinnie, The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh  by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss (Henry Holt and Company, Ages 4-8)

A must-read book for Winnie-the-Pooh lovers!  This book tells of how Winnie-the-Pooh came to be!  In the early 1900’s, a service veterinarian (for horses), discovered a small bear cub at a train station.  He named it Winnipeg.  When the vet was transferred to the front lines in World War I, Winnie moved to the London Zoo.  One day a special boy visited him—Christopher Robin!  It was his father, A.A. Milne, who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.  The art and the story are beautiful.  The book includes old photos of the real Winnie, Christopher Robin and author A.A. Milne.

rooseveltTo Dare Mighty Things, The Life of Theodore Roosevelt, by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by C.F. Payne (Disney*Hyperion Books, Ages 4-8)

Doreen Rappaport writes an inspiring story of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, our 26th president.  The biography focuses on the personal side of Roosevelt, how he chose to deal with being sickly and getting himself stronger, how he prepared himself for college and how he chose to approach his life with a thirst for a challenge.  Roosevelt entered politics to “help the people” and frequently went against the establishment to make things right.

C.F. Payne completes the story with stunning illustrations.  The illustrations alone invite you to open the book—so much so the title of the book is not even shown on the front cover, just an engaging illustration of Roosevelt!

paceThe Peace Tree from Hiroshima, The Little Bonsai with a Big Story, by Sandra Moore, illustrated by Kazumi Wilds (Tuttle Publishing; Ages 4-10)

Told from the point of view of the bonsai tree, we follow the three-hundred-year history of a small pine that is selected by a man and passed down from father to son.  At first the tree misses the gentle rain and monkeys squawking, but he soon grows to like his new home where he is watered and pruned and shaped into a bonsai tree.

The tree tells of the terrible thing that happened in 1945 when an atomic bomb exploded two miles from his house and how he felt like bowing, as his friend Masaru (his current caretaker) was unharmed.  In 1976, the tree is selected as a “Peace Tree” and becomes a gift to the United States for its 200th birthday.

An endearing story that beautifully introduces the history of the relationship between Japan and the United States. Reviewer’s pick of the month

noahNoah Webster and His Words, by Jeri Chase Ferris, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; Ages 6-10)

In the mid-1700’s Noah Webster was raised to be a farmer, but his mind took him different places—he loved words.  He became a scholar and studied words.  As a teacher, Noah wrote American’s first spelling book, the Blue-backed Speller.  Noah dreamed of creating America’s first dictionary and for twenty years read every book in libraries, including many in England and France, to discover and define every known word.  In 1828, Noah’s dream came true when the American Dictionary of the English Language was published.

A small bit of history written in a compelling story.   The ink, graphite and watercolor illustrations wrap the story in the 1700 and 1800’s, bringing it an authenticity and inviting readers into the story. Jeri Chase Ferris is a Sacramento-area author.

Animals in the Wild
Stories can introduce children to animals in the wild and develop in them a respect and understanding of the needs of animals in nature.  This collection of fiction, non-fiction, and poetic stories may expand a child’s world and help develop in them a life-long interest in nature.

panamaIs This Panama?  A Migration Story, by Jan Thornhill, illustrated by Soyeon Kim. (Owl Kids, Ages 4-8)

Sammy, a young Wilson Warbler discovers his friends have already left the Arctic Circle for Panama and starts out on his own for his ‘first’ migration.  Without the guidance of other warblers, he joins other birds, insects, and mammals to make his way to his winter home. He shares the trip with Sandhill Cranes, green darner dragonflies, Monarch Butterflies, whales, and others until he arrives.

Adults will love piecing together where young Sammy might be on his journey.  Children will learn that many creatures migrate each year.  An afterward shares the route and information on each traveler.  The ‘fine art’ illustrations are exquisite and will to be savored as much as the story.  Reviewers Pick of the Month

woodsOut of the Woods, A True Story of an Unforgettable Event, By Rebecca Bond. (Margaret Ferguson Books, Ages 4-8)

Antonio lived in Canada, where lumberjacks, miners, and trappers made their home.  One day smoke appeared in the forest and a bell sounded.  Fire!  Everyone headed for the lake.  Standing in the water, people watched flames roar through trees.  Soon animals arrived and they, too, entered the water to watch the flames.  Rabbits stood next to foxes, raccoons next to bears and moose next to people.  Animals and people stood next to each other until the fire burned itself out.

An amazing true story. The kind of book that enlightens children of how animals survive in natural disasters and one that inspires dreams in young minds.

nationalgeoNational Geographic Book of Animal Poetry:  200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!, edited by J. Patrick Lewis, U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate (National Geographic, Ages 4-8)

This book is perfect for every child’s library.  National Geographic’s gorgeous, powerful photos illustrate 200 classic and new poems about animals.  Even readers not usually interested in poetry, will pour over the photos and want to read the short poems that accompany them.

The book introduces children to animals, birds, insects, and fish from all over the world.  It features poets that specialize in nature poems, like Janet S. Wong; current children’s favorite poets like Jack Prelutsky and J. Patrick Lewis; as well as writers of the classics, including Emily Dickinson and Rudyard Kipling.  It also includes information on writing poems, featuring Shape Poems, Haiku, and Limericks.

wolfWhispers of the Wolf, by Pauline Ts’o.  (Wisdom Tales, Ages 6-8)

Whispers of the Wolf quietly, deeply engulfs the reader.  Supported with wind-swept pastel illustrations the reader virtually experiences the boy’s emotions of finding and raising a wolf.

Two Birds, a quiet Pueblo boy, discovers and cares for an abandoned wolf pup.  As the pup grows, Two Birds becomes adept at hunting rabbits to feed the animal.  When it Is finally big enough, he takes the wolf hunting with him.  The boy shares with the village boys stories he heard from the wolf and new ways to hunt rabbits. When the day comes that the wolf wants to follow the other wolves, Two Birds must decide between keeping the wolf or setting him free.  A poignant, turning-of-age story.

61NriCj2FOL._SL250_Hungry Coyote, by Cheryl Blackford, illustrated by Laurie Caple. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, Ages 6-8)

Hungry Coyote addresses the trend of coyotes living in or near urban areas.

Written in a rich, poetic voice that speaks of survival and illustrated with winter’s freezing details, readers enter a winter land and sense the tough times wildlife has, in particular, the coyote.  But the coyote is smart and a survivor and uses its ability to adapt to its environment.  The book shows how the coyote has learned to live invisibly alongside human dwellers in urban areas.  The author includes information about ‘city coyotes’ and what to do if one is encountered.  Highly recommended book for animal lovers.

Having a friend and being a friend means everything to children.  When toddlers, making friends comes easily, but as children develop, they begin to make choices and learn life-long values. This collection of stories explores the values of being a good friend.

ellaElla and Penguin Stick Together, by Megan Maynor, illustrated by Rosalinde Bennet (HarperCollins Children’s Books, ages 4-8)

Ella shares with Penguin her new special stickers.  Trying to guess what’s special, Penguin asks, “Are they smelly?  Can you eat them?  Do they talk?”  Ella says they glow in the dark, but, together, they stare at a closet door, too afraid of the dark to open it…and so the suspense begins.  Together they try many semi-dark areas until they realize the only option is the dark in the closet.  Pretending she is brave, for Penguin’s sake, Ella baby-steps into the closet, and calls out to Penguin to come in.  Each page is full of BIG emotions or FUN surprises as these friends explore their world and test their mettle.  Readers will easily become friends with Ella and Penguin.   Reviewer’s Pick of the Month

monkeyThe Monkey and the Bee, by C. P. Bloom, illustrated by Peter Raymundo (Abrams Books for Young Readers, ages 3-8)

Written with only twelve different words, The Monkey and the Bee tells a humorous friendship story.   It’s bold, action-filled illustrations show the rest of the story so even the youngest can follow along, and will likely soon be ‘reading’ the book to the parents!

A monkey opens wide for his first bite of a banana, when a bee lands on it.  Monkey flicks him away.  Mad, the bee dives into the banana just as the monkey takes that first bite.  Monkey spits out the bee.  When a lion appears and chases after the monkey, the bee threatens the lion with his stinger.  Monkey offers the bee a banana in thanks and they soon become friends.

maggieMy Friend Maggie, by Hannah E. Harrison (Dial Books for Young Readers, ages 4-8)

Author/artist Hannah E. Harrison tells a big story about peer pressure and friendship.

Maggie and Paula have been friends since forever.  One day, Veronica points out that Maggie is too big.  Paula remembers how clumsy Maggie can sometimes be, how she stinks at hide-and-seek, and how her clothes are a bit snuggish.  While Paula knows she should stick up for Maggie, she deserts Maggie and hangs out with Veronica.  But when Veronica starts calling Paula ‘Bucky,’ guess who charges up to defend her?  The joyfully rendered character illustrations show it all and children will intuitively learn what true friendship is about.  Illustrated in bright, welcoming colors, My Friend Maggie sings of the happy feelings of being a good friend.

bear&bunnyBear and Bunny, by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand (Candlewick Press, ages 2-5)

Bear and Bunny are friends.  Bear thinks Bunny is a little bear.  Bunny thinks Bear is a big bunny.  They delight in exploring their world and sing songs together.  After their naps, they wonder why they don’t have a pet.  They discuss what a pet is and think about what pet they would like.  After a lot of thinking, they take another nap.  When they wake, they see something up in the tree.  The animal goes, “Croak!” and they climb the tree to take home their new pet, a kitty. Rendered in mixed media, each scene is filled with clever extras to delight the mind and endearing expressions that move the heart.

A quiet, yet humorous, book about friends, perfect for bedtime.

TwoBlankets1My Two Blankets, by Irena Kobald, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, Ages 4-8)

A young girl from Sudan moves to Australia where everything looks different, everyone dresses different and everyone talks different.  She feels she is in a “waterfall of strange sounds”.  By the end of the day she wants to be alone with her comforting blanket of familiar words.  At a park a new girl befriends her and slowly introduces new words to her.  Over time the new girl creates a new blanket of new words until she has two blankets.

Beautifully illustrated, the artist, uses warm colors to show the feelings of the girl’s home country and cool colors to represent the new county.