Category Archives: Animal

There, There

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There, There
by Tim Beiser, illustrated by Bill Slavin
Tundra Books, 2017

As half the work of a picture book is the illustrations, this book’s textured, rich acrylic pictures, kept me turning the pages, again and again.  I was not familiar with Bill Slavin‘s books, but I’m reading them now.  A Canadian artist, he’s won numerous awards.

The text, written in well-done rhyme also pulled me in.  The story features a whiney rabbit who complains of just about everything, and a patient bear who accepts his friend’s quirks up to a point.  Tired of all his complaining, he marches his friend out and show’s him an earthworm who spends all his time in dirt, has no arms or legs and gets happy when he mistakes his own rear end for a friend!  Fortunately, rabbit gets it, and suddenly the day turns warm.  But the worm, tossed into the dirt was insulted!  The story ends on a humorous note in perfect rhyme.

A fresh story with a good lesson.

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Plankton is Pushy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plankton is Pushy
by Jonathan Fenske
Scholastic Press, 2017

Humor and tension run high in this story when Plankton tries to strike up a conversation with Mussel.  Mussel gives no reply.  Plankton considers this behavior just plain rude and proceeds to explain to Mussel how social rules are when someone says hi.  He gives Mussel another chance, but still no response from Mussel.  First Plankton gets angry, then he gets desperate and begs Mussel to speak.  The clam begins to open his shell, and Plankton gets excited that he is about to speak and leans in closer.  And closer, until, you guessed it—Snap!  Find out what Plankton thinks about Mussel.

While this shtick has been played out in many different scenarios, it remains funny in this sea world adventure.  Award winning author and illustrator Jonathan Fenske uses contrasts to the delight of readers in this story.  A small, salmon-colored plankton trying to push around a large, gray mussel clam sets the stage. The very emotional plankton moves up and down, forth and back, while the stoic mussel that just sits on the ocean bed.  A fun read.

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The Blue Whale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blue Whale
by Jenni Desmond
Enchanted Lion Books, 2015

This is a perfect ‘boys’ book that, with a kid-voice of awe and excitement, introduces the greatest mammal on earth, the blue whale.  Readers learn a whale’s heart is the size of a small car, about 1,300 pounds and its tongue is three tons!  They learn 50 people could fit inside a whale’s mouth.  While a whale eats 35 million krill a day, its throat is only as wide as a grapefruit.  The illustrations cleverly show all the whale details throughout the story and features ‘whales’ wherever possible, like the kitchen table is shaped like a whale.  They even get a geography lesson thrown in.  Targeted for the 4-7 year old, they will have fun reading it over and over to learn about the gigantic whale.

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A Symphony of Cowbells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Symphony of Cowbells
by Heather Preusser, Illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen
Sleeping Bear Press, 2017

Through heartwarming, Swiss-style illustrations and lots of clanging and jangling, readers take a trip to the Swiss Mountains.  This is best appreciated when read aloud.

Petra’s favorite cow, Elfi, wore the most booming brass bell of all the cows, but one morning the brass bell was missing.  To stay on their schedule of moving the herd to spring pastures, the family decided Elfi would have to do without, but Elfi wanted nothing to do with that idea and wouldn’t budge.  The family found a small bell, which Elfi snorted at. Without the big brass bell, the herd was “out of tune” and the entire herd would not move!  Petra had to find the big bell.  The next day she noticed a crow carrying a shiny object.  Figuring this was a clue, she chased down the crow.  Unable to reach the crow’s nest, she enlisted the help of family and neighbors and, indeed, there was the bell, along with many other missing items!  With the herd in harmony again, they moved up to the spring pastures.

The illustrations join the words to make a great family read aloud.

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The Fox Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fox Wish
by Kimiko Aman, illustrated by Komako Sakai
Chronicle Books, 2017
Originally published in Japan

This favorite story originally published in Japan, delights the imagination and tickles the heart. A ‘what if’ story in a world where children and animals understand each other.

A young girl and her toddler brother forget their jump rope at the park. When they return to find it, their jump rope isn’t where they left it.  When they hear laughter, they follow it and come upon a pack of young foxes jumping with their rope.  The foxes jumped well, but their tails got in their way and they kept falling.  While the young girl knew it was not polite to laugh, the toddler giggled.  The foxes heard them and the two came out of hiding. Soon they were all jumping.  But who would take the jump rope home?  Roxie, who left it at the park, or Roxy who found it?  Enjoy the emotions shared in this imaginary encounter with a pack of playful foxes.  The soothing and almost whimsical illustrations rendered in acrylic gouache, oil pencil and ballpoint pen capture the foxes’ personified emotions.  A story and art for the heart.

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My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis
by Paul Meisel
Holiday House, 2017

Through a cleverly written journal by P. Mantis, we follow his life.  From the day he was born, May 17, to the time he leaves his short life, October 17.  We meet his 150 brothers and sisters who devour plants and are devoured by birds.  P Mantis pretends to be a stick and survives attacks by his predators.  He loves summer and shares his escapades, but then fall arrives and he beings to move more slowly.  He returns to where he was born and lays eggs, which will be born next spring.  The story gently closes, with “I’m going to lie down now and take a long nap.  Good-bye!”

Mantis’ voice is upbeat and kid-like so early readers can follow along and see P. Mantis’ life through P. Mantis’ eyes. A great way to introduce children to a single insect’s life cycle. On the inside pages, adults will find more details about P. Mantis’, including websites.

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Chee-Kee, A Panda in Bearland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chee-Kee, A Panda in Bearland
by Sujean Rim
Little, Brown and Company

Chee-Kee is fresh, clear and true.  In simple words and drawings, we follow the Loo family of Pandas who arrive at Bearland, looking and living very differently from the bears of Bearland.  Chee-Kee, the young son, notices the differences and feels uncomfortable.  He tries to change to be less noticeable, but that doesn’t work.  He stays alone, until one day a soccer ball gets stuck in a tree.  Immediately Chee-Kee begins fashioning a bamboo pole, vaulting up to knock down the ball.  Everyone cheers and from then on, the Loo family members fit in just fine and the bears take on new activities brought over by the Loo family.

While this story could be ‘cheesy’, it isn’t. The drawings and story support each other to make it work.  The pole vaulting gives a nod to the author’s father who played in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics.  There is a richness to the story that seems to come from living through this kind of experience.  Cheers to author/illustrator Sujean Rim for crafting this wonderful story.

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Everyone is Yawning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone is Yawning
by Anita Bijsterbosch
Clavis, 2016
Originally published in Belgium/ the Netherlands.

A perfect bedtime story for the youngest readers, this book makes everyone yawn!

On each page is an animal who is tired.  On the first page, a large kitten smiles at the reader.  When the words say, “Look, the kitten is yawning,” the reader lifts the flap on the kitten’s face and sees the kitten yawn.  And so it goes with a raccoon, hippo, crocodile and more. The story ends with a pile of sleeping animals, including the child. Featuring scary animals, like a snake, and introducing new animals, like an artic fox, Everyone is Yawning and its yawning flaps, will entertain young ones for hours—or at least until they fall asleep.

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One Happy Tiger

One Happy Tiger
by Catherine Rayner
Tiger Tales, 2017

A hard-bound, toddler-proof, beautifully illustrated counting book featuring a happy-to-be-alive tiger.  It’s so perfect, your toddler will want to carry it around and read it again and again.

The book begins with “One sad tiger sitting alone.”  Then the tiger meets two friends, “One thoughtful tiger and two bright bugs.”  As the tiger meets new friends or explores new items, we explore his feelings as we count to ten.  Award-winning artist Catherine Rayner’s illustrations capture the heart.  They are simple, relaxing on the eyes, and somehow exquisite. The tiger is friendly-looking and happy to meet and greet the world.  The book gently introduces insects, birds, feelings, and numbers.

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Little Wolf’s First Howling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Little Wolf’s First Howling

By Laura McGee Kvasnosky, illustrated by Kate Harvey McGee
Candlewick Press, 2017

It’s Little Wolf’s first night to howl, he can’t wait!  When Little Wolf, asks, “Can I howl now?”  Big Wolf suggests he listen to a demonstration.  So thrilled, Little Wolf takes a deep breath, lifts his muzzle and howls.  Little Wolf tries again, adding his own flavor to the howl, but Father says.  “It is not proper howling form.” Even though he knows it’s not proper form, Little Wolf lets loose with his own howl.  Although it is not correct, Big Wolf’s tail wags and ears twitch and he joins in with a howl like Little Wolf’s.

An endearing story of being patient when teaching a child new skills.  Filled with onomatopoeia, children will love the sounds and love the warm illustrations set in Yellowstone Park.

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