Category Archives: Nature

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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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.

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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.

Guess Who, Haiku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess Who, Haiku
by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Bob Shea
Abrams Appleseed, 2016

A perfect introduction to haiku for preschoolers and kindergarteners!  Starting with introducing a cow, each haiku introduces a new animal common to young readers. Each haiku includes word clues and illustrations include picture clues.  The first haiku is:

new day on the farm
muffled mooing announces
a fresh pail of milk

The readers turn the page to discover (or confirm) the answer!  Then that animal recites the next haiku.  This simple-to-read and comprehensive format will help make learning about haiku fun and help first time haiku writers be brave enough to attempt their own haiku.  After a child has mastered Old MacDonald Had a Farm, this will follow beautifully to introduce them to poetry.

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The Cloud Artist, A Choctaw Tale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cloud Artist, A Choctaw Tale
by Sherri Maret, illustrated by Merisha Sequoia Clark
The RoadRunner Press, 2017

A Choctaw tale, told in both English and Choctaw languages, tells of a young girl gifted as a cloud artist, where she turns clouds into pictures.  With her gift Leona entertains her tribe. Then a circus promoter noticed the cloud art and asked Leona to make cloud art for the circus goers.  Her first day she happily shares art as it comes to her.  But by the second day, people started demanding for what they wanted to see, each demand becoming more and more outlandish.  Angry, she stops the art and leaves.   The next day she returns to give back the money given her and inform the promoter she will no longer do art for money.

Somehow a truth and honesty run through the story, where Leona listens to her heart to make her own decisions. And there’s a magic in a gift we don’t hear about, forming art in the clouds. The Choctaw show how they appreciate each person’s gift for what it gives to them in joy; money isn’t important. A refreshing tale.

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An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth
by Karlin Gray, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

Told in rhyme, from the point of view of the moth, we’re introduced to the world of moths.  While many fascinating moths are mentioned and illustrated, a boy becomes fascinated with an ‘ordinary’ brown moth. Enamored with the moth, the boy educates his younger sister on what makes the moth so special.  Soon both children and their mother love the moth.  The little ordinary moth takes pride that he’s someone’s favorite.  Children who think of themselves as ordinary will certainly relate to this endearing tale.

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Zoo Scientists to the Rescue

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue
by Patricia Newman, photographs by Annie Crawley
Millbrook Press, 2018

Written in kid-friendly terms, this book provides a fascinating, in-depth look at how zoo scientists are helping orangutans, black-footed ferrets and black rhinos, three animals on the Critically Endangered list.

Meredith Bastian studied orangutans in the field for several years, observing behaviors from the moment they woke, until they laid down to sleep. Her data has helped orangutans in both the wild and in zoos. She later worked at the Philadelphia Zo to integrate conservation into its operation.

Jeff Baughman helps manage the revival of the almost extinct black-footed ferret. In 1981 130 ferrets were discovered and Jeff is instrumental in expanding the population and returning it to the wild.

Rachel Santymire studied black rhinos in Africa to learn how to help them in zoos and in the field.  Rachel specializes in studying ‘poop’, which provides invaluable information about their lives.

The book also provides zoo history, conservation, and career information about zoo scientists.  The photos are outstanding and draw in both young and adult readers.

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If You Were the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Were the Moon
Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Jaime Kim
Millbrook Press, 2017

A quiet bedtime story that introduces all the things the moon does, like “Tease the Earth: peek-a-boo!” (no moon to full moon) and “Challenge the ocean to a tug-of-war.” (gravity) Each page explains how the moon ‘plays peek-a-boo and ‘tug-of-war’.  Personifying the moon, children will see the moon as their friend.  Adults will likely learn a little about the moon, too.

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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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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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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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