Zebra on the Go

Written by Jill Nogales

            Under the circus big top, the accident occurs. The zebra steps on the lion’s toe. The roaring lion scares the zebra who takes off out of the tent and all through the town.  Children will have fun trying to find the zebra hiding on the merry-go-round in an almost hidden picture kind of illustration.

            Lots of action, short bouncy rhyming phrases lead the parade through the town. By the time the lion starts sinking under the water, everyone knows who will save the day. The show that began in the circus tent ends at the wharf with the crowd applauding it all.

            Teachers, librarians and parents will love this read aloud, and soon will repeat it without ever turning the pages. Children will love pouring over the vibrant watercolors to study all the details and expressions.

           This story is sure to become a favorite in no time!

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  • Zebra on the GoTitle:  Zebra on the Go
  • Author:  Jill Nogales
  • Illustrator:  Lorraine Rocha
  • Publisher:  Peachtree Publishers, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-56145-911-7
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 3

Tide Pool Secrets

Written and Illustrated by Narelle Oliver

            Lift the flap books hold intrigue and joy for young readers sharing a couch with an older reader. This book will bring about giggles as well as maybe a screech or two. Some of the animals are a little surprising and seem to jump right out of the illustration.

            The watercolors are carefully matched to produce the camouflage used by dwellers in tide pools. Adding to the fun of the flaps is the almost hidden picture quality of the illustrations. Which, after all, is the point. But a point made while providing great fun as well as solid information to young readers.

            Kindergarten, grade one teachers, and librarians can use this book to introduce life in the oceans. Parents can use it as an introduction to the trip they are planning to the seashore. Curriculum standards will be met in literature, science, art, and differentiating between fact and fiction. It is a gem children will enjoy going through over, and over again to find the hidden animals. The flap is used wisely to show how the animal appears when it is in hiding versus how it looks when the coast is clear.

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  • Tide Pool SecretsTitle:  Tide Pool Secrets
  • Author/Illustrator:  Narelle Oliver
  • Publisher:  Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-7636-9159-2
  • Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
  • Grade level:  PreK to 2
  • Extras: End pages show detailed up close illustrations of the sea creatures from the main body of the book with more information about each.

Penguin Day: A Family Story

Written and Illustrated by Nic Bishop

Another penguin book? This, though, is `a story for our littlest people about how a penguin family spends its day. It is very matter-of-fact. First they do this, then they do that, which is exactly what young children wonder about. It is also what is used to teach sequencing and retelling a story in order. Teachers and librarians will use this to fulfill language arts standards, as well as for an enjoyable story time that may be doubling as an introduction to the next science unit.

Beautiful photographs illustrate what each sentence is saying. As it is a book with few words and large white font. Some will mistake it as a beginning reader. Not so. The words are multi-syllabic and not a beginning visual vocabulary. Thus, the suggested age range from preschool through grade three.

Parents can use it as a fun bedtime read leading into a discussion about the child’s own day.

It can be a good addition to any library or home collection, but not if you are overloaded with penguin books already.

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  •  Penguin DayTitle:  Penguin Day: A Family Story
  • Author/Illustrator: Nic Bishop
  • Publisher:  Scholastic, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-20636-5
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Grade level: PreK to 3
  • Extras: Author’s Note with more detailed science data

The Tree: An Environmental Fable

Written and Illustrated by Neal Layton

A tree is a home. A home for birds in their nest. A home for squirrels in their nest. A home for owls in their hollow. A home for rabbits in their burrow under the roots. Told in very simple language, the story is one that a first grader can easily read on their own. Of course, teachers and parents will want to read it with the kids the first time just to discuss all the implications.

Two humans decide to build a home at the location of a tree, not realizing that their plans would seriously disrupt or destroy the lives of many other creatures. When they come to that realization, they are able to find a way for everyone to live in harmony.

The Tree makes the idea of environmental responsibility personal. The humans in the story realize that the animals need their homes and might have emotions too. They do their best to fulfill their own needs while helping the animals and the tree itself. Sharing is the key, and kids can understand this.

This is heartwarming and beautiful book.  

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  • Title: The Tree: An Environmental Fable
  • Author/Illustrator: Neal Layton
  • Published: Candlewick Publishing, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Picture book, Nature, Creative nonfiction
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8952-0

Baby on Board: How Animals Carry Their Young

Written by Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Cathy Morrison

“Pick me up, pick me up,” our children say. Then as they get a bit older, they begin to carry around their own stuffed animals, dolls, or action figures. This leads in well to a discussion of animals and their babies. Teachers, parents and librarians can use this beautifully illustrated book of how animal babies are carried to introduce or supplement any animal unit of study. Close-ups of each animal pair make it easy to see how the baby is transported from one place to another. Young children will enjoy this immensely.

Short rhyming lines introduce each animal pair followed by a slightly more in-depth description. A glossary gives even more detail.

Following the narration, a matching game is provided as a culmination of the story. For teachers, there are several suggestions for cross-curricular activities in language arts, math, engineering and movement. There are also web links to provide additional activities.

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  • Baby on Board.jpgTitle:  Baby on Board: How Animals Carry Their Young
  • Author:  Marianne Berkes
  • Illustrator:  Cathy Morrison
  • Publisher:  Dawn Publications, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Paperback, 32 pages
  • Genre: nonfiction, science
  • Grade level: PreK to 3
  • ISBN:  978-1-58469-593-6
  • Extras: Teacher guidelines for use in language arts, math, engineering, movement and math. An extensive glossary, extended reading lists and web links. It also contains a matching game for young readers to complete after reading the book.

Fantastic Flowers

Written and Illustrated by Susan Stockdale

In most things we observe, it’s natural to compare the unfamiliar with the familiar. So it’s no surprise that flowers are often given names relating to other objects they resemble.  Beautiful illustrations point out these similarities with skill and humor. From ballerinas to hats to pocketbooks, the flowers come in all shapes. Dutchman’s breeches do in fact look like a pair of pants. The monkey orchid looks a lot like a monkey’s face. The red spider flower looks like a group of spiders. And the bumblebee orchid looks like a bumblebee. Stockdale uses lilting, rhyming language sure to draw in youngsters seeking to learn about the natural world. The Afterword further discusses the patterns and how they may help the plants survive, often to attract a pollinator. A photo of each flower shows how close the illustrations are to the real world. This unique and playful look at flowers will have kids looking for patterns in all sorts of other places.

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  • Title: Fantastic Flowers          
  • Author/Illustrator: Susan Stockdale
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Nature
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-952-0

How Santa Changed

Written by Karl Steam
Illustrated by Maksym Stasiuk

Do you think Santa Claus suddenly appeared one day just the way kids see him today? Is it possible he was once a skinny young man with a brown beard? Did he insist on making all the toys himself? Was his sleigh pulled by the largest moose, which fought for the privilege of pulling the sleigh? Was Mrs. Claus a terrible cook? Steam says all of this is possible in this charming, rhyming story. As Santa grew older, his beard whitened. As the world’s population grew, his sleigh got too heavy for one belligerent moose and the toys too numerous to make on Santa’s own. And Mrs. Claus learned to make delicious cookies as she read tips about baking, adding to Santa’s round belly.

Illustrated in rich colors, this is a wonderful read aloud for this time of the year, or actually for any time, as kids learn about working together and about how things become the way they are. Each spread shows details for kids to spot, such as a family portrait or the title of the book Mrs. Claus is reading. Steam’s website (https://www.karlsteam.com/) includes classroom resources.  

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  • how-santa-changedTitle: How Santa Changed                                   
  • Author: Karl Steam
  • Illustrator: Maksym Stasiuk
  • Published: Amazon Digital Services, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Kindle Edition, 38 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture Book, Christmas
  • ISBN: 978-163578-002-4
  • Extras: Classroom Resources (Discussion and Activities), Online Resources

Mr. Cookie Baker

Written and Illustrated by Monica Wellington

Wellington has a real talent for drawing kids into activities that also have a fun end-product. In this re-issued classic, kids learn all about cookies and where they come from. The lively illustrations make the process that much more fun.  Simple, bright pictures contain many, many details to spot and remember.

Behind a sign that tells the reader the bakery opens at 9 am, Mr. Baker is hard at work using his flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and salt. With his big bowl and spoon, measuring spoons and cups, mixer, and spatulas, he mixes his dough. He rolls, cuts, and shapes. He bakes the cookies in a bog oven. They smell delicious. With care, he decorates the cookies. A crowd of customers buy the fresh product. He hangs the closed sign and has a cookie himself.

From this, and books like it, kids will learn about the processes that affect the world around them. Most will delight in helping adults try the recipes in the book, decorating the cookies, and giving them the taste test.

The presented are: sugar cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal.

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  • mr-cookie-bakerTitle: Mr. Cookie Baker                           
  • Author/Illustrator: Monica Wellington
  • Published: Dutton Children’s Books, 2011
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Picture Book, Baking
  • ISBN: 978-0-525-47763-1
  • Extras: Four standard cookie recipes

Dinosaurs Don’t Have Bedtimes!

Written by Timothy Knapman
Illustrated by Nikki Dyson

Maybe dinosaurs don’t have bedtimes, but little boys do. And what are you going to do when your little one wants to pretend he’s a dinosaur and can do everything a dinosaur can? This adorable new book helps answer that question and more.

Dinosaurs don’t have dinnertimes, so they must get hungry. Dinosaurs love to make a terrible mess. They don’t have bath times, so they must have dirty ears. Dinosaurs don’t wear pajamas, so they must get very cold. Dinosaurs don’t play nicely. Dinosaurs don’t drink their milk. They don’t have bedtimes, but they do close their eyes and curl up and get a good-night kiss.

Sticking close to the dinosaur theme, Dyson packs a lot of action into the beautiful illustrations. Mo, the little boy, always wears dinosaur-themed clothes plus, often, dinosaur heads and paws. He’s always followed by his dog Rex and plenty of dinosaur toys. He even has a bandage on his knee.

Best as a read aloud, this can also be used by first graders for independent reading and increasing literacy skills.  

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  • dinosaurs-bedtimesTitle: Dinosaurs Don’t Have Bedtimes!               
  • Author: Timothy Knapman
  • Illustrator: Nikki Dyson
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture book, Bedtimes
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8927-8

We Found a Hat

Written by Jon Klassen

As usual, Klassen says a little in very few words. Two turtles find a hat. They find it together. It looks great on each of them, but there’s still only one hat. One hat. Two turtles. Not right. One turtle realizes the fair thing to do is leave the hat and forget about it. They walk away. The other turtle looks back with longing. Together, they enjoy a sunset. The first turtle claims to be thinking about the sunset. The second turtle says it’s thinking about nothing, but still looks back at the hat. It’s time to go to sleep. They discuss their dreams. The first turtle has a dream where each of them has a hat. The second turtle goes to sleep and dreams the same dream.

The stark nature of Klassen’s illustration gets the point across that this is a very simple message. Kids will probably note right away that one turtle has square markings, while the other has triangular markings. Simple, but different. They will see that friends share everything, possibly even dreams.

This would make a great read aloud to stimulate discussion of friendship and sharing. Independent reading would certainly reinforce literacy skills. There is a lot to love in this book.

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  • we-found-a-hatTitle: We Found a Hat
  • Author: Jon Klassen
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 56 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Picture book, Sharing, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-5600-3

 

 

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