Archive for March 20, 2014


Written by Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris

Buy on Amazon

While there are many books about dolphins on the market, this one was designed and written with the beginning reader in mind. It features heavy, glossy pages that will withstand multiple readings. It uses varying degrees of font size and shading to help the young reader focus on one set of text at a time. Each item of information is only one sentence long, and thus easy for the student to grasp. Each item is also illustrated directly below or beside the text with clear photographs.

This marvelous introduction to dolphins compares their needs to the needs children will understand. It compares the blowhole to breathing through the mouth, and tells children that a dolphin can be a sleepyhead, but not really sleep. A dolphin can “stand” by flipping its tail back and forth really fast.

Readers learn how dolphins: touch, eat, play and get along with one another. At the very end of the book, one page talks about how dolphins interact with people. The book concludes with a student friendly glossary and index.

Literacy skills are prominent in the design of this book that is also a perfect match for core curriculum standards in science and marine life. It will be a wonderful addition to any library, classroom or home collection and is part of the Scholastic series discover more.


  • DolphinsTitle: Dolphins
  • Author: Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris
  • Illustrator: (Live Photography)
  • Publisher: Scholastic, 2014
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-62738-2
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Animals, Dolphins
  • Grade Level 1 and 2 (Beginning Readers)
  • Extras: Free digital book with code from hardcover book, glossary, index

Stripes of All Types / Rayas de todas las tallas

Written and Illustrated by Susan Stockdale

Buy on Amazon

Where can you find striped animals?

Prowling the prairie / rondando por las praderas
Perched on a peak / y encaramadas en altas cumbers.
Crawling on cactus / Caminando sobre el cactus
And camped by a creek / y echadas junto al arroyo.

This English/Spanish bilingual edition is the latest offering from the author. Using minimal text, the book covers a variety of striped mammals, insects, and aquatic creatures posing in their natural habitat. We see ring-tailed lemurs drink from rivers, poison frogs propped on logs, zebra moray eels twist in the sand, and a tabby cat curled in a child’s arms. Stockdale never names the animals, but their identity is revealed in the back pages along with the answers to why animals have stripes (one or two sentences of information are provided for each animal). Readers will also enjoy guessing which stripe belongs to which animal in a memory matching game.

In the classroom, this informational book could be used in both science and literature lessons. It’s a great introduction to patterns, animal markings, and camouflage, while the short rhyming text uses alliteration to enhance the literary skills of young readers. Stockdale’s illustrations are sure to mesmerize a first grade audience. Using bold colors and thick lines, her acrylic artwork really pops off the page.

Visit the authors website for more information and other nature titles:

  •  Stripes of all typesTitle: Stripes of All Types / Rayas de todas las tallas
  • Author/Illustrator: Susan Stockdale
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-793-9
  • Genre: Picture Book, Nature, Science

About Birds: A Guide for Children

Written by Cathryn Sill
Illustrated by John Sill

Buy on Amazon

This beautiful little book packs a lot into a very few words and pictures. It allows first graders and older to see common birds (cardinal, American robin) up close and to learn about birds in other parts of the world (common murre, magnificent hummingbird). It is a valuable introduction to the English/Spanish bilingual world. And it contains a wealth of information for those who want to know more. As a read aloud or for independent study, this volume of the “About” series provides a solid basis for comprehension of nature and conservation plus a boost to literacy skills.

It is presented as a picture book with a short sentence for each bird, translated into Spanish. e.g., “Some birds build nests on the ground. / Algunos párajos hacen sus nido en la tierra.” is followed by a realistic painting of an ovenbird and its nest. The afterword has longer explanations of each picture, a glossary, and bibliography with books and websites.

Detailed and realistic illustrations make the reader feel like they have actually seen the birds. As birds move fast and are shy of humans, it helps children to recognize our feathered friends.

  • About BirdsTitle: About Birds: A Guide for Children
  • Author: Cathryn Sill
  • Illustrator: John Sill
  • Publisher: Peachtree  Publishers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, unpaged
  • Genre: Nonfiction, nature, bilingual
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-783-0

Lost for Words

Written and Illustrated by Natalie Russell

Buy on Amazon

When Tapir opens up his brand new notebook, the blank pages stare back at him. He can’t think of a thing to write. His friends, however, don’t have that problem; words flow out of them like water: Giraffe writes poems, Hippo writes about his adventures, and Flamingo composes songs. Tapir feels very jealous.

Hoping to draft off their creativity, Tapir imitates them: he chews on leaves like Giraffe, he wallows in mud like Hippo, and he hums like Flamingo. But the words still don’t come. Frustrated, he finds a quiet place on top of a hill. Looking down at the beautiful scenery, he’s inspired to draw what he sees: a tall tree for Giraffe, a river for Hippo, and a sun for Flamingo. Before long, he has filled his entire notebook with colorful drawings. His friends love his creations so much they are moved to tears. Tapir learns that images can be just as powerful as words.

With bookshelves crowded with cat and pig main characters, it’s refreshing to see a less familiar creature like Tapir take center stage. In this tale of individuality and finding one’s creative spark, first graders will connect with the story’s message; they, too, must feel frustrated sometimes as they learn how to write. Warm colors and soft lines give Russell’s childlike illustrations a soothing feel. Recommended as a bedtime story or a classroom read aloud.

  • Lost for WordsTitle: Lost for Words
  • Author/Illustrator: Natalie Russell
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-739-7
  • Genre: Picture Book, Fiction, Art


Written and illustrated by Lori Nichols

Buy on Amazon

Even before Maple was born, her parents planted a namesake tree for her. How very beautiful, and yet simply, this book begins. Starting out this way, in the book and in the little girl’s life proves without a doubt how much she is wanted and loved.

Her backyard tree is her best friend. The whimsical watercolors give this book a welcoming feeling. And Maple is welcomed by her tree, even when she is too loud to stay in the house.

The story continues on with surprising twists on an old theme. There will be a new baby in the house, but first there is a new tree in the yard.

Young readers and listeners will enjoy knowing what comes next without anyone needing to tell them.

Maple is a wonderful big sister. She shares her tree with her sister when she needs cheering up as well as her favorite stuffed toys.

This lovely picture book shows the passing of the seasons and the changes in the tree.

It will be a welcome book to first grade readers and will be an asset to the core curriculum in its depiction of nature and the child’s interaction with the environment. The literacy skills enhanced include sequencing, foreshadowing and picture clues.

  • MapleTitle: Maple
  • Author/ Illustrator: Lori Nichols
  • Publisher: Penguin, 2014
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, unpaged
  • ISBN:  978-0-399-16085-1
  • Genre: Fiction, nature, environment
  • Level: Beginning readers