Archive for October 28, 2019

My First Book of New York

Written and Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius

A big, big book for a big city. Filled with colorful and recognizable images, this is the story of present day New York. Of course, any reader could argue that it’s incomplete, given the enormity of the subject. But it does give the flavor of the City for those just beginning to learn her secrets. Each two-page spread explores a neighborhood with iconic items in colorful illustrations. Even the end papers show the chaos that is New York City.

The author begins with Brooklyn – the Bridge, Coney Island, a dog walker, a brownstone, etc. Then there’s Rockefeller Center with ice skating, the Rockettes, and MOMA. Other areas similarly explored are Chinatown (dim sum, cannoli, mah jongg), the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, Grand Central Terminal, Harlem, Museums, Queens, Central Park, Shopping, Statue of Liberty, the Bronx, Wall Street, and Times Square & Broadway.

Everything highlighted is something anyone, especially young readers, would notice when visiting New York. So this is a great place to start before any visit or when learning in depth about one of the most famous cities in the world.

  • My First Book of New YorkTitle: My First Book of New York
  • Author/Illustrator: Ingela P. Arrhenius
  • Published: Walker Books/Candlewick Press, 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Travel, Culture
  • ISBN: 978-0-5362-0990-7

Around the Table That Grandad Built

Written by Melanie Heuiser Hill
Illustrated by Jaime Kim

When the family gets together, they gather around the table that grandad built. All the items that go on the table have connections to family members. Cousins picked the flowers. Mom sewed the napkins. The glassware is from Mom & Dad’s wedding. The tableware is from a great grandmother. Squash from the garden. Gran-baked bread. Huckleberry jam made by Dad. Homemade pies. Love from all. And so on.

The first part of the story is written as a cumulative like the House that Jack Built. The ending, though, is written in poetic form. Very appealing and very fun and easy to follow. The striking acrylic illustrations draw readers in and let them know how fun a family can be.

This is a very diverse family – evidenced in part by the samosas and tamales served. But the author and illustrator show how everyone loves each other. A very tight family worth embracing.

  • Around the TableTitle: Around the Table That Grandad Built
  • Author: Melanie Heuiser Hill
  • Illustrator: Jaime Kim
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Family
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9784-6

Caterpillar and Bean

Written by Martin Jenkins
Illustrated by Hannah Tolson

This simple but effective story tells about exactly what the title implies – a caterpillar and a bean. A bean is lying in a crack in the ground. Gradually, it expands and its seed coat splits to reveal plant parts. They grow into a tall plant. At some point, an egg appears on a leaf. The egg also splits open to reveal a living creature – a caterpillar. It grows, feeding on bean plant leaves. Eventually, the caterpillar forms a chrysalis and the plant matures to produce actual beans. The chrysalis reveals a butterfly, looking for a place to lay eggs, and the new beans prepare to grow.

The story may seem simple, but there are very important concepts in learning about the cycle of life and also in the interdependence of plants and animals. Keeping with the theme of simplicity, the wonderful illustrations show exactly what is in the text, but give subtle clues such as the presence of a shovel and watering can. Other plants and insects are shown to avoid isolating the caterpillar and bean.

This could become a valuable resource for a kindergarten or first grade classroom.

  • Caterpillar and BeanTitle: Caterpillar and Bean
  • Author: Martin Jenkins
  • Illustrator: Hannah Tolson
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Biology, Life cycle
  • ISBN: 978-1-5362-0170-3

If You Played Hide-and-Seek With a Chameleon

Written Bill Wise
Illustrated by Rebecca Evans

Fun and witty, this adorable book highlights some facts about animals that set them apart from humans. Set up like a carnival with a game for each animal, it shows how the animal would always win the chosen game. The author chooses a pie eting contest for the hippopotamus, hide-and-seek for a chameleon, basketball for a giraffe, a long jump for a kangaroo, weight-lifting for an elephant, wrestling for an anaconda, a 100-meter dash for a cheetah, Twister for an octopus, tag for a porcupine, a staring contest for a shark, and a blind potato race for a bat. Then there’s a snail, which wins at laying a slime trail.

Wonderfully amusing illustrations complete the joy while kids learn. Each spread includes the blue-ribboned prior winner of the games and foreshadowing of the next animal contestant. Five kids compete with the animals and obviously have fun doing it.

The Explore More pages have lots of ideas for further learning. For teachers and parents, the lessons available are divided into science, technology, engineering, and math.

  • If You PlayedTitle: If You Played Hide-and-Seek With a Chameleon
  • Author: Bill Wise
  • Illustrator: Rebecca Evans
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to 4
  • Genre: Animals, Nature
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-651-3
  • Extras: Explore More for Kids, Explore More for Teachers and Parents