Friday, December 9, 2016

Animal books for young readers

Today's reviews highlight a couple of fun series that National Geographic Kids publishes for young reader.

"Explore my world" is a series  aimed at curious preschoolers.  There are a bunch out there featuring frogs, baby animals, koalas... and this one:

Tigers
by Jill Esbaum
32 pages; ages 3-7
NGK, 2016.

Here's how it begins:
"A tiger! She prowls the steamy jungle on padded paws. This tiger is hungry. Stay hidden, buffalo. Watch out, wild pigs."

Simple language tells about a tiger's life. Active words in large type begin each topic. For example, "Chase!" for tiger on the hunt, and "Cuddle" for a description of how mama tiger cares for her cups. Facts are highlighted in "circle" text boxes scattered throughout the book, and every page is illustrated with high-quality photos.

I also like the interactive pages. There's a spread that compares tigers and house cats. A big difference: tigers enjoy swimming and pet cats usually don't! Another spread illustrates similarities between tigers and house cats. And there's a matching game at the end.

 Chapters: Together forever! True stories of amazing animal friendships.
by Mary Quattlebaum
112 pages; ages 7 - 10
NGK, 2016

"Chapters" are a series of chapter books about animals and the people who love them. Each book has three stories, and each story has three chapters ... plus a sneak preview of a future book.

One story in this book is about Penny and Roo. Penny is a chicken; Roo is a dog - a dog on wheels. They work at an animal hospital, welcoming animal patients and their owners. The story tells how they met, and why Roo has wheels.

Another story is about Mr. G and Jellybean. One is a goat and one a donkey. If you guessed that Mr. G is the goat, you're right! They live in an animal sanctuary that provides abused or abandoned farm animals a better life. When Mr. G and Jellybean team up, they create a better life for both of them.

Siri, a cheetah cub, lives in a zoo. Her best friend is Iris, a black lab puppy. Did you notice that Iris is "Siri" spelled backwards? Wait! A cat and a dog as buddies? You bet! Even as they grow older they remain friends. Sprinkled throughout the book are plenty of sidebars with additional information about things like whether goats really eat trash and how fast cheetahs can run. Readers will also find small boxes with facts throughout each story.

 Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copies provided by publisher.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wild Outdoor Wednesday



Go on a shadow hike. Watch what happens to your shadow as you walk towards it and away from it. What shadows do you see that are made by natural things? Capture them in colors and words.

Remember to take your sketchbook or journal with unlined pages, something to draw and write with, and something to add color ~ watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Octopus Escapes Again!

Octopus Escapes Again!
by Laurie Ellen Angus
32 pages, ages 4-10
Dawn Publications, 2016

theme: animals, nonfiction

Octopus is very hungry. She peeks to the right. Peeks to the left. And dashes from her den into the deep, dark sea.
Will she eat today?
Or be eaten?

When a turtle spies Octopus, Octopus squeezes into a shell. Threatened by an eel, Octopus releases her "secret weapon" - a cloud of dark ink.

What I like about this book: It's a fun look at a predator on the hunt, but one who must also escape predation. Laurie Angus shows us many ways Octopus escapes.

I like the layered text: large text tells the story of Octopus's journey. Smaller, italicized text goes into detail about the particular adaptation Octopus uses, from ink to jet propulsion to camouflage.

I LOVE the back matter. There is a section called "Explore More for Kids", with more info about the Octopus, and tasty tidbits about her prey  - and predators. Plus a warning to never wrestle with an Octopus. There's even more stuff for teachers and parents: a story about Laurie's first encounter with an octopus and some activities.

Beyond the book:

Visit an octopus. If you live near an aquarium that has an octopus, go visit it. Take your sketchbook and colored pencils and draw the octopus. Observe how it moves and whether it changes color.

An Engineering Challenge (from the back of the book): choose one of the octopus's abilities and create and invention that will help solve a human problem.

Where's the Octopus? Check out this video from Science Friday.

Here are a couple of videos about octopuses escaping. This one shows how even a huge octopus can squeeze through very small spaces. This one shows an octopus escaping from a jar.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. We're also joining PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy from publisher.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wild Outdoor Wednesday



Look for galls on goldenrod stems and other plants. Take a close look; cut them open to see what’s inside. Record what you see in color and word.

Remember to take your sketchbook or journal with unlined pages, something to draw and write with, and something to add color ~ watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers.