Friday, July 27, 2018

More Animal tales

A few weeks ago I visited the Toledo Zoo. I love zoos, and each one of them has something different to offer. My visit inspired me to share this trio of books.

Explore My World: Lions
by Amy Sky Koster
32 pages; ages 3-7 years
National Geographic Children's Books, 2018

Leap! Pounce! Play! Roar! That's what lion cubs do. Using simple language, this book gives readers an inside look at family life in a pride of lions. Mothers, daughters, and sisters team up to hunt big game. What's on the menu - zebra?

A lioness may be fierce, but she is a tender mother and teaches her cubs the things they need to know for survival. Back matter provides more information about adaptations, communication, and where lions live.

Oliver's Otter Phase
by Lisa Connors; illus. by Karen Jones
32 pages; ages 4-9
Arbordale, 2018

Oliver's otter phase began one morning after a trip to the aquarium.

At mealtime he tries to use his chest as a plate. That's what otters do. He tries to get dad to tie a string to him because mama otters tie their babies to pieces of kelp so they don't get lost.

Oliver tries out a lot of otter behaviors that don't make sense for kids, and one that does. A fun story for any kid who's wanted to be something more exciting than a ... kid - even if they would rather be a polar bear or eagle. Back matter includes a comparison chart for otters and humans (you can make one for the animal your kid wants to be), plus more otter info and a fun game.

What Do They Do with All That Poo?
by Jane Kurtz; illus. by Allison Black
40 pages; ages 3-8
Beach Lane Books, 2018

At zoo after zoo the animals chew.
And then ... they poo!

Lots of kids' books show what animals eat. This one shows what comes out the other end. From marble-like giraffe droppings to 165 pounds-a-day elephant plops, zoo animals create a lot of excrement.

But it's not all waste. Zoos send some of it to scientists who are studying animal diseases or chemical communication. Some zoos rake and turn the poop, packaging and selling it as a "poopular" compost product called zoo doo. Lion dung is used to repel deer, keeping them from eating plants. But my favorite: paper made from elephant manure.  

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundupOn any other Friday we'd be joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it's summer vacation. PPBF will resume in September, but you can always head over to Susanna Hill's ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies from publishers; What Do They Do with All That Poo? from Blue Slip Media .

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ pollinators

While out looking for bees, I came upon this guy. Not a bee at all - look closely and you notice that it has only one pair of wings. A flower fly. Look closer, and you see another, off to the right, caught in flight.

About a half hour later, tiny bees headed out on pollen-gathering trips.

There were a couple of butterflies and a hummingbird flitting about the area, too. What sort of pollinators visit the flowers in your yard and garden? Look closely. Take a photo if you can, and then see if you can find out what kinds of butterflies, bees, wasps, or flies are visiting the flowers in your neighborhood.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Animal books!

 Today ~ three books about animals from National Geographic Children's Books (2017).  What I like about them all is the wealth of bright, crisp photos, close-up views into animal worlds, and the language is accessible to children.

Hey Baby!
by Stephanie Drimmer
192 pages; ages 4-8

Who can resist photos of animal babies? With their too-long legs, waiting-to-grow-into feet, and cute round faces, they are irresistible!

This book is divided into sections based on habitats: mountain and plains babies, desert and coast babies, ocean and sea babies.... Each section features a dozen or more of the cutest, cuddliest babies ever. You get to know them through profiles, folk tales and fairy tales,  poems, and true-life stories. Plus there are fun facts scattered through the book.

 Explore My World Rain Forests
by Marfe Ferguson Delano
32 pages; ages 3-7

Another in this fun series for young readers. Short sections focus on different aspects of the rain forest, from colors to sounds. There are green leaves, electric blue butterflies, pink bugs. Another section focuses on the ways animals move. Snakes slither, tigers slink. And, of course, there is rain!

There's a map for kids who want to know where to find a rain forest, and a couple of activities that encourage kids to explore beyond the book.

Wild Cats
by Elizabeth Carney
32 pages; ages 4-6
This is aimed at kids who are beginning to read on their own, so I like that it begins with a table of contents. Each "chapter" is only a couple or so pages long and written in large-print, easy-to-understand language.

After an introduction to the cat family the reader gets a world tour of  wild cats; who lives where? A diagram of a cat "up close" shows how all cats are alike and there's a list of cool facts about wild cats. If you're into animal babies, there's an entire chapter devoted to "caring for cubs." The book ends with a chapter describing people who are working to protect cats and their habitats.

Review copies provided by publisher.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Flower Field Trip

Flowers are blooming everywhere - in the garden, in the yard, on the side of the road, down by the river side. Grab your sketch journal or camera and head out on a flower field trip. What do you see?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Books that help answer How and Why

Kids love to ask questions. Why is the sky blue? How does the car go? Here are two fun books from National Geographic Kids that help answer the plethora of questions we face every day.

How Things Work: Inside Out
by T. J. Resler
208 pages; ages 7-10. (2017)

I love NGK books, but sometimes they get buried beneath a stack of other "gotta reads". This book, published about 6 months ago, is a great place for kids to find inspiration and explanations. It features gizmos, gadgets, construction, auto engineering, and accidental inventions. Inside the pages you'll find the inside scoop on segways, self-driving cars, and sticky situations (think gecko glue). There are bios of engineers, scientists, inventors, and architects who dreamed big and - more importantly - didn't stop when they were told something was impossible. There are plenty of things to try, too. So make sure the kitchen junk drawer is well-stocked this summer and there's a place to invent.

Little Kids First Big Book of Why 2
by Jill Esbaum
128 pages; ages 4-8. (2018) 
 Want to know why you yawn, why bubbles are round, why birds sing, or why weeds grow in gardens? Then this is the place to look. The book is divided into four sections: Me, Myself, and I; Fun and Games; Awesome Animals; and Nature. Each page features photos, easy-to-read text, fun facts, and sometimes a question. Each section contains two hands-on activities and ends with a game. Back matter includes a "Parent Tips" section with nine "beyond the book" activities to share with children. Each activity focuses on some aspect of STEM: observation, experiment, measuring - plus imagination and art. A list of resources includes books and websites for further exploration.

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup.   On any other Friday we'd be joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it's summer vacation. PPBF will resume in September, but you can always head over to Susanna Hill's ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies from publishers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Red Clover

A bit of lazy mowing left a section of lawn on its own. Now it's a wild place, filled with red and yellow hawkweed, oxeye daisies, buttercups, violets, and red clover. Everyone likes red clover: bees, butterflies - even this little guy. Plus, you can toss the blossoms in your salad.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Rascally Rodents and other Mammals

Who can resist new books about animals? Not me! Here are two relatively new releases.

Rodent Rascals
by Roxie Munro
40 pages; ages 6-9
Holiday House, 2018

I always love opening the covers of a new Roxie Munro book because I know I'll learn something new. Rodent Rascals lives up to that expectation. And yes, she does present them in "actual size" - from the tiniest pygmy jerboa to the sweet-looking capybara. Though, as you can understand, as the rascals get larger the illustration can only capture part of them.

"Humans are lucky to have rodents," Roxie writes. Throughout history, humans have used them as lab rats, fur sources, pets, and food. We've even sent them into space.

Did you know that male house mice sing love songs to their true loves? That flying squirrels don't really fly (they glide), and that there are more than 100 species of gerbils? And that rats have excellent memories? I'm pretty sure the mice in my house do, too, as they always seem to find my chocolate stash. Some rodents have highly developed societies, too. Back matter includes more information about the species highlighted in the book, a glossary, sources for more information, websites, and an index so you can get back to specific critters that you meant to page-mark with sticky notes but forgot.

A Mammal is an Animal
by Lizzy Rockwell
40 pages; ages 4-8
Holiday House, 2018

"A mammal is an animal," writes Lizzy ... "but is every animal a mammal? No!"

Earthworms are animals, but they aren't mammals because they are soft and squishy. Mammals have hard parts inside (squeeze your arm - feel that bone?). So.... snails have hard parts, and so do ladybugs - does that mean they are mammals?

Nope, because their hard parts are on the outside, and mammals have have skeletons inside. Well... what about a sunfish? It has bones inside.

I LOVE the back-and-forth discussion from page to page as Lizzy narrows down the characteristics that make an animal a mammal. I also love that she includes back matter highlighting strange mammals such as those that lay eggs. (Yes! Some mammals lay eggs.) She includes a page of mammal facts and references for curious kids who want to learn more.

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundupOn any other Friday we'd be joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it's summer vacation. PPBF will resume in September, but you can always head over to Susanna Hill's ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies from publishers.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Tadpoles in the Creek!

When the weather gets hot, head for the creek. Last week while doing some water testing, I noticed tons of tadpoles swarming the rocks along the edges of the creek. It's gonna be a long, hot summer for these guys, and herons patrol the creek banks. So not everyone will make it to frog-hood, but here's hoping a few make it to the hop-away stage.

If you have a stream nearby, head on down to see what's happening in and around the water.  And if you want to learn more about tadpoles, check out this link from Earth Rangers.