Friday, July 30, 2021

Finding the Meaning of "Frogness"


by Sarah Nelson; illus. by Eugenie Fernandes 
32 pages; ages 3-7
‎Owlkids, 2021   

theme: frogs, nature, imagination

Just before dusk, rain clouds bloom way out over the sea. We wait.

Sammy and Chocolate (a puppy) are waiting for the frogs to sing. They hike way out to the marsh because This is the night they will Catch A Frog! They hear them everywhere – but there are no frogs in the reeds and no frogs under a log.

What I like about this book: I love – really love – the page that has the frog songs spelled out in huge letters (while the kid and dog fall asleep). Because I also know how hard it is to find singing frogs near a pond, in the weeds, and along a creekbank. It takes two to triangulate, and even then you might never see those sneaky, noisy frogs. The illustrations are marvelous, and the idea of “frogness” just pulls me in. 

And there is … Back Matter! About frogs – how many, what their calls sound like, and how they sing, croak, rattle, peep, trill, trummm, and chuckle. Cool facts, too. Did you know that a species can have a slightly different call depending on where they live? Frogs have accents!

Beyond the Books:

Get to know your frog calls! Listen to the frogs in and around your neighborhood - they don't all live in ponds. Here are some recordings of frogs and toads that live in Indiana - but some may live in your area, too. 

Discover a Fun Frog Fact. Author Sarah Nelson has a whole list of fun frog facts, and lots of "frogness" over at her website.

Play leap frog - or, better yet, create your own frog game. It can be a card game or a board game - or an action game. One idea: cut some lily pads out of green paper and tape them onto the floor. Then hop from one lily pad to the next. Have fun making your own frogness!

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Growing Old


One day the field is filled with yellow composites ~ dandelion-like blooms atop tall, hairy stems. Within days the petals fade and the flowers go to seed. Even as that's happening, new buds are getting ready to bloom. 

Look for aging flowers in your yard and around the neighborhood. Take a photo or draw an aging plant that you find. What do you notice?

Friday, July 23, 2021

Where do the Animals Live?


Do You Know Where the Animals Live?: Discovering the Incredible Creatures All Around Us 
by Peter Wohlleben and translated by Shelley Tanaka 
84 pages; ages 7-10
Greystone Kids, 2021

Author Peter Wohlleben invites readers to go on a journey of discovery through the pages of this book. You don’t need to go to a zoo to see animals, he says – they live all around you. In the first chapter he highlights animals that you might find living in your backyard. He ponders why birds fly south, whether animals have houses, and then takes us on a field trip to find stream animals.

Chapter two focuses on what animals eat – and the things they leave behind! In another chapter he focuses on animal babies, and reminds us that birds aren’t the only ones to lay eggs. We get an insider’s look at how animals grow up, different kinds of animal families, and what happens to them as they grow older. There’s a chapter on survival strategies, one on language, and a great discussion about animal emotions.

Scattered throughout the pages are “try this” activities and “look closer” features that focus on specific animals or topics. This is a great book to put in the hands of any kid who wants to grow up to be a forest ranger, zoo keeper, veterinarian, animal trainer …. I would have loved it as a kid – and as a homeschooling parent.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review ARC provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Butterflies

 I've allowed the milkweed to infiltrate the borders of my garden. It's taken a couple years of encouraging them to grow, taking out some of the non-native ornamentals to give them room, and even giving them a drink during the hot season. But this year they are blooming and attracting a variety of insects. Here are a couple of the butterflies that have been hanging around.
an Essex Skipper ~ look at that tongue!

Banded hairstreak
What butterflies are you seeing fluttering around your backyard and through the neighborhood?

Friday, July 16, 2021

A Walk in the Woods

 theme: nature, STEAM, observation

This month I’m reviewing books that explore different habitats and biomes. Today we’re off to the woods.

Look What I Found in the Woods 
by Moira Butterfield; illus. by Jesus Verona 
32 pages; ages 2-5
Nosy Crow (Candlewick), 2021

Follow me. I know the way.
We’re walking through the woods today.
Look what I found!

This is such a fun book to read before you head of on a walk through the woods. And maybe to carry along with you. It’s part field guide and part treasure hunt. Some spreads invite you to look for specific things: a signpost, wild strawberries, beetles. 

 Other spreads explain how to identify things, such as what kind of snail shell you’ve found, and how to tell a tree by its leaves or needles.

What I like about this book: It’s fun! I love the die-cut cover, and the scavenger-hunt type lists of things to find. I love that this book is all about observations, and the questions support visual literacy. And that the author asks young naturalists to be thoughtful while exploring, and only collect things they find on the ground (if you’re going to use items in art or to study).

If I gave stars, this book would get some.

Beyond the book:

Collect seeds from trees and observe them. Take them apart and learn more about how those trees grow. Try planting some seeds. I once planted a maple seed, and it grew! And every spring I find baby oaks growing from acorns that squirrels have buried in my garden.

Make some rubbings of tree bark. Put paper against a tree and rub the side of the crayon against the paper. The design of the bark will show. Now compare your rubbing to the tree’s bark. Are there some details your crayon couldn’t pick up?

Draw a picture of something you see on your walk in the woods. It could be a mushroom or a bird or a flower… Then give it to a friend and tell them where to find it. 

Go on a woodland scavenger hike – but instead of collecting items, take photos or draw pictures. Here's a place to find a woods walk printable scavenger hunt.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Looking at a Flower


What do you notice when you look at a flower?
Its color, for sure. Maybe the way the petals are shaped, and how many there are.
Its center. The way it catches the light, and creates shadows.
How the blossoms look before they open, all curled into a bud.
Tiny hairs on the stem and leaves. And the shape of the leaves.
And, if you're very lucky, the bees and flies and butterflies that visit the flower.

For more looking-at-a-flower ideas, check out the GROG BLOG today, where we're taking a nature break.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Exploring Where the Whales Live

theme: whales, conservation, oceans

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback 
by Beryl Young; illus. by Sakika Kikuchi 
40 pages; ages 3-7
Greystone Kids, 2021

Show us where you live, Humpback, in the warm waters of this southern bay.

This is the story of a whale and her calf, a child and their mom. The Humpback whale and her calf glide together, safe in their home. The child and mom run through a park, a place where the child feels safe.

The adult Humpback whale is the size of a school bus. One day her calf will be that big. The child is growing too – though will never reach school bus size! 

What I like about this book:
It celebrates whales and our connection to them. Spread by spread the author compares – and contrasts – the whale calf and child. They both learn new things, but different things. They are growing stronger, each splashing in water and blowing bubbles. The whale leaps up, up, up! The child jumps high, too. 

Welcome Home, Whales 
by Christina Booth 
32 pages; ages 4-9
Blue Dot Kids Press, 2021

When I first heard her call, it came from the bay, echoing off the mountain like a whisper while the moon danced on the waves.

One child hears the whale, hears her call of joy and of sadness. The whale, a right whale, wanted to come home, but it did not feel safe,

What I like about this book: There is such a powerful feeling of caring in this book. Caring that can bring together people to make the world a safer, better place for right whales. The illustrations are soft and inviting. And there is wonderful back matter about right whales, where they live, and what those large white patches are called. There’s also a section about conservation efforts and what you can do to welcome whales back to their homes.

Beyond the Books:

Learn more about Humpback whales here and Right whales here.

Sing like a whale. Did you know Humpback whales make up their songs? You can hear a Humpback Whale song here

Make a whale out of a plastic milk jug. All you need to do is raid the recycle bin, rinse out the jug, and then use a sharpie to draw the mouth. When you cut the mouth open, the jug turns into a whale-scoop. Hot glue some eyes or use permanent markers to decorate. Here's how.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Colors in the Landscape

There are lots of yellow flowers blooming in the wild patch in my yard, and in my gardens where I've let the wild things grow. Yellow and orange seem to be the color of the season right now. 

What colors are the flowers blooming in your neighborhood?

Friday, July 2, 2021

Let’s Visit the Seashore!

theme: nature, animals, ocean

This month we’re going on adventures to explore different habitats and biomes. First up: the seashore. Being an inland dweller, I have only visited the shore a few times – mostly in summer, but once in late fall (which was delightful!). The lakeshores I know and love are too rocky for barefoot wandering and there is no sand for building castles, but there are plenty of noisy gulls and fishy smells and watery sounds galore.

Seaside Stroll 
by Charles Trevino; illus. by Maribel Lechuga 
32 pages; ages 3-7
Charlesbridge, 2021

Usually I begin with the first line of the book, but today I’m highlighting the language on page three: Slow steps—shuffle, straddle, saunter … sand.

This is the story of a girl on a seashore walk with her doll and mom. They make wonderful discoveries, and there’s a bit of angst when the doll tumbles into the tidepool. All ends well, though, after a warm bath and a snuggle into a quilt for a story. Though the book features a winter walk to the shore, it’s a perfect read for any season. 

What I like about this book: It’s filled with Luscious Language! And even more cool – it’s alliteration. Every single word in the book, noun or verb or adjective, begins with S. The illustrations are marvelous. I especially love the illustration of the girl from the point of view of something at the bottom of the tide pool. Back matter includes notes about the words, and some things to find at a beach in winter.

Go Wild! Sea Turtles 
by Jill Esbaum 
48 pages; ages 4-8 years
‎National Geographic Kids, 2021

Graceful glider.
Seagrass nibbler.
Mollusk muncher.
That’s a sea turtle!

Jill Esbaum pulls us into the watery world of sea turtles from page one. We learn about their habitat, their size (they can weigh as much as four car tires!), adaptations that allow them to live in the ocean, what they eat, how they build a nest, and what life is like for a hatchling. There’s information about threats sea turtles face, and what kids can do to help.

What I like about this book: It’s fun to read and filled with photos. We get to meet all seven kinds of sea turtles; did you know there were seven kinds? Back matter includes a parent’s section with STEAM activities. 

And now one just for fun:
Weird But True Ocean 
by National Geographic Kids
208 pages; ages 8-12
National Geographic Kids, 2021

Did you know that the Lion’s Mane nudibranch, which is a sea slug, makes a secretion that smells like watermelon? Me neither. But there it is, in white and red on page 20 of this compilation of 300 “fin-tastic” facts from the deep blue sea. What a fun book to toss into the beach bag or back seat travel box for the next trip to the beach, zoo, aquarium, or wherever you go this summer. Another cool fact: octopuses taste with their suction cups. And here I thought they used them to stick onto lids so they could open jars. 

Beyond the Books:

Explore the Shore. If you live near a seashore, go for a walk and observe the birds and shore life. If you live too far from the ocean, find a shore you can explore. Maybe along a lake, or a river bank. What kinds of plants do you see? Birds? Animals? What kinds of sounds do you hear? What is the texture of the sand (or rock) that makes up the shore? Come back in the winter and compare what the shore looks, sounds, and smells like. Visit at different times: early morning, late afternoon, night time when the stars fill the sky.

Explore a tide pool. If you live nowhere near a tide pool, see if there are any tide pool exhibits at a local zoo, aquarium, or discovery center. Or virtually explore tide pool creatures via this video (about 5 minutes long).

Explore sea turtles. Learn more about sea turtles at See Turtles. Then grab a paper bowl and construction paper and make your own sea turtle buddy. Here’s how. Then head over to the handy sea turtle tracker at Sea Turtle Conservancy. Click on active sea turtles to follow a turtle – or two or three. Their journeys are mapped out.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.