Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Reading

I'm taking a summer break to read through the pile of books that has been stacking up - and threatening to teeter over. So I'll most likely be hanging out in the hammock with a good story and a frosty glass of lemonade.

You can do the same. If you're looking for some books to read, check out the archives - or head over to your local library. This summer NY state libraries are hosting programs around the theme of "superheroes". You can find grade-level summer reading lists here. For more reading lists, check out ALSC.

Also, Barnes & Noble is challenging children in grades 1-6 to read eight books this summer and keep a reading journal. Readers can turn in their journals before Labor Day to receive a free book (from a selected list). More info here and here.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Egg: Nature's Perfect Package
by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
32 pages; ages 4-8
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

If you're wondering what came first - it's the egg! And if you're wondering what drew me to this book, it's the simplicity of the cover. An almost perfect egg with just a bit of beak showing... I want to know what emerges.

This book is filled with wonderful illustrations of eggs of all kinds, from banana slug eggs to frog eggs to lizard eggs... with a couple of strange mammals tucked in their shells as well. Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have done a marvelous job showing the diversity of egg-layers and the eggs they lay.

I love the spread where they compare the actual size of eggs, from a period-sized stink-bug egg to an elephant bird egg too large to fit on the page. They show where each animal lays its eggs, and how many eggs it usually lays.

Eggs are tasty and nutritious, so the birds and bugs and frogs and snails must protect their eggs - and incubate them until they hatch. Once incubated, there's the problem of getting out of the egg: beak? feet?

If you want to get the inside scoop about what life is like inside an egg, there are a couple timelines showing development of a chicken and an alligator. There is also a lot of back matter where you can learn more about the egg-layers featured in the book.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Perfect picture book Friday is on summer break, but you can still drop by Susanna Leonard Hill's site to read previous posts. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy from the publisher.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Noisy Bird Sing-Along

Noisy Bird Sing-Along
by John Himmelman
32 pages; ages 3-8
Dawn publications, 2015

I love leaving the windows open all night. We listen to the chorus of frogs, and the gentle whoo-whoo-whooing of the owls. There's only one problem...

The morning birds are SO NOISY! Like the birds in this book. Look at that cover - you know that this book is going to be a lot of fun to read. And sure enough, John Himmelman takes us on a wild auditory field trip. We meet Robin who wakes us up with his "Cheery up? Cheery-oh!" call. And the Barred owl - he's the one constantly asking "who cooks for you?" And for hockey fans who are already missing the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are the White-throated sparrows that sing, "Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada".

Not only does Himmelman share the birds' songs, he also provides tidbits about where each bird takes its meals. Chickadees hunt for bugs in trees, while hummingbirds zip from flower to flower poking their lo-o-ong beaks into blossoms and slurping up the nectar. After we are introduced to all of the birds, Himmelman brings them together in one noisy chorus.

I love that he includes back matter: a page of fun facts about each of the birds, as well as handy advice about birding, feeding, and pishing. Sounds like "fishing" but instead of casting with a rod, you make pssh-pssh-pssh noises to call out curious birds. Click here to listen to all of the bird songs.

Today we're joining the roundup over at the Nonfiction Monday blog where you'll find even more book reviews. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Monday, June 29, 2015


by Tim Hamilton
32 pages; ages 4-7
Holiday House, 2014

If you're looking for some beach reading - and you're not afraid of pirates - this might be a good choice. It's a bit zany, and features Tim Hamilton's wonderfully cartoonish drawings.

Eddie lives with his dad and his dog in Halibut Bay. It's a nice enough place, but people have cold heads because they don't have hats.

One day Eddie and his dog are off for some fishing. But dad stops them in their tracks. You have chores to do, he says. And by the way, watch out for pirates. So Eddie sets off and everything seems to be going well... BUT...

And therein lies the story. Eddie tries to do what he is told, BUT.... He tries to bake a cake. He tries to clean up. He wraps the presents. He's getting everything ready when Pirates show up! He realizes that his gifts won't do: he's wrapped up socks BUT...

the pirates don't need a pair of socks. How will they put socks on a wooden leg? Eddie does some quick thinking and comes out ahead. He solves the problems and makes everyone, even his crabby aunt, happy.


Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World

Over on a Mountain: Somewhere in the World
by Marianne Berkes; illus by Jill Dubin
32 pages; ages 3-8
Dawn publications, 2015

This book will not only have you singing along, but checking an atlas, globe, or whatever mapping app you might have. It's downright fun and a great addition to the "Over in" series that Marianne Berkes has been adding to over the years.

I like it because it's a world tour of mountain ranges - and it has animals from every region. Plus Berkes includes a handy map in case you don't have a globe at hand. Plus it's a counting song... so it's win-win all around.

The illustrations are beautiful cut paper, filled with texture and detail.

All the animals in the book act the way that Berkes portrays them. Snow leopards leap, bald eagles soar, and penguins waddle. And they live in the mountains as shown in the book. But they don't have as many babies as in her rhyme!

There is wonderful back matter for parents and curious kids. Berkes includes mountain facts, reveals the "hidden" mountain animals, and provides more information about the animals featured in the book. There's also an entire page of "tips from the illustrator" - what fun for the budding artist! And, at the back there is music and words for the song in case you're chosen to lead the next sing-along.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Even though "perfect picture book Friday" is on summer break, you can still check out recent posts at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy from the publisher.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Bird is a Bird

A Bird is a Bird
by Lizzy Rockwell
32 pages; ages 3-7
Holiday House, 2015

One bird is fancy. Another is plain.
But a bird is a bird.

Because, as Lizzy Rockwell shows us, there are some things all birds have in common. They all have beaks - even though some beaks are huge and fat, designed for eating fruit and others are thin and sharp, designed for spearing frogs.

All birds have wings. While some flap and glide high in the sky, others swim and dive in the ocean. And all birds begin life as an egg.

But wait! Insects have wings and they aren't birds. Snakes lay eggs, and they aren't birds. So what is it about birds that makes them different from all the other animals?

Feathers! And those feathers help birds survive. Using detailed illustrations and text that is poetic and simple enough for a beginning reader, Rockwell shows us what makes birds "birds".

Check out Rockwell's book about gardening ~ Plants Feed Us ~  along with some beyond the garden activities. Today we're joining the roundup over at the Nonfiction Monday blog where you'll find even more book reviews. Review copy provided by the publisher.