Friday, April 16, 2021

Earth Day reading

Earth Day is next week, April 22. So today I’m sharing two books about the Earth, and how we can live more in tune with our planet.

Themes: Earth Day, environment, nature

My Friend Earth
by Patricia MacLachlan; illus by Francesca Sanna 
44 pages; ages 3-5
Chronicle Books, 2020

My friend Earth wakes from a winter nap.

And when she does, she has a lot to do. She’s got animals to attend to, large and small. She cares for the creatures of the tundra, the prairies, the ocean. She pours rain from the clouds and blows autumn leaves from trees. She sprinkles snow across the land before snuggling down for another long nap.

What I like about this book: The die-cut pages are fun to explore – though sometimes hard to turn – and I love the lyrical text. A sweet book to read for Earth Day.

My Green Day: 10 Green Things I Can Do Today 
by Melanie Walsh 
40 pages; ages 3-7
Candlewick, 2020

When I wake up I eat a free-range egg for breakfast.

Over the course of a day we follow the main character as she does simple things, from putting breakfast eggshells into the compost bin to helping hang the laundry. 

What I like about this book: I like how it shows concrete, simple things kids can do to help the Earth. From recycling scraps to make Earth Day cards to remembering the cloth bags for the trip to the grocery store, this book highlights 10 things any kid can do. I also like the bold illustrations.

Beyond the Books:

Do some Earth Day activities
~ here’s a list of 50 ideas from Tinker Lab.  

Make a list of some things you can do to help the Earth. Could you take smaller portions so you finish all the food on your plate? What about hanging laundry on a line or drying rack? Taking a short shower instead of a bath? Putting on a sweater instead of turning up the heat?

Visit a nearby state park and take a walk. If you can’t travel, try a virtual tour of one of our gorgeous national parks. Here’s a link to Yellowstone National Park and one to the Grand Canyon. Find more here.

Go outside and hug a tree. Ask someone to take a photo of you hugging your tree, then print it out so you can remember Earth Day 2021. Remember to visit your tree every now and then to see how it’s doing.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Math + Art > numbers

Here’s something you need to know about Sally (the inspiration for this blog): she was married to a math teacher and her three sons grew up to become math teachers. So I figure it’s only appropriate to include math stories every now and then. Here’s one that will hit the shelves in about 10 days (estimation is a useful math skill!).

Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers 
by Rajani LaRocca; illus. by Chaaya Prabhat 
32 pages; ages 3-6
Charlesbridge, 2021

theme: math, art, holidays

Bina had three big brothers: Vijay, Siddharth, and Arjun.

Like big brothers everywhere, they sometimes annoyed her – but Bina loves them anyway. So when the Hindu festival, Raksha Bandhan grows close, she decides to make her brothers some bracelets. They will be the perfect gift to celebrate the close relationship that ties them together as siblings. So Bina decides to buy beads to make the bracelets. Vijay loves blue but hates the color green. Siddharth loves green but can’t stand orange. And Arjun loves orange but is oh-so-tired of blue. 

What I like about this book: This story integrates math by using colors and patterns. With only enough money to buy the beads her brothers love, Bina has to figure out how to make bracelets that are fun and include more than one color. Rajani also includes Back Matter (yay!) with information about the festival and a math exploration activity.

I caught up with Rajani a couple weeks ago and asked her One Question:

me: What made you so passionate about math - and so passionate about sharing
it with young people through your books?

Rajani: I love that math truly is everywhere, that we use it all the time to solve everything from simple, everyday problems to incredibly complex ones. There is a beauty to math that fills me with wonder. I love writing books that, I hope, inspire young people to think about math with a sense of discovery and fun.

Beyond the Books:

Make some patterns using two colors of beads or blocks – or even splats of paint. Like Bina, you might do alternating colors (green-blue-green-blue). What other kinds of repeating patterns can you make using only two colors? Here’s one to get you started: green-blue-blue-green-blue-blue…

Instead of colors, what other ways can you create patterns? Use different senses. Create some patterns you can see (shape? French fries vertical or horizontal?). Create patterns you can hear (drum beats? notes?). Create patterns of texture (sandpaper-smooth? different textures of cloth?)

Rajani is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. In addition to practicing medicine, she writes award-winning fiction and nonfiction books for children. Some of her titles this year include: Red, White, and Whole, Much Ado About Baseball, and Where Three Oceans Meet – plus more on the way! Find out more about her and her books at her website,

We’ll be joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Girls Can Too be knights!

I love sharing books written by friends. I met Terry around a decade ago at the Highlights children’s writers workshop in Chautauqua. We sat in on many of the same workshops, and talked STEM writing during lunches. So when she told me she was working on a chapter book series, I couldn’t wait to read it!

Definitely Dominguita: Knight of the Cape 
by Terry Catasus Jennings; illus. by Fatima Anaya
144 pages; ages 6-9
Aladdin, 2021

Dominguita Melendez is definitely a girl after my own heart. She loves to read, especially tales of adventure and chivalry in her grandmother’s books. So rather than playing, she spends her recess period reading Don Quijote.

So when the bully sneers that girls can’t be knights, Dominguita sets out to prove him wrong. After all, Joan of Arc was a knight. Right? 

With a helmet and cape and sense of justice, Dom sets off to seek adventure, even if that means helping people carry groceries along the way. She acquires a squire, aptly named Pancho Sanchez, and a trusty steed (of sorts), scrounges some armor and manages to convince a neighbor to knight her with his trusty sword.  Then she is definitely 100% ready for heroic adventures…

… which turn out a bit differently than expected. I don’t want to spoil the story, but let me just say lots of cookies are involved, Dom gains a crew of stout-hearted friends, and there is a real brave and true rescue.

This is a fun book that kicks off a new series about Dom and her friends. The stories are based on classic tales: Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers… I’m sure there will be more, as abuela had many tales to share.

Want a taste of the story? Visit Terry’s website and check out the trailer. She’s also got some book-related classroom activities. Then, head over to the GROG Blog for an interview with Terry.

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 copy provided by the publisher.

I'll be back with more books next month!