Friday, October 15, 2021

What's Buried in Your Backyard?


The Deepest Dig 
by Mark David Smith; illus by Lily Snowden-Fine 
32 pages; ages 3-7
Owlkids, 2021 

theme: mammoth, bones, STEAM

Caden found something in the backyard.

It was as long as a fence post. It was as hard as a stone. It pushed up through the soil like a root. But it wasn’t a stone or a root or even a fence post. It was definitely a treasure, said his neighbor, Martha. But no one else believes Caden about his treasure. If it was a treasure, we could go traveling, says mom. If it was a prehistoric animal, I’ll eat my hat, says Caden’s science teacher. But Caden, with Martha’s help – and her truck and winch – pull up the bone. Then more. And soon an entire skeleton which Caden tries to assemble in increasingly funny ways.

What I like about this book: It’s a fun take on finding bones in your backyard. And I love the nonchalance of Caden’s parents. I like that Martha has the truck and encourages Caden to dig deeper. And I really like that the story is based on a real event: a farmer in Michigan discovered mammoth bones in his soybean field. What I would have liked even better was if there had been back matter. 

Beyond the Books:

Find out more about the discovery of mammoth bones in the farmer’s field. Here’s an article from the Detroit News. What other articles can you find about people discovering mammoth – or even dinosaur – bones in their backyards?

What does a mammoth site look like when scientists are digging? Check out this video of University of Michigan paleontologists.

Are mammoths ancient relatives of modern elephants? Here’s one article that compares the two. If you can, visit elephants at a zoo and make your own observations.

Today we're 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, October 8, 2021

Charlie & Mouse with new adventures


Charlie & Mouse Lost and Found 
by Laurel Snyder; illus. by Emily Hughes
52 pages; ages 6-9
Chronicle Books, 2021

This is book 5 in this wonderful chapter book series. I’ve got to tell you, I love Charlie and Mouse. Even though they are brothers, they treat each other with tenderness – well, some of the time. In this book the four chapters may look like independent stories, but they are leashed together. There is a sweet story about a missing blanket (referred to as “he/him”) and Charlie and Mouse go on a blanket hunt. They go on errands with mom – which, if you remember your younger childhood, were Not Fun. I vaguely remember trips to the bank (there were deposit slips to write on!) and grocery stores…

… but Charlie and Mouse find a lost dog. Can we keep him? they ask. You think you know how that ends, but author Laurel Snyder turns it into a story of care. And then there is the dog that finds them. 


What I like about this book: Short, simple language, sweet. Some observations about the Charlie and Mouse series: each book has four chapters (or stories) and total word count for the books range from 950 – 1100 words. Not only are they great stories for newly independent readers, they are good mentor texts for writers interested in early chapter books.

You can find my reviews of earlier books here on the blog.
Charlie & Mouse Even Better (2019) is here 

Charlie & Mouse Outdoors (2020) is here.

Thanks for dropping by today. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, October 1, 2021

A Boy, a fox, and a forest fire


The Fox and the Forest Fire 
by Danny Popovici 
44 pages; ages 5-8
Chronicle Books, 2021

theme: animals, forest fire

I wasn’t sure I’d like my new home.

When a boy moves from his home in the city to a new house in the woods, he wonders whether he will ever like it. It’s too quiet at night; too loud in the morning, and bugs fly into his mouth when he’s hiking with mom. But over time he discovers things that he does like, and makes friends with a fox. Then disaster strikes: a forest fire. The boy and his mom have to evacuate ~ but where do the animals go?


What I like about this book: What looks like a simple story has layers: a house, the woods, the trees and plants, the animals living in the woods. Everything is connected, even if you don’t see those connections. Given the fires this summer, this is a timely book. The author, at one time, was part of a forest firefighting crew, and he writes about that and the impacts of wildfires in the back matter.

Beyond the Books:

The western part of the US has seen lots of wildfires this summer. You can find out more about wildfires here.

If you were a forest animal, what would you be? Where would you hide – or go – during a wildfire? Here’s an article about animals and the fires in California this summer.

Today we're 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.