Friday, November 30, 2012

The Rabbit Problem

The Rabbit Problem
By Emily Gravett (and a lot of rabbits)
32 pages, ages 4 and up
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010

If you put one pair of baby rabbits into a field, how many rabbits will there be at the end of a month? At the end of one year? Emily Gravett considers this question, posed by Fibonacci back in the 13th-century, in a book that reads like a calendar – complete with errands scribbled in the day’s boxes, sticky notes and a booklet on things to do with carrots.

As for the math, as with any problem there are rules. In this case: no rabbits may leave the field and a few basic assumptions about how fast rabbits produce offspring. There’s also a bunch of unexpected tangents: what do rabbits do in the winter when it’s freezing outside? Are there rabbit parenting guides? What do we do with all these kids all summer? Soon you’ve got chaos.

Gravett has fun illustrating the social life of an ever-increasing rabbit community: they need food; they create a community newspaper (complete with horoscopes); they deal with issues of diet and exercise. And always, she keeps her eye on the population count – leaving you to do the math. When things get too crowded, the rabbits take matters into their own hands and change the rules. You don’t need to understand Fibonacci to enjoy this book – but it helps…

It's Picture Book Month, so share a good book with a kid you love. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Don't Feed the Boy

Don't Feed the Boy
by Irene Latham; illus. by Stephanie Graegin
288 pages, ages 8 and up
Roaring Brook Press 2012

No one knows more about the Meadowbrook Zoo than Whit. That’s because his mother’s the zoo director, his father is the head elephant keeper and, for the past eleven years, Whit has eaten, slept and completed all his homeschooling lessons at the zoo. Until today, begins Irene Latham, “… he’d never disobeyed the three basic rules his parents had set for him.”

Because now, Whit has discovered the Bird Girl. She comes every day with her sketchbook and draws the toucans, ostriches – even pigeons pecking crumbs beneath the picnic tables. Who is this Bird Girl? And why does she come by herself to the zoo?

Whit takes Stella, the Bird Girl on a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo. She shows him how to sneak across the highway to where she lives. And suddenly, what seems like a simple friendship turns complex when Stella asks Whit to help her run away from her abusive father.

This is part of Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday! Check out more cool reviews for kids here. Review copy from Blue Slip Media

Friday, November 23, 2012

Even an Octopus Needs a Home

Even an Octopus Needs a Home
Written and illustrated by Irene Kelly
32 pages, ages 6 – 9
Holiday House, 2011

“There’s no place like home,” begins Irene Kelly. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a person or a penguin, everybody needs a home. From the highest branches of a tree to the ocean floor, Kelly shows the diversity of animal abodes.

Chimps build a new sleeping platform every night – but they aren’t the only ones to sleep in trees. Parakeets construct complex condos, wasps build paper walls and weaver ants glue leaves together to make a place to sleep/

Kelly reveals the secrets of apartment dwellers – termites and corals. She illustrates simple homes: dens beneath tree roots or just enough space to roost. She talks about floating homes (canvas-backed ducks), mobile homes (hermit crabs) and bubble homes (underwater spider).

“But all animals, including humans, need homes for the same reason,” she writes. “To have a safe and snug place to live and raise a family.”

Check out other great science and nature books at STEM Friday - and remember, November is Picture Book Month! Review copy provided by publisher.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Memoirs of a Goldfish

Memoirs of a Goldfish
By Devin Scillian; illustrated by Tim Bowers
32 pages, ages 4 -8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2010

“Day One: I swam around my bowl. Day Two: I swam around my bowl. Twice.”
So begins Memoirs of a Goldfish, a tell-all tale from a goldfish. Life is pretty simple until, one day, the goldfish gets company: Mr. Bubbles. Then come the plants, a snail named Mervin, a crab, two guppies, a sunken pirate ship…. Things are getting pretty crowded in the fishbowl!

By day twelve the goldfish Has. Had. It. He wants his bowl back, and peace and quiet restored. But when he gets his wish, he realizes that he misses his friends. This is a fun read – from a different point of view – about friends, wishes, and maybe true love. There’s nothing fishy about that!
Review copy borrowed from library.

November is Picture Book Month. Celebrate by sharing a book with someone you love!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bring on the Birds

Bring on the Birds
Written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale
32 pages, ages 2 – 6
Peachtree Publishers, 2011

This is a book I would choose by its cover. Even if I didn’t see the cover I would be hooked by the first pages.

“Swooping birds / whooping birds / birds with puffy chests… Dancing birds/ diving birds/ birds with fluffy crests.” Susan Stockdale’s engaging rhymes and spot-on rhythm, bold and bright illustrations, and her inclusion of honest-to-goodness science add up to a fun-to-read book that can’t be beat.

Stockdale was inspired to write about birds after watching blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance on the Galapagos Islands. Her well-researched book introduces children to both familiar and exotic birds, from the Robin found in your backyard to the blue-crested Victoria Crowned Pigeon found in Papua New Guinea.

No matter what their colors, or the length of their legs… all birds have feathers and hatch from eggs. For older readers and curious parents, Stockdale provides information about each bird and where it lives.

Themes: birds, diversity
Beyond the book: visit birds in a zoo or aviary; watch birds at parks and outside your yard; help scientists learn more about birds by participating in Feeder Watch.

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Celebrate Picture Book Month Review copy provided by the publisher.