Monday, March 31, 2014

WEASELS ~ they're plotting to take over the World!

by Elys Dolan
32 pages; ages 5-8
Candlewick Press, 2014
 Review copy provided by publisher.

Weasels spend most of their time chasing bunnies, eating berries and .... wait! What's this? They really drink coffee and spend their days plotting to take over the world?

Apparently so and, according to Elys Dolan, Today Is The Day. The weasels are at their world-taking-over machine ready for the countdown.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - oops! Suddenly everything goes dark. The machine is broken - and the remainder of the book is given over to the process of determining what went wrong and how to fix it. We see weasel engineers and weasel computer programmers and maintenance weasels and a weasel from the division of health and safety who enforces the regulations. Then there's the LABORATORY  where weasels work at counters covered with flasks and papers filled with complex mathematical equations.

But back at the machine, things are still in chaos! At least until someone finds the problem - with a solution so elegant it will make you think twice before calling tech support the next time you have a glitch in your computer.

This is such a fun book - with illustrations that beg for the same sort of attention you'd give Waldo or I Spy. Lest you think all weasels wear neckties, here's a video showing some more natural weasel behavior: a stoat (weasel) hunting.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Old MacDonald's (Urban) Farm

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm [with a Little Help from a Hen]
by Judy Sierra; illus. by Matthew Myers
32 pages; ages 4 - 8
Candlewick, 2014

Old MacDonald had a house. And around this house he had a yard – but mowing grass was not high on his list of “things I love to do”. So MacDonald decided to get a goat to keep the grass short.

Then he got a chicken. Not just any chicken, but the “smartest hen in history”. She convinces MacDonald to cover his lawn with cardboard and paper, and top it off with a layer of dirt. In short: a garden. The hen decides a bit of manure is needed to add nutrients for the vegetables…. but the neighbors Are Not Amused.

So begins the legend of Old MacDonald’s (urban) farm… e-i-e-i-oh! A fun book, to be sure. Give it, with a package of seeds, to your young readers and see what happens.
Review copy from publisher.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Charlie Bumpers Returns - blog tour

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome
by Bill Harley
160 pages; ages 7-10
Peachtree Publishers, 2014

For their special project, Charlie’s class isn’t designing an obstacle course – Mrs. L’s class is doing that. His class isn’t serving lunch with foods from around the world – Ms. Lewis’s class is doing that.

Charlie’s class is presenting a play – and Charlie knows exactly what part he wants. In fact he’s been practicing his evil laugh for days. But when Mrs. Burke calls her thespians to order, Charlie doesn’t see his name next to the Evil sorcerer Kragon. Nope – he’s got the part of the Nice Gnome.

“If I had to make a list of parts I did not want in the Sorcerer’s Castle, the Nice Gnome would be at the very top,” thinks Charlie.  Now he has to make a costume with a pointy hat and golden shoes… and gnome pants. And get over the fact that his friend gets to do the evil mwa-ha-ha laugh on stage.

To make it worse his sister, the Squid, wants to walk the dog (she’s too small) and his brother just makes fun of Guh-nice Guh-nomes. And the killer rabbit escapes from its cage.

Storyteller Bill Harley (who also sings funny songs) entertains us with a second volume of tales of Charlie Bumper, focusing on the big worries and small victories that fill a fourth grader's world. But there's more - Charlie has his own blog, where you can get the recipe for his favorite food (train wreck) and see the trailer for this book.

Join the Blog Tour and drop by tomorrow's stop at  The World of Peachtree Publishing. Today is also Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday round-up. Drop by to see what other bloggers are reviewing. Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Year with the Beavers

A Beaver's Busy Year
by Mary Holland
32 pages; ages 4-8
Arbordale (formerly Sylvan Dell), 2014

Natural historian Mary Holland takes us into the lives of beavers through a year of seasons. We learn about their teeth - and how they use them to gnaw down trees for their building projects. We learn about their special see-through goggly eyes and their strong webbed feet. We see them get ready for winter and emerge with kits in the spring. And we even learn the secrets of how beavers get wood splinters out from between their teeth.

There's plenty of additional material for curious naturalists. Holland includes a section about "beaver signs". Just because you don't see beavers doesn't mean they aren't there, she says. You might find bite marks or tracks or other signs that they've been about. She also has a section about beavers as "habitat engineers" and gives a closer look at how they build their dams. And though some people think of them as pests, beavers play a role as a "keystone species" in an ecosystem.

When not writing books, Mary Holland is out with her camera observing nature. Check out her awesome website, Naturally Curious. And remember to drop by STEM Friday to see what other science books and resources bloggers are sharing. Review copy provided by publisher

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Hot Mystery for National Wildlife Week ~ Flash Point

Flash Point
by Sneed B. Collard III
256 pages; age 11 & up
Peachtree Publishers 2011 (reprint edition)

Wildfires have been burning all around Heartwood, Montana, since August and Luther can’t remember the last time he saw blue sky. The air is so bad that coach has canceled football practice and some of the guys from the team invite Luther to join them at the burger joint. But he’s got a job, and besides, he didn’t go out for the team this year.

His job: caring for birds at the raptor center. Hawks and eagles that some folks – including kids on the team – think of as nuisance birds. Targets.

While wildfires threaten his home and his stepfather’s livelihood – just about everyone’s job is touched by the timber industry – Luther struggles to resolve his own conflicts. His love for the raptors gives him a different view of forestry policies, pitting him against former team mates.
He finds a kindred spirit in Alex, a girl new to the school and also a social “outsider”. Things heat up when someone starts shooting the birds from the raptor center and suspicious fires start breaking out too close to town.

This award-winning book is a great mystery for young adults who want something that reflects their world. It’s also a good book to read during National Wildlife Week, which starts today. If you’re looking for ways to get involved in learning about wildlife, check out this Science NetLinks project from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). You’ll find books,videos, apps and more.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bring on the Demolition crew!

by Sally Sutton; illus by Brian Lovelock
22 pages (board book)
Candlewick Press, 2014

My kids loved watching trucks and construction machinery. It didn't matter whether buildings were going up or bridges were coming down - they lived for the noise and rumble and the sight of a crew getting things done.

This is a fun book to read aloud for the rhymes and the noises. There are zips and snaps and cracks  creaks and bangs and crunches - each page is full of wonderful noises that kids will love to shout aloud.

Screech! Scrunch! Rip! Those are the sounds of machinery knocking things down. Those are the sounds of people at work. And after all the concrete has been hauled away, the steel recycled and the wood chipped... there's construction, and a place to play. Hip, hip, hooray!

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lost for Words

Lost for Words
by Natalie Russell
32 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree publishers, 2014

Tapir has some pencils and a brand new notebook... but there's one problem: he doesn't know what to write. He stares and stares at the page, waiting for something to pop into his head. Nothing.

But his friends have no problems getting their thoughts onto the page. Giraffe is writing a poem. Hippo is writing a story. Flamingo is composing a song.

Poor tapir - the harder he tries to write, the more upset he gets. Until he gets an idea... instead of scribbling words, he draws the sun, and the mud where hippo plays. Tapir's whimsical drawings are great fun to look at, and a good reminder that there are many ways to tell stories. This book will make you want to grab a sketchpad and a handful of colored pencils and head outside to find your own stories to draw.

Today we're part of the Lost for Words Blog Tour.  Remember to stop by Peachtree's blog, and tomorrow check out what Patricia thinks about Lost for Words over at It's About Time . Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Jazzy in the Jungle

Jazzy in the Jungle
by Lucy Cousins
32 pages; ages 2-5
Candlewick Press, 2013

Theme: family,animals

Mama Jo Jo and Baby Jazzy are playing hide-and-seek in the jungle.

"Where are you, Baby Jazzy?"

The anteater doesn't see Jazzy. Neither do the snake and the bird. Maybe Jazzy is over by the Tum Tum trees... So mama lemur searches over there.

What I like: The bold illustrations and die-cut pages produce a multi-layered jungle. There are tall trees and understory plants. Then there are all of the animals that help Mama Jo Jo find Jazzy. They remind me of animals I drew when I was a kid - and now I really want a huge piece of manilla art paper and a set of fat crayons so I can draw some jungle scenes, too. Because it's hide-and-seek, we know Jazzy isn't lost... just hiding.

Beyond the Book activities: We all need more play in our lives, so instigate a game of hide-and-seek! You can take turns hiding, or hide a stuffed animal and give clues to where it might be hiding.

Make a frog puppet. Frogs of all types live in the rainforest jungle, and all you need for a frog puppet is a paper plate, some paper and paint. Here are the directions for making the puppet, and here are frog photos in case you want to make yours look like a real rainforest frog.

Today's 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. Review copy provided by publisher.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Tale of a Tail

Churchill's Tale of Tails
by Anca Sandu
32 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree Publisher

We've all lost things: a favorite pencil, an action hero, the math homework from last night. But what's a pig to do when he loses his tail?

Of all the things Churchill prized, his tail was the one he prized most. It wasn't too big or too fancy or even very practical. But it was his, and he liked it. Then one morning... his tail is nowhere to be found! After searching here and there, his friends suggest that he try on different animal tails.

Churchill tries on a zebra tail, a peacock tail, and a fish tail. Soon, the only thing Churchill wants to talk about is how much fun he's having trying on tails. But his friends want to play. Eventually (and I'm not gonna spill the beans here) Churchill finds his tail, which means he has more time to spend with his friends.

This is a fun book that leaves room for children to wonder what they might look like with a tail. Which will lead to some browsing through books to see what kinds of tails there are in the animal kingdom. And if a kid makes a tail, then he'll probably want ears to go with it....

Join the Blog Tour - check out what Patricia says about Churchill (and his tail) over at It's About Time Mamaw - and tomorrow catch the blog tour over at  Reading to Know. Make sure you drop by the Peachtree Blog to register for the free book giveaway.

Review copy provided by publisher