Eszterhas, Suzi. A Leopard Diary: My Journey into the Hidden World of a Mother and Her Cubs. OwlkidsBooks, 2022. 978-1-771-47491-7. 40 p. $18.95. Grades 2-6.
Wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, author of Moto and Me, returns with A Leopard Diary! Eszterhas specializes in photographing baby animals, and she jumped at the chance to photograph a female leopard and her two cubs in Botswana’s Jao Reserve, located in the Okavango Delta. In A Leopard Diary she has compiled her diary of the adventure, from the day she arrived at the Tubu Tree Camp through various return trips over the next two years. Her diary entries conversationally document the female cubs’ development, accompanied by full-color photos and lively page spreads that showcase their journey from cubs to sub-adults. The narrative culminates in the arrival of the Camp Female’s new baby, a male cub. As in all of Eszterhas’s books, the photographs are the star of the show. Many include captions that further explain the scenes so skillfully captured by her camera. The closing pages include an interview with Kambango (a guide and tracker who works in the reserve), information on Children in the Wilderness, and a useful list of Words to Know.
THOUGHTS: The author’s love of both her profession and the wildlife she photographs shines through on every page. Readers will come away from A Leopard Diary with a new understanding of these big cats and their “hidden” lives in the bush.
Hansen, Grace. Pets of Presidents. Abdo Kids, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-2.
Birds of Presidents. 978-1-098-20923-0. Cats of Presidents. 978-1-098-20924-7. Dogs of Presidents. 978-1-098-20925-4. Farm Pest of Presidents. 978-1-098-20926-1. Horses of Presidents. 978-1-098-20927-9. Unusual Pets of Presidents. 978-1-098-20928-5.
This series focuses on a unique part of presidential history – the pets of presidents and their families. Each two page spread features age appropriate text identifying the president and the pet(s) owned by their family. A historical image of the president (or family) is accompanied by a contemporary photo of the pet species they owned. This reviewer had an opportunity to read Birds of Presidents. While the overall book was very informative, the spread featuring the Teddy Roosevelt family and their macaw had text that simply mentioned “The Roosevelts” and a photo showing Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. with the macaw. It would have been clearer to the reader had the text indicated that “The Roosevelts” referred specifically to the Theodore Roosevelt family (since, after all, two Roosevelts have occupied the Oval Office). Each volume also features a picture glossary and a link to additional online resources.
THOUGHTS: An interesting angle on presidential history that will appeal to both animal fans and history fans, this series is a worthwhile additional purchase for libraries looking to add to their presidential collections.
973 American HistoryElizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
Just like animals, the places one can encounter them come in all shapes and sizes. Animal Encounter Bucket List features some of the most famous places in the world where people can visit and learn about animals. There are sanctuaries that seek to rehabilitate animals. Boon Lott’s Elephant’s Sanctuary in Thailand helps animals harmed by the country’s tourism. Zoos are also another way to encounter animals, the oldest being Vienna Zoo in Austria.The best zoos to visit are ones that are accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Natural Parks like the Everglades and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are worth visiting to see not only animals but the entire habitat in which they live. For those wanting to stay a bit closer to home, camping, hiking, bird-watching, and water activities give people the chance to see animals up close right in their own backyards.
THOUGHTS: This book is easy to read with bright photographs. Some pages include special features like Perspectives and Further Evidence; however, there are not so many of these features that they distract from the text. The entire series is aligned to Common Core Standards and matched to state standards.
Many animals have developed adaptations to help protect them from predators and other enemies. The Animals with Armor series takes a look at some animals with armor related protection. In addition to learning about each animal’s unique armor, readers will learn about the animal’s habitat, food sources, size and other interesting facts. This reviewer had the opportunity to read Porcupines. The volume featured numerous facts as well as numerous photographs, including several close-up views of fearsome porcupine quills. Each volume also features additional facts, a glossary, and a website link where readers can find quality websites on the animal.
THOUGHTS: This engaging series is sure to be a hit with young readers who are animal fans. The text is simple, yet informative and the high-quality photos allow readers to get a close up look at some armor (like porcupine quills) that they may not personally have the opportunity to view in the wild. A worthwhile purchase for schools looking to add to their animal collections.
Andrews, Elizabeth. Science Questions (Set 2). Abdo Kids, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Gr. K-3.
How Do Fish Breathe? 978-1-098-24107-0. How Do Puppies Get Their Colors? 978-1-098-24108-7. How Does a Body Heal? 978-1-098-24109-4. How Does Plumbing Work? 978-1-098-24110-0. Why Do Volcanoes Erupt? 978-1-098-24111-7. Why Does a Boat Float? 978-1-098-24112-4.
The Science Questions series from Abdo Publishing is back with another six volumes answering common student questions regarding science. Each volume examines a science-related question, explaining the answer using age-appropriate language and terminology. This reviewer had the opportunity to examine How Do Fish Breathe?, a question that many children undoubtedly have wondered when watching fish in a tank or in the wild. The volume explains how oxygen is present in water and how fish use their gills to help distribute oxygen throughout their bodies. The volume closes with a brief chapter mentioning how climate change is causing falling oxygen levels in the ocean. Each volume features numerous high quality photographs, diagrams, a glossary, and making connections questions. In addition, a QR code is present where readers can access online resources such as videos, links, and activities (word search, coloring page, etc.).
THOUGHTS: Children naturally are curious and questioning–this series is a great option to hand students with science related interests or questions. The series (and the online supplemental material) also would be useful in elementary classroom science lessons. Recommended.
Varnai, Elizabeth S. Illustrated by Kate Hartley. Hiking to the Top: What’s Happening on the Mountain. Vista Court Books, 2022. 978-0-962-84224-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PK-3.
Young readers explore and discover with a mother and son as they hike to the top of Lookout Mountain in Hiking to the Top: What’s Happening on the Mountain? by the author of Good Morning, Loon. Hiking challenges, such as climbing rocks and balancing on fallen trees, and common animal discoveries such as water striders and fawns are detailed in the text and illustrations. Camouflaged animals also are highlighted on many pages with names and thought bubbles. Throughout, the author and illustrator depict a sense of joy and discovery in being outdoors and spending time together while also sharing basic hiking information and nature facts. Back matter expands on the text for older readers, including information on hiking safety as well as natural history information on each of the animals in the book and additional sources of information.
THOUGHTS: This book will appeal to both animal lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike and provides a strong introduction to outdoor adventures for classrooms embarking or expanding on an outdoor or nature center field trip. Kate Hartley’s realistic watercolor illustrations immerse readers in the book’s setting and entice readers to step beyond the page into their own adventure. In addition, the detailed back matter provides a launch point for research. A strong option for populations with access to outdoor adventure.
In many places, schools may have a gym, library, computers, and a playground. Deep in the mountains, however, is an extraordinary school that is a little bit different. It does not have the items a typical school would have. It does have an amazing teacher who leads the class outside on a drawing adventure. What will they draw? Why dinosaurs of course!
THOUGHTS: A unique book about a drawing adventure! What student would not want to go outdoors to draw dinosaurs? A fun story that young dinosaur lovers will enjoy.
Rylant, Cynthia. Home is Where the Birds Sing. Beach Lane Books. 2022. 978-1-534-44957-2. $18.99. Grades K-2.
Home means many things to many different people. Home is where the birds are singing, or where you take a nap. Home can be the place where you are called “Sweetie” or “dear” or where there are stories to listen to and stories to tell. The sweet part of home is when you are gone, home is the place you return to and finally feel… at home.
THOUGHTS: A sweet book about the deep feeling of being home. In the diverse world we live in, home can be a lot of different things for different people. Home, no matter what it may look like or sound like, is the place where you simply feel at home.
The Antarctic Animal series features some of the most impressive animals on Earth: those that can survive the freezing cold Antarctica. This series spotlights some amazing animals and the characteristics that make them unique. This reviewer read the Antarctic Shag book which features information about Antarctica, then focuses specifically on the Antarctic Shag, a bird that is the only one of its species to live in Antarctica. The book informs readers about diet, size, shape, coloring, babies, and other interesting features of this bird.
THOUGHTS: This series is a great starter to learning about several different animals that live in Antarctica. Full photographic illustrations, large words, and additional information located in the back of the book make this series a great nonfiction series for younger readers.
Stead, Philip. I’d Like to be the Window for a Wise Old Dog. Doubleday Books for Young Readers. 2022. 978-0-593-37509-9. $18.99. Grades K-3.
I wonder if I’ll ever be, I wonder if I’ll ever see are all common questions in this book. I wonder if I will be the dawdle of a penguin or the tumble of a honeybee. Throughout all of this, the reader knows that I would like to be the window for a wise old dog. The questions and wondering of things that are possible or things that are not possible are filled in this book, making the reader wonder about these impossibilities, too.
THOUGHTS: This is a book filled with the thoughts of things we can never be and wondering what it would be like to be those impossible things. It is gentle book, with colorful illustrations decorating these questions, presenting the reader with imaginary thoughts.