Elem. – Bark Park: Scouting for Clues

Dougherty, Brandi. Bark Park: Scouting for Clues. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2021. 978-1-524-86474-3. $6.99. Grades K-2.

Bark Park: Scouting for Clues is the second book in the Epic! Originals Bark Park series! Scouting for Clues contains new adventures for Scout and his friends in the dog park. First, his blueberries go missing! Scout remembers where he left his blueberries and cannot believe that they are all gone! Scout will have to retrace his steps to figure out where his blueberries have gone. As the book continues, Scout continues to face new adventures, solve new problems, and make new friends along the way!

THOUGHTS: A great story to add to any beginning reader’s/animal lover’s bookshelf! This book contains colorful illustrations with easy to read text that will delight young readers.

Adventure          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Onyx: The Wolf Who Found a New Way to be a Leader

Murrrow, Vita. Onyx: The Wolf Who Found a New Way to be a Leader (True Stories of Animal Heroes). Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2021. 978-0-711-26145-7. p. 32. $15.99. Grades K-2. 

Onyx, a wolf pup that lived in Yellowstone National Park, was the smallest and scruffiest wolf in his litter. The runt in the wolf pack was often bullied by his siblings and had to learn skills to survive. However, Onyx grew older and learned leadership skills that served him well in the wild. One day, Onyx came across a wolf family with a lone mother wolf and young pups who had lost their male “alpha” wolf. With time, Onyx became a father figure to the pack and was attentive to a tiny wolf pup named Bravo. Bravo struggled to listen, would sometimes bite and snarl, and often pushed back in stressful situations. Onyx, now grown and showing signs as a leader, had a similar background and took a liking to the young pup. Onyx became a father figure to young Bravo and showed the young wolf how to interact in their world in different ways. This heartwarming story has a fact section at the back of the book that teaches the reader about the real-life reintroduction of wolves that occurred in 1995 in Yellowstone National Park. With time, this movement helped to restore and balance the failing ecosystem. 

THOUGHTS: Onyx, written by Vita Murrow, is part of the True Stories of Animal Heroes series. In 1995, it was indeed true that wolves were brought from Canada to the United States to help increase the movement and population of many animals in Yellowstone National Park. The facts in this story, particularly the story with two wolves now known as Onyx and Bravo, were observed by wildlife observers and biologists.

This picture book was engaging yet not lengthy (considering how much information was contained in the pages). If all the books in this series are as heartwarming and informative as this story, this series would be a great addition to any classroom, school library, or personal library collection. 

Picture Book. Marie Mengel, Reading SD

Elem. – The Science of Animal Movement (Series NF)

Huddleston, Emma. The Science of Animal Movement. Abdo. 2021. Book: $21.95, Series of 6: $131.70. Grades 2-5.

How Birds Fly. 978-1-532-19292-0.
How Bugs Jump. 978-1-532-19293-7.
How Critters Climb. 978-1-532-19294-4.
How Fish Swim. 978-1-532-19295-1.
How Mammals Run. 978-1-532-19296-8.
How Snakes Slither. 978-1-532-19297-5.

The Science of Animal Movement series describes how animals are able to move depending on their body, size, and its surroundings. The Reviewer read How Birds Fly, focusing specifically on birds. How Birds Fly provides information on how the wide category of birds can move in a variety of ways. From the largest of birds, to the smallest, coast to coast and in every possible biome, birds are found and able to move differently compared to others of the same type.

THOUGHTS: This series provides great information on the science behind the movement of animals. The books come with several different information pieces, including large photographs, colorful text, links & QR codes, diagrams, charts, and more.

500s          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – The Longest Letsgoboy

Wilder, Derick. The Longest Letsgoboy. Chronicle Books. 978-1-452-17716-8. 32 p. $16.99. Grades K-3. 

This is the story of one old dog’s final walk with the child he refers to as his “foreverfriend.” The dog’s playful first-person narration allows readers to experience the world through his eyes and through his made-up language. On the last day of his life, he and a young girl take a long walk through an autumn woods. The dog smells familiar scents and sees the same animals and trees he’s seen many times before, but on this walk, he moves slowly and feels tired. With his one good ear, he listens carefully to bird calls, telling him they will keep an eye on his “foreverfriend.” Later that evening, as shadows stretch across the yard, the dog circles and settles one final time. Although this is one of the most emotional sections of the book, Catia Chien’s masterful abstract illustrations lighten the tone and communicate what is happening to the dog in an age-appropriate way. The beautiful pages show the dog passing peacefully into a sky filled with bright colors, and it’s clear he feels no pain. Throughout the book, the colors in the mixed media illustrations morph to deftly match the emotions being expressed throughout the seasons of the year and the seasons of life. 

THOUGHTS: While this is clearly a story about loss, it’s also a story about love. The special bond between the girl and her dog is beautifully portrayed, and both the text and the illustrations will strike a chord with any reader who has experienced the loss of a pet. Share this title with guidance counselors to begin conversations with students who may be grieving their own loss. 

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – Inside Cat

Wenzel, Brendan. Inside Cat. Chronicle Books, 2021. 978-1-452-17319-1. 36 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Inside Cat spends its days peering through many different kinds of windows in its house. Each window is a different size or shape and presents a different view of the city. Inside Cat takes in scenes of everything from flowers to birds, towers to balloons. It sees big machines, small mice, bright traffic lights, and dark nighttime skies. The cat also uses its wild imagination to fill in gaps about what it’s seeing and to help make sense of the world. Since it spends so much time looking through windows, Inside Cat assumes it’s an expert about the world. But, when an outside door is left open, Inside Cat forms entirely new ideas. Brief, rhyming text winds its way across each double-page spread as Inside Cat moves from window to window, constantly seeing the world from different perspectives. The illustrations, composed from a variety of media including cut paper, colored pencil, oil pastels, marker, and the computer, are the true stars of the story. Careful readers will notice new details each time the story is shared. In particular, they will enjoy searching for the mice and watching what antics they are up to on each spread. 

THOUGHTS: Use this text during creative writing activities to spark ideas about seeing the world from different perspectives and using your imagination. 

Picture Book. Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Pet stories. Perspective fiction. Stories in rhyme. 

Elem. – Have You Seen Gordon? 

Epstein, Adam Jay, and Ruth Chan. Have You Seen Gordon? Simon & Schuster, 2021. 978-1-534-47736-0. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Have You Seen Gordon is an interesting take on the concept of I Spy. The first few pages the reader is being introduced to finding Gordon; however, it becomes apparent that Gordon doesn’t want to hide. The characters are talking with the narrator throughout the second half of the book, until they come to an agreement about the ultimate direction of the book.

THOUGHTS: The fact that the characters spoke up about not wanting to fit in (or be found) is an unexpected piece of this book that I appreciated. The ending wraps the whole book up nicely and makes the reader feel like the ending came naturally.

Picture Book            Mary McEndree, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – Red

Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. Red. Neal Porter Books. 978-0-823-44712-1. 38 p. $18.99. Grades K-3. 

With just two words on each spread, the illustrations and the emotions they evoke take center-stage in this title about a young fox’s separation and ultimate reunion with his family. After becoming separated, the fox leaves the forest and explores nearby fields, roads, and farms. He also sees humans and their fences, wheelbarrows, nails, and trucks. He is eventually caught in a metal trap and displays some of the strongest emotions in the book. A young girl empathizes with the trapped animal, releasing him back into the wild where he eventually reunites with his family. Full-page illustrations featuring acrylic paint on canvas depict many shades of red in both the natural world and the man-made one. Each shade corresponds with something the young fox is exploring or experiencing. This title completes the trilogy that includes the Caldecott Honor book Green and the acclaimed Blue. An Author’s Note at the end describes the way these three books are linked as well as some of the inspiration behind the series. 

THOUGHTS: Students will feel the connection between color and emotions as they page through this title. The links between the emotions the fox experiences and the colors used to convey the world around him will spark discussions during morning meetings as students explore feelings like anger, fear, courage, joy, empathy, and love. 

Picture Book. Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – The Chicken House

In this early reader adventure, The Chicken Squad is back for another adventure. Sugar, Dirt, Sweetie, and Poppy live in the triangle chicken house with their mother. Dirt likes to read by the window, Sweetie likes to draw on the walls, Poppy likes to rest in a big shoe, and mother Moosh likes when everyone is home. Home is a bit crowded though. J.J. lives in a doghouse that has a bathtub; a big, soft bed; and a table for massages. Sugar invites her siblings to the more spacious dog house, and each enjoys having a little elbow room. But Moosh misses her chicks, and J.J. notices his dog house isn’t like it used to be. Will everyone find a way to be comfortable and feel at home? This text has longer sentences with simple chapters and high-interest vocabulary words. 

THOUGHTS: A fun twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this chicken adventure will garner laughs of emerging readers.

Early Reader          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Elem./MG – Encyclopedias for Kids

Encyclopedias for Kids. Abdo. 2021. $27.95 ea. Set of 4 $111.80. Grades 4-8.

Garcia, Merriam. The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids. 978-1-532-19299-9.
—.
The Dog Encyclopedia for Kids. 978-1-532-19300-2.
Pembroke, Ethan. The Horse Encyclopedia for Kids. 978-1-532-19301-9.
—.
The Shark Encyclopedia for Kids. 978-1-532-19302-6.

The reviewer read The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids. This series of encyclopedias provides readers with information on a variety of breeds for cats, dogs, horses, or sharks. Readers will find information on the breed, history, and behaviors of the animal. Each animal title contains bright photographs expressing the breed in a variety of ways and ages in life. These encyclopedias will provide great information to a variety of well loved animals!

THOUGHTS: This encyclopedia is very well done! The information is easy to understand, pages are color coated and appealing to the eye, and the photographs are large, clear, and able to provide a lot of insight to the breed it shows!

599.75 Felines         Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Saving Animals from the Brink (Series NF)

Cooke, Tim. Saving Animals from the Brink. Bearport. 2021. Individual Book: $19.95, Set: $119.70. Grades 3-6.

A Chemical Nightmare: Bald Eagle Comeback. 978-1-636-91045-1.
Fur-tastrophe Avoided: Southern Sea Otter Comeback. 978-1-636-91048-2.
Return to Yellowstone: Gray Wolf Comeback. 978-1-636-91046-8.
Saving the Silvertip: Grizzly Bear Comeback. 978-1-636-91047-5.
A Scary Prediction: Bison Comeback. 978-1-636-91044-4.
Struggle for Survival: Florida Panther Comeback. 978-1-636-91049-9.

The reviewer read A Chemical Nightmare: Bald Eagle Comeback. This series is presented in a graphic novel format showing animals who have made a comeback from endangerment and extinction. Author Tim Cooke writes the amazing stories of some of America’s beloved creatures and the people who helped save them from extinction. Readers are able to learn the history of these animals and people in comic-book style, as well as learn more information at the end of the book with photographs of the animal. Readers will get sucked into these tales and may grow an interest in helping save some amazing animals.

THOUGHTS: A short, but interesting read about some of America’s famous animals and the people who helped save them. The graphic novel style helps pull young readers in, utilizing a favorite format of writing.

Graphic Novel          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD