Elem. – Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey

Burleigh, Robert. Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey. Christy Ottaviano Books: Henry Holt and Company. 2020. 978-1-627-79369-8. $18.99. Grades K-4.

Behold, a tiny bird, no bigger than a quarter. This tiny bird takes its last drink at an orange flower, manages to bite one last bug, before it begins it’s difficult journey to it’s winter home. The bird faces many obstacles: hawks, storms, and anything in between. Some hummingbirds never complete the journey, including the 24 hour flight across the raging sea. Will this tiny bird make it to it’s winter home? We hope so!

THOUGHTS: This book is filled with tons of information about hummingbirds. In addition to the great information provided, the book is illustrated with beautiful colors, showing the beauty of nature and this tiny bird.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Beehive

Hurley, Jorey. Beehive. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-481-47003-2. $17.99. Grades PreK-K.

A simple picture book, Beehive explores the world of a honeybee. Using one word on a page, this beautifully illustrated book shares different events in a bee’s life. We see the bee FLY, EXPLORE, and POLLINATE. We watch as the bee LAYs, FEEDs, and GROWs. A fun picture book filled with important words that can help explain the life of a honeybee!

THOUGHTS: My favorite part of this book actually appears in the author’s notes. The author uses each word from the book and explains the life of the honeybee in further detail. This would be a fantastic piece of information to use for continuing education of the honeybee or for older students who may require more information.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Green on Green

White, Dianne. Green on Green. Beach Lane Books, 2020. 978-1-481-46278-5. 48 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Dianne White’s beautifully designed book, illustrated by award-winning Felicita Sala, is an ode to seasons and the colors they bring to the world. The most prominent color, however, is green, which makes an appearance in every season. Sometimes the color green is bold like in spring when the flowers are blooming and the grass is sparkling from a recent rainstorm; other times it is subtle like the snow-covered pines in winter or the color of a sweater in fall. White’s book celebrates the beauty of a year in nature while also showing the beauty of a year in the life of a family. As the seasons change, the family in the book spends time together, enjoying the different events each season brings – flower picking in the spring, seaside bathing in the summer, pumpkin picking in the fall, and wood chopping in the winter. The changes brought on in life are also punctuated by the mother, whose pregnant belly grows with each season until a sibling is born, and the older brother sees the beauty of sharing those seasonal family moments with him.

THOUGHTS: Green on Green is an interesting addition to other children’s books about seasons as it shows how changes in human life can parallel the changing seasons of nature. Children will enjoy searching for the lighthouse, featured on many pages as a permanent symbol of stability while everything else changes around it. With rhyming, musical prose paired with vibrant, detailed illustrations, readers of all ages can find joy reading about the changes each year brings in nature, family, and life.

Picture Book          Danielle Corrao, Ephrata Area SD

Picture Books – Goldfish Ghost; Life; Three Billy Goats; Peterrific

Snicket, Lemony. Goldfish Ghost. Roaring Brook Press, 2017: ISBN 978-1-62672-507-2. 36pp. 17.99. Gr. K-3.

Goldfish Ghost is born in a bowl in a boy’s bedroom, but after floating and staring at the ceiling for a while, he becomes bored and drifts through the air towards the room’s open window in search of some company. He floats over the town’s fishing pier, past some shops, and near the haunted lighthouse. He considers befriending a flock of seagulls, but they are too noisy and are preoccupied with the fishing boats. Everyone he passes in town already has a companion, so he drifts toward the beach. All the beachgoers are busy reading, sunbathing, digging, or swimming, and no one pays him any attention there either. He does spot the ghosts of deceased sea creatures floating over the water, but Goldfish Ghost doesn’t feel quite at home on top of the ocean either. As night falls, Goldfish Ghost hears a voice calling to him from the haunted lighthouse. The ghost of the lighthouse keeper scoops him up, each recognizing that they finally have the sort of company they’ve been searching for. This title’s India ink and watercolor illustrations are filled with fun visuals including families enjoying a day at the beach and people navigating through a seaside town, and students will likely spot new details each time the book is reread. Observant readers will also spot other ghosts, including some old-fashioned beachgoers, in the detailed illustrations.  THOUGHTS:  Although this story’s main character is a ghost, this is not the typical creepy, scary ghost story. Instead, it’s a story about finding friendship and a place to belong. It also presents a fresh perspective about dead pets and will be a winner with readers who enjoy slightly eerie yet comical stories.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

 

Rylant, Cynthia. Life. Beach Lane Books, 2017.  978-1-4814-5162-8. 43pp. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

This book beautifully pairs Cynthia Rylant’s lyrical text with Caldecott Honor-winner Brendan Wenzel’s stunning paintings of the natural world and its many animals. The result is striking; a concise, yet powerful tribute to life’s many twists, turns, mountains, valleys, and surprises. Each page contains only a line or two of text, letting Wenzel’s vibrant paintings shine. The book begins succinctly, noting that life begins small. Following pages depict a baby elephant and a tiny seedling growing beneath the sun’s rays and the moon’s glow. Several animals express what they love most about life, describing simple things such as sky, grass, sand, and rain. Subsequent pages depict how life might not always be easy or beautiful, showing animals braving dark skies, fierce winds, craggy mountains, and thorny underbrush. But eventually, the wilderness ends, and new roads are visible. In a beautiful spread featuring a deer watching a flock of birds fly across a moonlit sky, Rylant reminds readers that life is always changing, and it’s worth waking up each morning to see what a new day holds.  THOUGHTS: This inspirational book can be shared with guidance counselors who could perhaps use it to reassure students who are having a challenging time or who are facing some obstacle in their life. It will also be a good fit for units exploring animals and their many habitats, and it shines as an example of how to boil writing down to just the most essential words and ideas.

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

 

Pinkney, Jerry. The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Little, Brown, and Company, 2017. 978-0-316-34157-8. 40pp. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

With beautiful pencil and watercolor illustrations and a freshly-imagined ending, Jerry Pinkney breathes new life into this classic tale. Many original elements remain: three billy goats wish to cross a troll-guarded bridge so they can graze on the opposite river bank’s green grass. The littlest billy goat goes first, and he convinces the troll to spare him, promising a bigger billy goat will be crossing soon. His prediction is correct, and soon, a second goat attempts to cross. The troll threatens to gobble him up, but he urges the troll to wait for Big Billy Goat Gruff. Sure enough, Big Billy Goat Gruff comes crashing across the bridge, and when confronted by the troll, he lowers his head and charges, knocking the troll into the water. In the water, a giant fish demands to know who is splish-splashing in his river, and he threatens to gobble up the troll. The troll escapes and paddles back to the riverbank. He finds himself on the opposite side of the river, however, and he watches as the entire herd of billy goats crosses over the bridge to eat the green grass on the hillside. Careful readers will notice that this is not the end of the story, however. On the last page of the book, the troll begins gathering stones to build himself a new house, and the littlest billy goat races over the bridge to help him. The final endpapers depict goats traveling freely back and forth across the bridge, as well as other goats coming to assist the troll with his building, suggesting that these characters might ultimately work out a peaceful coexistence.  THOUGHTS:  This stunning retelling is destined to become a classic, and readers will pour over the artwork again and again. The reimagined ending offers readers the chance to experience bullying from a fresh point of view, and it opens the door for discussions about big ideas such as confronting adversity, forgiveness, redemption, and tolerance. This will be a valuable addition to all elementary collections.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

 

Kann, Victoria. Peterrific. Harper, 2017.  978-0-06-256357-6. 36pp. $18.89. Gr. K-3.

Pinkalicious is back, but this time, her brother Peter is the star of the story. Peter’s goal is to build a block tower high enough to reach the stars, so while he builds, Pinkalicious borrows wagon-loads of blocks from all the neighbors. Peter’s tower grows and grows, but once he’s high in the sky, he realizes it can be lonely, and a little scary, at the top. When he spies a high-flying bird passing by, Peter brainstorms an idea for leaving his tower, and once he reaches the ground, he’s quick to imagine ideas for how to construct an even better one. There’s lots to look at in this book’s brightly colored mixed media digital illustrations, and readers will enjoy spotting trains, a slinky, crayons, binoculars, and other toys tucked in among the blocks of Peter’s growing tower.  THOUGHTS: This book is perfect for teaching elements of Design Thinking since Peter works through Asking, Imagining, Planning, Creating, and Improving as he builds his tower. He begins by asking himself how he might create a tall, tall tower. Then, he imagines designing a structure tall enough to reach the stars, and he plans by drawing pictures of his ideas. He uses blocks, tape, rope, and glue to create and hold together his tower, and he continuously adds more blocks so he can improve his design. Once he’s at the top of the tower, he also realizes the tower has some problems: there’s no way to get down, and it might be structurally unsafe. Once he’s safely on the ground again, Peter draws a plan for a new and improved tower, underscoring the ideas in the circular Design Thinking process.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

 

Series NF for Elementary & MS – Investigating Natural Disasters

Elkins, Elizabeth.  Investigating Natural Disasters. Capstone, 2017. $20.99ea. $83.96 set of 4. 32p. Gr. 3-7.

Investigating Earthquakes. 978-1-51574-038-4.

Investigating Floods. 978-1-51574-040-7.

Investigating Hurricanes. 978-1-51574-039-1.

Investigating Tornadoes. 978-1-51574-037-7.

The Investigating Natural Disasters series aims to inform readers about four of the most common natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The forces that form each type of disaster and explained and scientific terminology is defined within callout boxes present throughout the chapters. The role and scientists, meteorologists and other forecasters in predicting events is also highlighted. Well-known examples of each type of disaster are included within the text. Disaster safety tips, for before, during, and after each each event are presented and discussed. THOUGHTS: This engaging series offers interested readers a good introduction to the science behind the natural disasters most likely to strike in the United States. A solid choice for student researchers and casual readers alike.

Geology; Meteorology      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District

Picture Books – Lost Gift; Hensel & Gretel; Wonderfall

lostgift

George, Kallie. The Lost Gift. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016. 978-0-553-52481-p. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr PreK-2.

It’s Christmas Eve and four forest friends are happy to catch a glimpse of Santa and his sleigh. A gust of wind drops a package nearby and Deer, Bird, Rabbit, and Squirrel realize that it’s meant for the New Baby at a nearby farm. The friends decide to deliver the package for Santa and spend a long, cold, hungry night delivering the gift. While they have second thoughts (especially grumpy Squirrel), they realize that it was worth the effort when they see New Baby’s delight at her new rattle. The animals trudge home and find a gift from Santa waiting in the snow—a delicious treat to fill their empty bellies. When Squirrel wonders “But how did he know?” Rabbit replies “Santa always knows.” Stephanie Graegin’s simple and colorful illustrations create a real feeling of the season. THOUGHTS: This sweet, simple holiday story will be enjoyed by little kids and big kids alike.

Picture Book     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

 

ninjachicks

Schwartz, Corey Rosen, and Rebecca J. Gomez. Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-0399176265. 40pp. $17.99.  Gr. K – 3.

A companion book to The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood, this book is just as action packed and fun! Their mother is missing, so these smart sisters decide to get some proactive ninja training at the 3 Pigs Dojo, where the motto is “Get Empowered, Not Devoured.” When their father goes missing, they follow, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind. Bad idea, but they persevere. When suddenly a tempting cornbread house is found, will Hensel and Gretel be able to escape temptation? Fortunately one of these fowls keeps their head and is able to sneak in, distracting the fox to rescue Ma. The other, after a momentary lapse of judgement picks the lock and joins the fray!  THOUGHTS: The fast pace and perfect rhymes in this book match the success of the other two books by these fabulous collaborators. Girls and boys alike will get a kick out of these powerful poultry.

Picture Book      Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

wonderfall

Hall, Michael. Wonderfall. New York: Greenwillow, 2016. 978-0-06-238298-6. Uppaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

“In this book you will discover 1 colorful tree, 2 scurrying squirrels, and 15 blended words created to celebrate the wonder of fall!” This is the description in the inside jacket, and it sets the stage for the contents that follows. With short, simple, and touching poems that are accessible to younger readers, Hall has created a very attractive autumn book. The colorful collage illustrations will call Ehlert and Carle to mind, and closer exploration shows several continuing mini-stories with the squirrels. The titles of each poem replace the suffix -ful/full with the seasonal -fall, and it makes the words more meaningful… I mean, meaningfall! Enjoy this seasonal sensation – you’ll be thankfall that you did.  THOUGHTS: This would be a fun lesson on playing with words, studying suffixes, or creating short poems. The end of the book also connects back to animals who appear in the book and describes how they survive the coming winter. Plus, there’s a page about those pesky squirrels and their protective oak tree.

Picture Book      Dustin Brackbill, State College Area

Nature Picture Books – Beyond the Pond; Polar Regions

beyondthepond

Kuefler, Joseph. Beyond the Pond. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2015. 978-0062364272. 40p. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

“Just behind an ordinary house filled with too little fun, Ernest D had decided today would be the day that he’d explore the depths of his pond.” Accompanied by his spotted dog, he throws in a variety of objects and is thrilled to determine that his pond is bottomless. He and his dog then plunge in armed with an old diver helmet, flashlight and other “explorer supplies,” and swim through the dark and wondrous deep which opens up on a wild world on the other side. This is a fun and beautifully illustrated book about imagination, exploring, and playing in the wild. THOUGHTS: I read aloud Beyond the Pond along with last year’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, and the 1988 classic Henry the Explorer by Mark Taylor and Graham Booth. This lesson featured a fun compare and contrast discussion; all three books feature a companion dog and some similar tools, but each book takes a different approach to exploring and fantasy vs. reality.

Picture Book    Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

 

about habitats

Sill, Cathryn. About Habitats: Polar Regions. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2015. 978-1-56145-832-5. 48pp. $16.95. Grades K-3.

This nonfiction title pairs straightforward introductory information about the polar regions with stunning watercolor illustrations. On each spread, the left-hand page contains one sentence about either the Arctic or the Antarctic, and the right-hand page features a related illustration. The text describes how animals and plants survive in this harsh environment, and it also describes some of the daylight and temperature fluctuations these regions experience. The realistic watercolor illustrations provide additional insight about the fish, mammals, birds, and plants that make their homes here. The Afterword, at the back of the book, includes additional facts about life in some of the coldest places on Earth. A glossary and list of recommended websites rounds out the backmatter.  THOUGHTS:  This title will be a valuable resource for students studying biomes. The text is easily accessible and unintimidating, yet more in-depth details that will round out research are shared in the backmatter.

Science; Habitats   Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

New Picture Books – The Skunk; North Woods Girl

The Skunk

Barnett, Mac. The Skunk. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2015. 9781596439665. 32pp. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

What do you do when a skunk appears on your doorstep and follows you all over the city? That is the problem a tuxedo-wearing man faces in this quirky story by Mac Barnett and Patrick McDonnell. The narrator attempts to shake the skunk, but the animal follows him down streets, around corners, and to cafes. It tails him even after he hails a cab, visits the opera, and takes a spin on the Ferris wheel. After escaping into the sewers, the narrator finally emerges and begins a skunk-free life in a new part of the city. Eventually, though, he begins to wonder about his striped pursuer. In a reversal of roles, he retraces his steps until he locates the animal, vowing to keep an eye on him so he doesn’t get followed again.  THOUGHTS:  McDonnell’s mostly black and white palette visually connects the man and the skunk, and readers will enjoy watching how the skunk’s movements and gestures mimic the narrator’s.  Both children and adults will enjoy this paranoid pursuit up street and down alley all over the city.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

 

 

north woods girl

Bissonette, Aimee. North Woods Girl. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2015. 9780873519663. 32p. $16.95. Gr. K-3.

Each changing season brings something new to celebrate and someplace different to explore in this gentle intergenerational story about a city girl and her beloved grandmother who lives in the woods. The unnamed narrator loves visiting her grandmother in the north woods. In the springtime, they hike to the pond and peer through binoculars at the migrating ducks. In the summer, they rest in the evergreens’ cool shade, and in the fall, they watch squirrels gather seeds and nuts. Winter is their favorite season, and they take moonlit walks through the cold snow, listening for hooting owls. Vibrant scratchboard and watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the love shared between grandmother and granddaughter. This title celebrates nature’s quiet moments, suggesting that the simplest pleasures are sometimes best enjoyed with someone you care about the most.  THOUGHTS:  This title will tie in nicely with units about the changing seasons since the girl and her grandmother have different traditions and activities for each time of year. It will also be a good fit for Grandparents Day celebrations since it depicts a free-spirited, active, outdoorsy grandparent.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County