Elem. – Love Birds

Yolen, Jane. Love Birds. Cameron Kids, 2022. 978-1-951-83640-5. $17.99. 32 p. Grades K-3.

Jane Yolen’s newest picture book tells the story of a shy and quiet boy named Jon. Jon and his mother recently have moved to a new town. While his mother makes friends easily and eagerly chats with new neighbors, Jon is quiet. As he walks through his new neighborhood, Jon hears the sounds of children at play, and adults doing yard work. Jon listens to everything, but he loves listening to birds. He can identify dozens of different birds by their calls. Jon especially loves owls. On an evening walk through the woods Jon hears the call of a barred owl. Jon eagerly calls back, moving closer and closer to the owl’s song. When Jon discovers the beautiful bird call is made by a girl named Janet, he suddenly isn’t shy, and he is no longer quiet. Janet is a kindred spirit, a bird lover, and a listener. Janet and Jon become the best of friends, birding together as their friendship spans over years and turns to love.

THOUGHTS: A gentle affirmation for quiet children with unique interests. Sometimes the best friends are the best listeners. Yolen’s end-notes indicate Love Birds is meant to be a companion to her Caldecott Award winning book Owl Moon. Gorgeous illustrations by Anna Wilson depict each bird in great detail. 

Picture Book          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD

Elem. – Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls

Whipple, Annette. Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls. Reycraft Books, 2020. 978-1-478-86962-7. 32 p. $17.95. Grades 1-3. 

Children and adults have long been fascinated with owls. Likely many of our students have read a fictional story featuring an owl or heard the hoot of an owl while camping, hiking, or just relaxing in their backyard. In Whooo Knew?, readers have the opportunity to learn more about these amazing creatures. Information about owl characteristics, life cycle, and habitat are introduced by the author posing a question (for example: “Can Owls Spin Their Heads?”, “What Good Are Ear Tufts?”, and “What Do Owl Babies Do?”). Each question is answered in an informational two page spread featuring numerous photographs. The title also includes a section on what readers can do to help owls, and backmatter includes a glossary, instructions on dissecting an owl pellet, and illustrations of owl anatomy.

THOUGHTS: This engaging non-fiction title is sure to be a hit with students, who will find it useful for research as well as casual reading. The structure of the book, with each topic introduced by catchy questions, will catch the attention of readers and the numerous photos of owl species and close-up views of owl characteristics will allow readers to appreciate these amazing animals. Recommended.

*Note: This book is by a Pennsylvania author.

598.97 Owls          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Habitat Hunter (Series NF)

Potts, Nikki. Habitat Hunter. Ill. Maarten Lenoir, Picture Window Books, 2020. 31 p. $132.24 set of 6. $21.99 ea. Grades PreK-2.

Frog Moves out of the Rain Forest. 978-1-977-11423-5. 
Goat Moves out of the Barnyard.
Meerkat Moves out of the Desert
. 978-1-977-11419-8.
Owl Moves out of the Forest. 978-1-977-11424-2.
Penguin Moves out of the Antarctic. 978-1-977-11422-8.
Shark Moves out of the Ocean.

“Meerkats, meerkats everywhere!” (1), and Meerkat is not happy about it.  She wants a new home she does not have to share, so she sets out to find her new home. Meerkat tries the mountains, but they’re too quiet. She tries a cave, but it’s too cold and has too many bats.  Next she tries a playground; it seems like a great home with all of the tunnels, but the slide is too hot, and the monkey bars are too high. After trying a garden, Meerkat decides her own home is the best home and returns to it.

THOUGHTSMeerkat Moves out of the Desert is a fun way for young readers to learn about meerkats. Combining both pictures and illustrations, readers learn about various homes for Meerkat while also learning why the new habitat isn’t quite right. In the end, Meerkat’s realization that her habitat is the best not only solidifies basic understanding of a meerkat, but it also teaches readers to appreciate their home and family and that something different is not always best.  This title, as with the other titles in this series, also includes a page about the highlighted animal (meerkats) and an “Animal Passport.” This title is also useful for teaching comparing and contrasting because of the various homes Meerkat considers.




Animals        Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

Elem. – Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

Gianferrari, Maria. Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 978-0-399-54842-0. 32 p. $16.99. Grades K-3.

Whoo-Ku Haiku shows readers what life is like for a family of great horned owls. High up in a tree, the mama and papa owls care for a pair of eggs, waiting for the day when they tap their way out of the shell and start their lives. After the eggs hatch into little fuzzy owlets, the mama and papa hunt for food and care for their babies while also protecting them from predators. Readers learn that life as an owl can be full of dangers – crows, hawks, and foxes all lurk around the owlets, waiting for the moment they are left unguarded and vulnerable. However, mama and papa are able to keep them safe. Mama cares for the birds by plucking and cleaning their plumes while papa fetches skunks for dinner. When the day comes for the owlets to try out their wings, they shakily bob and teeter in the air as the mama keeps a careful eye on them. When they successfully return to the nest after their inaugural flight, their clan is complete, and they enjoy being together under the moonlight.

THOUGHTS: This book is like a delightful piece of art. The illustrations, by Jonathan Voss, are beautifully done, and the text, all done in haiku, reads like a song. In haiku poetry, the writer is limited in their syllable count which means each word has to be carefully and purposefully chosen, and that is certainly the case in this book. What makes the poetry even more special is that while it reads like a song or a narrative, each haiku is packed with information about great horned owls, including what they eat, where they live, how they hunt, and who hunts them. Any reluctant non-fiction reader would enjoy this book. It would also be a great mentor text for teaching haiku as it demonstrates the beauty of poetry and the significance of choosing meaningful words.

598.9 Great Horned Owls          Danielle Corrao, Ephrata Area SD