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Gus & Me

Richards, Keith. 2014. Gus & Me: The Story of my Granddad and my First Guitar. Hachette Audio.

Keith Richards, the rough-edged, raspy-voiced, Rolling Stones guitarist, is hardly the man that comes to mind for a picture book writer and narrator, but then again, who better to tell the story of his first guitar?

Richards wins the listener over immediately with his folksy, working class Estuary English accent (think dropped h’s and “intrusive” r’s) and unmistakable fondness for his topics – his first guitar and his beloved Granddad, Gus. It was the musically talented Gus who introduced a young Keith Richards to the guitar, teaching him how to ‘old it, and suggesting the classical Malagueña(r) as the pinnacle of guitar mastery.

I have yet to see the print version of this story, but I don’t believe it could surpass the audio book.  A story with music at its heart needs music to be understood. Richards plays bits from Malagueña in appropriate spots throughout the story, and during a visit to a music shop in London, we hear Steve Jordan on drums.  Once, the listener even hears a little chuckle – not musical, but surprisingly sincere.  Richards collaborated with other authors, but this is obviously his story, and he delights in telling it.

(Run time: about 7 minutes)

My review of Gus & Me for AudioFile Magazine appears here with a small excerpt.  Take a listen!

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed. Or follow me on Twitter @shelfemployed

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

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Microbes, butterflies, and prairies

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HANDLE WITH CARE

An Unusual Butterfly Journey

by Loree Griffin Burns, photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Millbrook Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9342-9

Picture Book Nonfiction

Grades 2-5

Source: purchased

All opinions expressed are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some farms grow vegetables or grains, and some raise cows, sheep, chickens, or pigs. But have you ever heard of a butterfly farm? How do you raise a butterfly?

REVIEW

There are many different kinds of farms out there, but this is the first time I’ve heard of butterfly farms.  It makes a great deal of sense that there would be such a thing, I’ve just never thought about it before now. This book beautifully describes what happens on a Costa Rican butterfly farm, how the butterflies are raised and transported to places around the world.  The photographs do a wonderful job of illustrating what the author is describing.  The extra information at the end is very useful, explaining the insect life cycle in terms of butterflies, beetles, and flies.  The reference lists and glossary also make this a great resource as well as the link to further resources from the publisher.  A wonderful book that would be very useful in teaching children about the life cycle of butterflies.

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TINY CREATURES

The World of Microbes

by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Candlewick Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7315-4

Picture Book Nonfiction

Grades 1 and up

ABOUT THE BOOK

Find out how the smallest things on the planet do some of the biggest jobs in this intriguing introduction to the world of microbes. 

All around the world — in the sea, in the soil, in the air, and in your body — there are living things so tiny that millions could fit on an ant’s antenna. They’re busy doing all sorts of things, from giving you a cold and making yogurt to eroding mountains and helping to make the air we breathe. If you could see them with your eye, you’d find that they all look different, and that they’re really good at changing things into something else and at making many more microbes like themselves! From Nicola Davies comes a first exploration for young readers of the world’s tiniest living organisms.

REVIEW

Microbes as organisms too small to be seen by the human eye are a topic that would be hard for children to understand since it’s a rather abstract concept.  Nicola Davies has done an excellent job in explaining the concept of these small creatures that out number people by many millions to one.  The amazing world of microbes comes to life in Davies’ words and Sutton’s illustrations.  There is just enough detail to be interesting without becoming overly complicated for the intended audience.  The illustrations show the differences in sizes between different microbes and how different they look as well as how quickly they can multiply.  It’s a subject that can be rather overwhelming yet made palatable by the excellent work of Davies and Sutton.

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PLANT A POCKET OF PRAIRIE

by Phyllis Root, illustrations by Betsy Bowen

University of Minnesota Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8166-7980-5

Picture Book 

Grades 1 and up

Source: purchased

All opinions expressed are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Author Phyllis Root and illustrator Betsy Bowen last explored the vast, boggy peatlands of northern Minnesota in their book Big Belching Bog. Now, in Plant a Pocket of Prairie, Root and Bowen take young readers on a trip to another of Minnesota’s important ecosystems: the prairie.

Once covering almost 40 percent of the United States, native prairie is today one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. Plant a Pocket of Prairie teaches children how changes in one part of the system affect every other part: when prairie plants are destroyed, the animals who eat those plants and live on or around them are harmed as well. Root shows what happens when we work to restore the prairies, encouraging readers to “plant a pocket of prairie” in their own backyards.

By growing native prairie plants, children can help re-create food and habitat for the many birds, butterflies, and other animals that depend on them. “Plant cup plants,” Root suggests. “A thirsty chickadee might come to drink from a tiny leaf pool. Plant goldenrod. A Great Plains toad might flick its tongue at goldenrod soldier beetles.” An easy explanation of the history of the prairie, its endangered status, and how to go about growing prairie plants follows, as well as brief descriptions of all the plants and animals mentioned in the story.

With Betsy Bowen’s beautiful, airy illustrations capturing the feel of an open prairie and all its inhabitants, readers of all ages will be inspired to start planting seeds and watching for the many fascinating animals their plants attract. What a marvelous transformation could take place if we all planted a pocket of prairie!

REVIEW

While the focus of this book is on Minnesota prairie and wildlife, the principles in regard to building a small prairie in your backyard certainly apply to a lot of other places.  I loved how the author and illustrator go through the building of a prairie from one plant and animal to more and more until a full-blown prairie has taken root.  I enjoyed hearing about the different animals and plants and how interconnected their lives were. It was sad though to think how little prairie is left in its natural state.  This book would make a great teaching tool for teaching about the prairie habitat as well as teaching about environmental repair.  A great resource and enjoyable look at the beauty of the natural world that we would do well to take care of before it’s gone altogether.

Hands-on Science at Its Best: The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature

Today at Wrapped in Foil blog we have a discussion of a 2015 finalist for the  AAAS/SubaruSB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books in the Hands-on Science Book category, The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature (BBG Guides for a Greener Planet) by a team of educators from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and illustrated by László Veres.

kids-guide-to-exploring-nature

What a lovely title! First of all, the book is beautifully illustrated. In fact the illustrations are so detailed and complex, it could easily be used as a seek-and-find book for the youngest set.

It is also packed with information. Roughly organized by season, it has hands-on activities, explanations of careers (such as nature educator and field biologist), explanations of habitats, and identification guides.

The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature is an exciting new book for young nature lovers and scientists. Every nature educator is going to want a copy, as well.

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We have a summary of all the AAAS/SubaruSB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books finalists at Growing With Science blog, many with links to reviews.

Strike!: The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights

Strike!: The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights
by Larry Dane Brimner (Author)

Booktalk: In 1965, as the grapes in California’s Coachella Valley were ready to harvest, migrant Filipino American workers—who picked and readied the crop for shipping—negotiated a wage of $1.40 per hour, the same wage growers had agreed to pay guest workers from Mexico. But when the Filipino grape pickers moved north to Delano, in the Central Valley, and again asked for $1.40 an hour, the growers refused. The ensuing conflict set off one of the longest and most successful strikes in American history.

Snippet: The Delano grape workers wanted better wages. Growers only paid them 90 cents an hour, plus 10 cents a log, or box, of grapes picked. At the end of the day, the average picker earned about $1.20 per hour, while some other farm workers were earning more.

See more booktalks at the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2014 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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Tuesday Tucks Me In

Tuesday Tucks Me In

written by Luis Carlos Montalvan and Bret Witter

photographs by Dan Dion

2014 (Roaring Brook Press)

Source: Mebane Public Library

Look at that cover. How in the world was I going to pass this book up? Tuesday is a service dog for Luis Montalvan, a veteran of the Iraq War. The book is told from Tuesday’s point of view. He helps Luis navigate through the day. Luis has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Luis suffers from nightmares both day and night. Tuesday walks beside Luis to help him walk along the streets of Brooklyn. He helps calm Luis’s nerves when there are a lot of people around. Walking down stairs is challenging for Luis as he has difficulty with his balance. Grabbing Tuesday’s handle keeps him upright. It’s a wonderful relationship between man and beast.

This is a compelling story, but the star of the book is the photographs. Children will love seeing Tuesday with a toothbrush in his mouth or attempting to slurp an ice cream cone. I like the attention this book will bring to service dogs. Before Tuesday Tucks Me In, my experience with service dogs in children’s literature was through dry informational texts. This book will also allow young readers to begin to understand that war affects more than the body. Tuesday Tucks Me In celebrates the bond between a service dog and a veteran.

Janet Halfmann’s Animal Teachers

Our featured picture book today, Animal Teachers by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Katy Hudson has been been off to a great start since it was released in September. It has been nominated in the 2014 Cybils elementary/middle grade nonfiction category and has already won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2014 Gold Best award.

Animal Teachers

Have you ever wondered how baby animals learn? Are they born knowing everything they need to survive or do they learn from their parents and peers like we humans do? Animal Teachers will answer those questions with some surprising examples. The reader finds out that chicks need to be taught what proper food is and young cheetahs need to be taught how to run. Who would have guessed?

For the text Janet has used what could be described as a “reverse Q & A.” Each two-page spread first tells what a baby animal learns from its parents and then asks a few questions about similar things humans might do, drawing the reader in. It is a wonderful way to inspire conversations and deeper understanding.

You will definitely want to share this fascinating and sweet book with the animal lovers. It would also be a great resource for the classroom, allowing students to discover new things about animals and learning.

If you would like to learn more, try our full review at Wrapped in Foil, as well as some related information and activities at Growing With Science.

The United States Marines

The United States Marines (U.S. Military Forces)
by Michael Green (Author)

Booktalk: For younger readers, a simple introduction to the United States Marine Corps.

Snippet: The Marines quickly respond to threats against the United States. They are often the first troops called into battle.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

See more booktalks at the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

Copyright © 2014 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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