Here is the World

here is the worldHere is the World
by Leslea Newman; illus. by Susan Gal
48 pages; ages 4-7
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014

Beginning with the naming ceremony and weekly observance of Shabbat, this book celebrates a year of Jewish Holidays. And published just in time for the beginning of a new year – Rosh Hashana begins Wednesday evening.

“Here are some clouds and a cool autumn breeze.
Here are the leaves, falling down from the trees.
Here is the shofar, its sound pure and sweet.
Here are some apples and honey to eat.”

As the seasons turn, the soft, warm illustrations invite us to join in the family’s celebrations: Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, Passover .

There is something for everyone in this book, whether you are celebrating the holidays or seeking information for a school report. There’s a great section at the back that includes notes on the holidays and crafts and recipes for each ceremony: noodle kugel for Yom Kippur, latkes (of course!), a noisemaker for the Purim parade and – for those of you who are still looking for the perfect way to welcome the new year, potato-print cards for Rosh Hashana.

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Copyright © 2014 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter


Plants Feed Me

plants feed mePlants Feed Me
by Lizzy Rockwell
32 pages; ages 4-7
Holiday House, 2014

Every gardening season is different, and this year things seem to be ripening later than last year. A couple weeks ago we had a bumper-crop of tomatoes and peppers, with melons and pumpkins coming in late.

So harvest season seems to be a good time to share a book about garden-fresh fruits and vegetables. Lizzy Rockwell begins with a picture of a child nose-deep in a slice of watermelon. “I am a plant eater,” she writes. Then she takes us on a tour of the garden, showing the different parts of plants we eat: leaves, stems, roots, flowers, bulbs, tubers… and fruits.

Everyone knows that apples and blueberries are fruits. But tomatoes and pumpkins? Aren’t they vegetables? Nope. If it’s got a seed, it’s a fruit. Speaking of which, we eat seeds, too: beans, rice, wheat, and nuts.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for a scavenger hunt and more beyond-the-book activities.

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Copyright © 2014 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter


The September 22nd Round-up

  • Add your post to the weekly Nonfiction Monday Round-up on this group blog!
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    1. Become a member of this group blog and add your post to our lineup each week so it will be mailed to our subscribers on Mondays.

    2. Share a link to your blog post by adding a comment to this Sunday call for posts announcement.

      • On the Nonfiction Monday blog, click on the heart at the upper right of the post to open the comments.

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We look forward to seeing what you’re reading…so we can read it too!

Copyright © 2014 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved. Site Meter

Exploring Oceans with Children’s Books

This week I had some wonderful books come across my desk with an ocean theme, so I’ve decided to devote the week to them.

First up is a biography, Sylvia Earle: Ocean Explorer (Women in Conservation) by Dennis Fertig.


Sylvia Earle is an amazing woman. She is a scientist and conservationist who has devoted her life to oceans. At last count she has logged more than 7,000 hours underwater! She is also in the news this fall because she is the subject of the documentary, Mission Blue.

Sylvia Earle: Ocean Explorer is a timely addition to any library. Pull it out to learn about marine science, women’s history or save it for Earth Day. See Growing with Science blog for a full review and related activities (being added throughout the week).

If children are inspired to learn more about oceans, here are two informational books to get them started.

Beginning readers might be ready to explore Oceans and Seas (Acorn: Water, Water Everywhere!) by Diyan Leake, available soon.


Parents and teachers should read the last page of Oceans and Seas first, because it offers some well-thought-out ideas for activities to do with children before and after reading the book. As you would expect from a beginning reader, the text is age appropriate and the sentences are short.

Oceans (Habitat Survival) by Claire Llewellyn is for slightly older children, grades 2-4.


It would be appropriate for learning about the ecology of oceans. It explains concepts like the ocean zones, habitats, and food webs. A brief summary of threats to our oceans and ideas about how to protect them is also included.

A review of both these books is available at Wrapped in Foil blog.

Colors of the Wind

At the age of 15 George Mendoza suddenly began to go blind. In only a few months he had lost most of his sight, retaining only his peripheral vision. Despite what must have been a devastating loss, Mendoza found ways to overcome his disability. He first found an outlet in running: setting the world record for a mile run by a blind runner and twice going to the Olympics for the Disabled. Later, at the prompting of a priest friend who told him to paint what he saw, he began to turn his visions of colors and shapes into works of art.

Those works of art are the clear stars of this book. Each page layout has a full page full-color image of one of Mendoza’s bright joyful paintings. Many kids will enjoy looking at the book solely for the paintings alone. The story itself is told in spare prose on the other page of each layout accompanied by a simple pen and ink illustration. The illustrations often have a bit of color from the painting on the paired page which works well to tie everything together. The text by author J. L. Powers gives a summary version of Mendoza’s story, focusing on his determination to share his unique “vision” of the world.

The only thing I wished with this book was for slightly more information. There is an author’s note at the end which fleshes out some of the details of the story that are skimmed over in the text. However, I think even young kids will feel that there are places in the story that they are left wanting more. The most striking for me was when Powers quickly glosses over Mendoza’s trips to the Olympics and left me wondering how exactly he was able to accomplish such a feat. And maybe it’s just my medical background, but I really wanted to know even a little more about Mendoza’s blindness and his visions.

The title of the book comes from a blind girl who asked the teenage Mendoza what colors the wind is. Later when he began to paint he remembered that question and tried to show what colors he saw in the wind and the world around him. As I’ve mentioned here before, I like to do art projects associated with books about artists. This book seems like it would be a perfect jumping off point for some really cool art with the kids.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I have not been compensated for my review and the opinions are my own.

Originally posted at Supratentorial.