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Animal Ark for National Poetry Month

Are you getting ready to share books for kids for National Poetry Month? The new children’s book Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess, Deanna Nikaido, and photographs by Joel Sartore should be at the top of your list.

animal-ark

Animal Ark is an amazing combination of image and text. Full of vibrant verbs, the poems leap off the page:

listen to the rumble
giant stomping feet
calling brothers … sisters

This isn’t old rehashed material, either. Alexander is is referring to the fact elephants communicate through vibrations, which scientists discovered in 1997.

Not only does he reveal interesting facts about animals, but also the importance of conservation.

The words aren’t all that make this a powerful book. The photographs by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore are incredible, too. Every detail stands out crisp against simple black or white backgrounds. How do you fit over 100 gorgeous photographs into one children’s book? The secret is fold out pages. In the back, a fold shows the name of each animal in the book, as well as its IUCN status.

Animal Ark is so moving, it just might leave you breathless. Perfect to share the main pages for story time with a class, or cuddle up with at bedtime with kids and go through the fold outs. At the very least, expect children to want to go back to it again and again.

Visit Wrapped in Foil blog for the must-see book trailer narrated by Kwame Alexander and suggestions for related activities.

Insects: The Most Fun Bug Book Ever

Over at Growing with Science blog today we’re highlighting a new Middle Grade book, Insects: The Most Fun Bug Book Ever by Sneed B. Collard III.

insects

How much fun is the book? Let’s take a look.

Starting out, it is written in an animated conversational tone, with a touch of silliness thrown in. Here’s a brief quote as a sample:

“Fireflies light up because they’re afraid of the dark. Not really!”

The information is handled in a less-than-serious way, as well. For example, there is a table in the introduction comparing the known number of species of different animal groups. Kids might not look too closely until they realize one of the categories is comic-book superheroes (there are more than 1,000 different comic-book superheroes according to the author.) The conclusion that the number of insect species far exceeds that of other animal groups comes through loud an clear, regardless, and if adding superheroes makes a reader pay more attention, then good for Mr. Collard.

Some parts are as the reader might expect. The illustrations are color photographs, mostly taken by the author. On the other hand, on page ten is an illustration of an insect’s anatomy hand-drawn by the author’s son. The back matter includes the standard glossary and index, but no list of books or websites to learn more. Instead the author encourages kids to go outside and observe insects in the real world.

All in all, Insects: The Most Fun Bug Book Ever is a must-have title for budding entomologists and kids interested in biology. It will also appeal to kids who enjoy their nonfiction on the lighter side, making it an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Be sure to check out a copy today.

Mapping My Day Launches Today

Today is the “birthday” for the new nonfiction picture book Mapping My Day by Julie Dillemuth and illustrated by Laura Wood.

mappin-my-day

Mapping My Day introduces basic map concepts and vocabulary by following main character Flora through her day. She wakes up to a lesson about cardinal directions, races to the bathroom while learning about map scale, and goes outside to use a treasure map full of landmarks. And that’s just before breakfast.

The back matter includes a “Note to Parents and Caregivers” which encourages children to participate and reinforce learning with suggestions for hands-on mapping activities.

You might wonder if, with the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping might be becoming obsolete. Nothing could be further from the case. Maps are ways to present information visually, not only for geography, but also for many other fields including STEM. Plus, spatial skills learned from developing an understanding of maps are important for many careers.

All in all, Mapping My Day is a tool every educator of young children should have in their toolbox.

For more information and related activities, see Wrapped in Foil blog.

Hope you have a happy Pi Day tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

Into the Field Guides for Kids

I’m running behind today, but I guess it’s still Monday.

Today at Wrapped in Foil blog I’m featuring two children’s books in the  Into the Field Guide series.

The Into the Field Guides are lightweight and a perfect size to carry along on a hike. They won’t take up much room in a backpack. The guides feature color photographs and clear, simple descriptions to help youngsters learn to identify common animals, plants, and even rocks. They also include an introduction to some basic scientific concepts and facts. For example, the description of the stick insect explains how it uses camouflage to hide from predators.

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A Walk in the Woods has descriptions of animals, plants, and rocks found in Eastern deciduous forests. For example, the bird section highlights American robins, Northern mockingbirds, chickadees, goldfinches, etc.

 

walk-on-the-beach

A Walk on the Beach helps young readers learn about common animals, plants, rocks, shells, and even debris found on the beach. The bird section includes information about water birds ranging from great blue herons and seagulls, to eagles and ducks.

great-backyard-bird-count

These field guides would be perfect to accompany the The Great Backyard Bird Count citizen science event coming up soon.

What is the Great Backyard Bird Count? Basically all people need to do is count the birds they see over 15 minutes during the weekend of the event and then report the numbers on the website. Although it is called “backyard,” people can count anywhere birds are found, including parks, preserves, or fields. There is plenty of information and instructions about getting started at the website. It is a wonderful project for kids to participate in.

A Celebration of the Art of Beatrix Potter

Today we are highlighting the art and books of Beatrix Potter with A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and letters by more than 30 of today’s favorite children’s book illustrators.

a-celebration-of-beatrix-potter

Last year, 2016, was the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. To honor her, thirty-two famous children’s book illustrators produced artwork and stories inspired by Potter’s picture books. The featured illustrators range from Lauren Castillo and Tomie dePaola to Rosemary Wells and Pamela Zagarenski. See Kelly Murphy’s website for one example.

The official word is this book is for readers grades three up. You might be skeptical, but it does have the potential to appeal to a range of ages. Younger children will be probably be captivated by the assortment of illustrations and the excerpts from Potter’s children’s books. Adults will be interested in the accompanying essays by the illustrators, as well as the historical tidbits provided as background for Potter’s books. For example, we learn The Tailor of Gloucester was Beatrix Potter’s favorite and that it was based on a true story. How fun!

A Celebration of Beatrix Potter is a treasure trove to explore, especially for readers interested in art and books. It is valuable as a resource for art and history lessons, and as a reference. But best of all it is a fitting tribute to Beatrix Potter’s genius. Check out a copy today.

Stop by Wrapped in Foil blog for activity suggestions to accompany the book.

(Wow, I had forgotten how much fun it is to review children’s books.)

Shining a Spotlight on Lee & Low’s Tiny Stitches, Biography of Vivien Thomas

Although I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts at Wrapped In Foil, I wanted stop by to call attention to the awesome picture book biography Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks and illustrated by Colin Bootman. It’s an incredible story about an inspiring man.

tinystitches

Vivien Thomas wanted to go to college and study medicine, but the money he had saved to go to school was wiped out when the stock market crashed at the beginning of the Great Depression. Instead, he found a job working for Dr. Alfred Blalock at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Blalock saw Vivien’s potential and taught him how to do medical research. Regardless of the roadblocks thrown at him because of his race and lack of degrees, Vivien Thomas developed medical techniques still saving babies’ lives today.

On her website, Gwendolyn Hooks explains it took her six years to research and write this book. The depth of knowledge and attention to detail shows. She also explains Vivien’s unusual name. She says his parents had picked out the girl’s name Vivian, but when they had a boy, they quickly changed the “a” to an “e.” A unique name for a unique man.

Tiny Stitches is an outstanding picture book biography. Share a copy with a child soon. Who knows where it might lead?

For the rest of the review, visit Wrapped In Foil blog.

See the previous Nonfiction Monday review by proseandkahn, as well.

Time for Kids Awesome America

At Wrapped in Foil blog we are featuring Awesome America: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the History, People, and Culture (Time for Kids) by Katy Steinmetz, a “timely” book that would be perfect for kids who want to know whether the state capital of Nevada is Las Vegas or Carson City.

 

awesome-america

At 208 pages it is a hefty tome, but Awesome America is not a dry or like a textbook. Instead it is a colorful overview highlighting important events and people that have shaped the United States. In addition to discussions of the presidents and states, it is organized into chapters that cover topics such as “Our Government,” “Civil Rights,” “Great Americans,” and “America’s Role in the World.” The final chapter contains a timeline revealing the main events of 400 years of history.

Awesome America is a veritable treasure trove of information. It would be a useful addition to any reference library, especially as a resource for school reports. Pick up a copy and see what it inspires today!