The Hidden Life of a Toad

Over at Growing with Science blog today we are featuring The Hidden Life of a Toad by biologist and photographer Doug Wechsler.

the-hidden-life-toad

Many books feature what we commonly call frogs, but hardly any concentrate on their less colorful, bumpy cousins the toads. The Hidden Life of a Toad brings deserved attention to these fascinating creatures. In addition to filling a neglected niche, the book has a great deal more going for it.

First of all, Wechsler went to great lengths to capture high quality images of every step in the toad life cycle, and his photographs are stellar. You can read about what he did to take the photos in the back matter.

Next, as a biologist, his facts are impeccable.

Finally, what is even better is that he has studied children’s literature and his writing is spot on, too. It is full of lively verbs.

One embryo wiggles.

It wriggles.

It jiggles about.

The main text concentrates on toad development and life cycle. Back matter is filled with supplemental information, including a glossary, toad facts, and suggestions for helping toads.

The Hidden Life of a Toad delivers all you can ask for in nonfiction and more. Share it with a budding naturalist today.

See Growing with Science for related activity suggestions.

 

Feel the Beat (In The Poem)

This week at Wrapped in Foil blog we have another new picture book for National Poetry Month, Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Kristi Valiant.

feel-the-beat

You can tell from the title right off the bat this is going to be a fun and upbeat book. Who doesn’t like to dance? But Feel the Beat is also full of surprises.

First of all, we expect poems to have a distinct rhythm. Prolific author Marilyn Singer takes things a step further and incorporates the beats of the particular dance she is highlighting into the poem about it.

The second surprise:  The copy I found at the library has a CD in the back with the poems read by the author. They are set to appropriate music for each dance. What a treasure!

The illustrations are fabulous. They are so energetic that they bounce off the page. Each captures the flavor of the dance it portrays without being too busy or visually overwhelming.

Do you want to use the book to teach about different cultures? There are historical and cultural notes about each dance in the back matter.

In conclusion, you’ll want to pick up Feel The Beat for Poetry Month and then enjoy it throughout the year.

Stand Up and Sing!

Today at Wrapped in Foil blog we are highlighting the children’s picture book biography Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Adam Gustavson.

stand-up-and-sing

Why read about Pete Seeger? First of all, he was a popular musician. Many people have heard — or even sung — Pete Seeger’s folk songs.  In addition he was a social activist, invested in making a difference. For example, Seeger joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during protests in Alabama. It was a time when simply performing on the same stage with African American singer Paul Robeson made him a target of violence. By taking chances, however, he helped make changes.

It is clear author Susanna Reich is passionate about her subject. She explains her feelings of personal connection in the “Author’s Note” in the back matter. She lives in the Hudson Valley near where Pete Seeger lived and attended many of Seeger’s concerts. Although she’s a big fan, when she started writing this book she probably had no idea how timely it would be.

Stand Up and Sing! is a rousing tribute to a popular folk singer. It is sure to appeal to young musicians and history buffs, alike. Time to sing its praises.

For related activity suggestions and more information, be sure to visit Wrapped in Foil.

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.

walk-in-the-woods

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.