An Ambush of Tigers

Ambush of TigersCindy: I know a stack of librarians who will love An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns (2015), by Betsy R. Rosenthal. We’ve read a few collective noun books before and Lynn and I are fans of them all. There’s something about the tidy organizing that must appeal to the librarians in us. If you follow the link above you will see Carolyn Phelan’s great review of this title, but don’t miss the list of several other collective noun books that appears off to the right. (Using the “Booklist Editors Recommend” feature on Booklist Online is a great way to help readers find books similar to the ones they just read and loved. Try it!)

If a group of teachers is a quiz of teachers, would
a group of English teachers be a correction?

Rosenthal presents a pair of collective nouns in rhyme, many interacting creatively with each other. For instance:

Does a tower of giraffes
way up high
spy a raft of otters
floating by?

For that rhyme, Jago’s gorgeous digital art displays giraffes stacked on top of each other, the one on top wearing binoculars, while the otters wearing bandanas, eye patches, and sabers float by on a raft of branches. This will make a great classroom read aloud and will lead to discussion and creative play with words.

Teachers and librarians should team up with a palette of art teachers and create their own collective noun rhymes and illustrations. It’s a perfect activity for April’s Poetry Month. Leave it to Wiktionary to have a Glossary of Collective Nouns by Subject. A flight of aircraft? A belt of asteroids? An aroma of bakers? The possibilities are endless. And if the list doesn’t have what you want? Make up your own! I looked up books, and one of the suggestions is “a pile of books.” Have they been peeking in my living room?

Lynn: Cindy is right—we LOVE collective nouns and I’m equally in love with this fabulous book. There is so much to enjoy here: the silly rhymes that frolic with the collective noun, the illustrations that carry the joke forward, and the wonderful small details in each of the illustrations that extend the fun. Be sure to take your time with this lovely book so you don’t miss a thing.

Just ONE question—if a group of teachers is a quiz of teachers, would a group of English teachers be a correction?  And then there are  book bloggers….

Cindy: A blather of book bloggers? A babble? But when we get a highly-prized ARC…a squeal of book bloggers! HA.

For more youth book blog posts with two voices, visit Bookends Blog at the Booklist Reader.
Or follow us on Twitter @bookendsblog.


Chernobyl’s Dead Zone by Rebecca Johnson

Chernobyls Wild KingdomCindy: Almost 30 years ago, when I was a baby librarian—and not too many years after acquiring my college protest marching “No-Nukes” button—a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded and the news was full of the fallout. Today’s students may be fuzzy on the details, if they even know about this devastating accident. Rebecca Johnson will bring them up to speed with her book, Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone (2014).

While the book focuses on the radioactive wildlife and the research being done in the Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the opening chapter sets the stage….

Lynn:  What a fascinating subject! Who would have imagined that wildlife would exist at all in the Exclusion Zone, where the radiation is measuring at what we have assumed to be horrifyingly dangerous levels….(more)

Check out our whole post about this book at our Bookends Blog post for Chernobyl’s Dead Zone over at the Booklist Reader.


Sally Walker on Her Huggable Non-Fiction ‘Winnie: The True Story’

Sometimes we come across books that we simply fall in love with. For me, I’ve fallen hard for the Sally Walker’s fascinating and adorable non-fiction title Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh (Henry Holt and Co., January 2015), gorgeously illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. This is one of those books you leave out on the kitchen table so family and friends can pick it up. It lingers in the imagination, makes other writers smack their heads and wish they’d thought of it first, entertains and informs. Just like the bear on the cover, this book is huggable, irresistible.

Sally, a Chicago-area author of fiction and non-fiction for young readers, including early readers, series, and a long list of non-fiction for older readers, has hit it out of the ballpark with Winnie. It tells the story of a World War I veterinarian named Harry, from Winnipeg, and the bear cub he meets and decides to buy. With detailed endpapers showing photographs of the real-life Harry, Winnie, and a boy named Christopher Robin, Sally takes readers through the sweet story of friendship, caring, and separation. Jonathan Voss’s warm illustrations enhance the story beautifully.

Read the full interview at


Winnie by Sally M. Walker

WinnieCindy: After a year on the 2015 Sibert Medal committee I said I was taking a short break from nonfiction, but when I saw the cover art, the title, and the name Sally Walker on Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh (2015), I just couldn’t resist. Last year saw the publication of many soldier-and-dog stories, including Ann Bausum’s Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog (2014)—but a bear?

Harry Colebourn, a Canadian Army Veterinary Corps lieutenant, had a chance meeting with a bear cub at a train station in 1914. He bought the cub for $20 and named him “Winnipeg” for the Corps’ hometown. Winnipeg became “Winnie” and Harry’s fast friend. The two were inseparable until the war took them too close to the battlefront and Harry made the hard decision to leave Winnie at the London Zoo. It was there that a young boy named Christopher Robin met a bear so gentle that children were allowed to pet and hand-feed him. That night, Christopher’s teddy bear got a new name, “Winnie-the-Pooh,” and his father, A. A. Milne, told him the first of many stories about a bear and boy—stories that children are still reading to this day….

Check out our whole post about this book at our Bookends Blog post for Winnie over at the newly designed Booklist Reader.

Hope for Winter

Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, & Isabella Hatkoff.  (Scholastic, 2014)9780545686693_xlg

Anyone who has seen the movie, Dolphin Tale, knows the story of Winter, the rescued dolphin fitted with a prosthetic tail.  Now, in the book Hope for Winter (and in the upcoming Dolphin Tale 2 movie), people will learn of Hope, another bottlenose dolphin rescued in circumstances remarkably similar to those of Winter’s and destined to bring them together.

In simple language, this paperback picture book tells the story of Hope’s rescue and new life at the aquarium,

     When the cast and crew finished filming Dolphin Tale, they threw a party at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  They were happily celebrating, when they received an urgent call —a baby dolphin was on her way to the aquarium.  She was very sick and might not survive the trip.  A group of veterinarians, dolphin trainers, and volunteers left the party and started getting prepared.  When the baby dolphin arrived, it was clear that every minute counted.

Back matter includes several pages of information on Clearwater Marine Aquarium, two pages of “Amazing similarities between Winter and Hope,” and “Dolphin Facts.”

Fans of the original movie, animal enthusiasts, and teachers should love this one.


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

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

What’s New? The Zoo: A Zippy History of Zoos

Krull, Kathleen. 2014. What’s New? The Zoo!: A Zippy History of Zoos. New York: Scholastic.  Illustrated by Marcellus Hall.

What’s New? The Zoo? is an illustrated overview of zoos that combines history with hard science and social science.  Kathleen Krull outlines the history of zoos, and offers insight into what compels us to keep animals, what we’ve learned from them, and what has changed in zoos since the founding of the first known zoo,

4,400 Years Ago, The Sumerian City of Ur, in Present-Day Iraq

The king of beasts lunges and roars.  The King of Ur roars right back, feeling like the ruler of all nature.  How delicious to wield his power over dangerous animals!  It’s the world’s first known zoo, and all we’re sure about (from clay tablets in libraries) is that is has lions.

From this beginning, Krull highlights transitional moments in zoos throughout the ages and across the globe.  Just a few examples include:

  • Ancient Egypt and Rome where zoos were created to impress
  • Ancient China where the zoo was a contemplative and sacred place
  • Sweden where the science of zoology was established in 1735
  • The U.S. National Zoo where the concept of zoos protecting threatened species was introduced
  • South Africa’s Kruger National Park where the protection of rhinos was so successful that rhinos were delivered to other zoos
  • Germany, 1907, where the “cageless zoo” concept is introduced

(Did you know that Aristotle wrote the first encyclopedia of animals?)

On most pages, humorous, watercolor illustrations nestle around paragraphs of simple font against white space.  Several pages, however (including one depiction of fifteen buffalo waiting for a train at Grand Central Station, 1907), are double-spreads with many amusing details.

If you like your science accessible and entertaining, this is the book for you.The very talented Kathleen Krull never disappoints!

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

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.


Animals and the Environment

Animals and the environment
Animals and the environment


Animals and the Environment
by Jennifer Boothroyd

ATOS 2.3 380L

Why do animals live in different environments?

Help K-5 students answer this essential question (and meet the Common Core State Standards) with the Teaching STEM lesson plans for this mentor text: Animals in the Environment by Jennifer Boothroyd.

Students will examine the essential question, “Why do animals live in different environments?”


In small groups, they will read and research information about a specific animal and use the text features from the books to locate facts about their animal and why it lives in a specific environment. Using their combined information, the students will create a diagram or other text feature to illustrate the information they have gathered. They will include at least one animal adaptation that enables it to live in its specific habitat. Students will post their text features and students will move around the room to read them.

See more of this lesson plan on the Teaching STEM blog.


Baseball Animals

If you are a baseball fan, are raising a young baseball fan, or are trying to connect with a young baseball fan, here’s the book for you – a marriage of baseball and animals!

Jordan, Christopher. 2014. Baseball Animals. Plattsburgh, NY: Fenn/Tundra.

Which MLB team shares its name with a songbird that loves acorns?

This blue, black and white bird is thought to be responsible for spreading the oak tree across North America.

If the beautiful photograph of a blue jay on a stark white background doesn’t give you the answer, just turn the page to reveal a full-page action shot of a Toronto Blue Jays batter.

Each baseball page features the team’s logo, a full-page action photo taken at the ballpark, and some team uniform trivia.  Did you know that the Cardinals (often called the Redbirds) were not named for the beautiful bird, but rather for the color of their original uniforms? Their uniforms were cardinal red. So, presumably they are named after the traditional color of a Catholic cardinal’s cassock.  Now that’s a great baseball trivia question!

Fun and informative, this is a must-have for little baseball fans. I don’t know why someone didn’t think of it earlier!  An Appendix of MLB Teams and Logos rounds out the book – featuring all of the teams – even those sans animals on their logos.
Advance Reader Copy supplied by LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program.

Read more about Baseball Animals and see all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

 A reminder: The Women’s History Month celebration continues at KidLit Celebrates Women’s History MonthYou won’t want to miss today’s post by award-winning writer, Jim Ottaviani with original artwork by Maris Wicks (Primates).

Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month