Book review: Sounds of the Wild, by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

Butterfield, Moira. Sounds of the Wild. Illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman. 360 Degrees, 2020. 23 pages. $19.99. ISBN 9781944530280. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

What do you know about the Komodo dragon? Children will learn facts about animals and be able to hear what they sound like in this matte illustrated nonfiction book. Broken up into sections and spaces on the page to make for easy reading. Integrating animals such as the warty pig and grapsus crab. There is a tab the upper left which labels where the animals are found. Start in Madagascar and learn about the lemur and panther chameleon, then head to South Georgia island and continue all the way to Sumatra. Facts and habits of a large variety of animals, including sea animals. The realistic illustrations are engaging. The last page shows a map of the world and encourages children visit the places. The end matter contains a bird index along with other animals, Animals Under Threat, and circles to press to hear what the animals sound like. Even though this book is titled, Sounds of the Wild, there are a wide range of animals featured, including some rare animals that children have not heard of before. Due to the format of this book, it can be read in any order.

Verdict: Children will enjoy learning about animals as they “press here” on circles to hear sounds of the wild animals. There is an off button on the back of the book, so adults can turn off the sounds it they want to. Not recommended for library use due to the batteries and such that can be tampered with. Great sensory activity along with many facts. If you love animals, this book is sure to please. I can see a child looking at this book for a long time,

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: Sounds of the Sky, by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Jonathan Woodward

Butterfield, Moira. Sounds of the Sky. Illustrated by Jonathan Woodward. 360 Degrees, 2020. 23 pages. $19.99. ISBN 9781944530273. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Children will learn facts about animals and be able to hear what they sound like in this matte illustrated nonfiction book. Broken up into sections and spaces on the page to make for easy reading. Intriguing birds include the Chinese Nightingale. There is a tab on the upper left labels where the birds are found and range from the South America rain forest Eastern Australia Eucalypt Forest, to Tanzania. The illustrations are realistic and engaging. The last page shows a map of the world and encourages children visit the places. The back matter contains a bird index along with other animals. How to Save Our Birds, and circles to press to hear what the birds sound like. Even though the title is Sounds of the Sky, the information covers a multitude of animals and is not limited to bird information or animals that are common. Due to the format of the book, children can read the book in order of preference.

Verdict: Children will enjoy learning about animals as they “press here” circles the places to hear sounds. There is an off button on the back of the book, so adults can turn off the sounds it they want to. Not recommended for library use due to the batteries and such that can be tampered with. Great sensory activity along with many facts. If you love birds and animals, this book is sure to please. I can see a child looking at this book for a long time,

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: Amazing Treasures: 100+ Objects and Places That Will Boggle Your Mind, by David Long, illustrations by Muti

Long, David. Amazing Treasures: 100+ Objects and Places That Will Boggle Your Mind. Illustrations by Muti. ( What on Earth series). What on Earth Books, 2021. 58 pages. $24.00 ISBN 9781912920501. Ages 7+. P8 Q8

Who doesn’t love treasures? What constitutes as a treasure? Similar to the DK style of books, each page is broken up into sections with accompanying illustrations that make each topic easy to digest, including a vast amount of captivating information, interesting to children. There is even a list of treasures and where they are found around the world with a map. The variety of treasures ranges from fossils, artwork, architectural wonders, tomb raiders, and the list goes on and on. The back matter contains a glossary, index, and table of contents. Due to the format of the book, the text can be read in any order. To my knowledge, all the facts are accurate and would appeal to youth who love treasure hunts and history.

Verdict: This book is a treasure and sure to be a favorite. Youth (and adults) can spend hours reading and sifting through all the information. The information on sunken treasures is timely since I am showing students next week the 1957 Du Barry lipstick case that I found on the beach. Full of facts and illustrations for the curious mind, a must have in every library and personal collection.

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: Bartali’s Bicycle: The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s Secret Hero, by Megan Hoyt, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.

Hoyt, Megan. Bartali’s Bicycle: The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s Secret Hero. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. Quill Tree Books, 2021. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9780062908117. Ages 4-10. P6 Q7

Have you ever heard of Gino Bartali, Italy’s secret hero? Learn how Gino Bartali trained to cycle across Italy, to compete in the Tour de France in 1938. During that time, Europe was at war and lies were spread about the Jewish people. Gino had Jewish friends who were builders and artists, so he did not believe the lies. While soldiers invaded Florence, Gino kept training. In the process, Gino witnessed effects of the war on Jewish friends, leading him to work with the secret network to help Jewish families escape. Gino’s feelings are included and his sense of justice, which leads to his heroic actions in saving more than 800 lives The large illustrations created in pencil and digital color show war activities, gunshots, bombs, and rubble. Action words are set apart with larger text and terra cotta, dark green, matching the color theme of the illustrations. The back matter contains a, timeline and letter from Gino Bartali’s granddaughter, an Author’s note, and memorabilia in Florence.

Verdict: Upon reflecting on this valuable holocaust book, the phrase, “courage in the face of injustice” comes to mind. Age appropriate, but does not shy away from the truth and horror of the treatment of Jews. Factual, but at a level where students are able to see and understand what happened, this is a must have holocaust book for every elementary school and public library.

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: Bear Can’t Wait, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Wilson, Karma. Bear Can’t Wait. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. (Bear Books series). Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9781481459754. Ages 4-6. P7 Q6

If you follow the Bear Book series, you know that bear has many adventures with his friends. This book follows the characteristic Bear series, with regards to the bright illustrations and style. Bear has planned a surprise but he has to wait…. clear until that night. While the forest critters set up for the party, Bear continues to wait for the party to start. When Bear tries to help, it is a disaster. Suddenly, instead of waiting, Bear has to hurry. The illustrations include a green, brown, yellow theme in the forest, along with friendly looking animals,

Verdict: We collect the Bear series and enjoy Bear’s adventures. However, of all the Bear books, I feel that this one is less successful. Bear can’t wait missed an opportunity to give strategies to children on how to wait. In the end, the text reads, “Hare can’t wait” referring to the party thrown for Hare. In reality, there is no reason for Hare to wait. The party is for Hare, so Hare should enjoy it and not have to wait. It is a cute Bear book that shows throwing a party for a friend, but it feels like the book is relying on the popularity of the series as opposed to creating a book that makes sense. Hopefully the next Bear book in the series will have a message that makes sense.

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: Bruno the Beekeeper: a Honey Primer, by Aneta Františka Holasová ; translated by Andrew Lass

Holasová, Aneta Františka. Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer. Translated by Andrew Lass. Candlewick, 2021. 75 pages. $19.99. ISBN . Ages 6-10. P7 Q7

Are you interested in bees? Follow Bruno the beekeeper as he works with his bees. Seasons are highlighted and the reader will learn about what happens with bees during each season. During winter, bees rest and in the spring, beautiful watercolor illustrations show flowers in bloom. During the summer, not only are flowers in bloom, honey is harvested. The content includes worker bees, the anatomy of a bee, the life cycle of a bee, cute illustrations of bees performing daily tasks. The pattern of explaining worker bees continues for drones, queen bees, the hive, bee parasites and predators, and much more! Step by step illustrations match the text. The end matter includes a recipe for gingerbread cookies. This edition was translated from original Czech and as far as I could tell, the translation seemed to be accurate. I read a review that cautioned to “keep eye out for conflicting messages,” but I was not able to find any errors in the text or illustrations.

Verdict: All things bees! Great for a bee unit or for children who want to learn about bees. This book contains so much information that readers can pick and choose which chapters/pages to read based on what they want to learn. This book would not be a successful read aloud due to the large amount of text and detailed illustrations. While the illustrations are not flashy, the realistic representation of bees will attract the attention of youth who want to know more about bees.

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: If Only, by Mies Van Hout, translated by David Colmer

Hout, Mies Van. If Only. Translated by David Colmer. Pajama Press, 2021. Unpaged. $17.95. ISBN 9781772781960. Ages 4-7. P7 Q7

It is common for a child to want to be like their peers. Each two-page spread follows a pattern of a creature wanting to be like another creature. Starting with a child who want to be a butterfly, then the butterfly wants to be a stick insect. The cycle continues until it comes back to a creature wanting to be a child. Each page has a different color theme. After the creature wants to be another one, the first creature declares the strength that it admires in the other creature. Illustrations show only two characters on the page, including the one that is thinking and the one that want to be something else. The creature desired then goes on to want to be another creature. The child in the book is not restricted to a gender, which makes it relatable to all children. The nature themed, rich jewel-toned illustrations, explore the natural world of each invertebrate creature–butterfly, stick insect, firefly, spider, snail, etc.  The end matter contains a glossary of creatures and facts that go along with them. Instructions are included for children to make collage art of a creature that is able to do something the child cannot do along with step by step instructions, How to make self-painted paper. Originally published in the Netherlands (Canadian) and translated into English. Very well translated. The art was created with acryl-ink, gouache and collage with a garden theme.

Verdict: Highly successful, beautifully illustrated picture book, mirrors the desire children have to be someone else and to take on their strengths. Children will not only learn to appreciate their strengths; they will learn facts about invertebrates. Useful in a unit on natural history or a social emotional unit on unique strengths children have.

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: Most Days, by Michael Leannah, illustrated by Megan Elizabeth Baratta

Leannah, Michael. Most Days. Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth Baratta. Tilbury House Publishers, 2021. Unpaged. $17.95. ISBN 9780884487272. Ages 3-5. P7 Q7

At the end of the day, do you think back over your day and cherish the small events that occurred? Days can feel “ordinary” or like “most days,” but when one analyzes the day, one realizes that the world slowly changes every day. This book celebrates the average day and challenges children to be mindful of the good things that occur in the day. While the text is formative and describes activities that occur during every season, the illustrations that move the text forward, providing more understanding visualization and additional content to the story. Illustrations include children in a wheelchair, a child using sign language, racially diverse children, activities in the city, generations working together, and interracial couples, At the end of the day, a child looks out the window and ponders the memories of the day and looks forward to the next day’s events. Leannah has also written the book Most People.

Verdict: Children learn about the importance of mindfulness and taking the time to enjoy the ordinary activities, such as watching a dog’s tail wag. This picture book will make a successful read aloud due to the simple paragraph of text on each page that goes along with the large illustrations. Great for mindfulness and enjoying every moment. Children may discover a new appreciation of every day.

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: My Nana’s Garden, by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Casey, Dawn. My Nana’s Garden. Illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle. Templar Books, 2020. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9781536217117. Ages 3-7. P6 Q7

Nana’s garden is a comforting place where creatures can play and growth can happen. A child and Nana work together in Nana’s garden. Simple descriptions of the garden, while not neatly organized, show an oasis for small creatures. Colorful matte illustrations show the garden and creatures that live there, eliciting a cozy feeling. The text and illustrations correlate the garden with animals and family, while modeling a strong generational connection. One day the chair is empty, making the child grow sad. Winter comes and no growth appears. The next spring, the mom and child plant flowers in Nana’s garden and the season starts over while the child thinks of Nana. With the new season, a new small baby arrives and grows into a toddler who explores Nana’s garden. In the end, the child uses the same phrases the Nana used, passing the phrases on to the next generation. The lyrical and rhyming text makes for an easy read. Illustrations were done in watercolor and digital media.

Verdict: Since some of the creatures hide in the garden, the reader can easily turn the illustrations into an “I spy” game, to encourage interaction with young children. This would not be a successful read aloud due to the detailed illustrations. Life cycles are modeled, along with dealing with death. That being said, the text does not say that Nana died, so younger children may want to know why the empty chair is now  “quiet and bare.” I thought it was interesting that the Nana in the story did not look old, so when she died, it was a bit of a surprise. I think this was a good move on the part of the illustrator, showing that people do not have to die from old age and sometimes people are taken from us unexpectedly.

April 2021 book review by Harris.

Book review: No More Plastic, by Alma Fullerton

Fullerton, Alma. No More Plastic. Pajama Press, 2021. Unpaged. $17.95. ISBN 9781772781137. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

Children have the ability to make the world a better place. Follow Isley, who lives by the beach, as she discovers the devastating impact of plastic on animals. When Isley discovers a dead whale, she is sad and the illustrations show her sadness. When Isley’s sadness turns to anger, she steers the strong emotion in a positive direction to change the situation. Isley makes signs, writes letters to bring awareness of the impacts of plastic on animals. It appears that people are listening and starting to change their ways, but unfortunately, the people in her life quickly revert back to their previous wasteful ways because it is “easier.” Isley is not deterred and starts picking up trash off the beaches, which she uses to make a  whale sculpture. This powerful book if full of onomatopoeia and poetic phrases. When Isley was angry, she hoped her anger would, “float off with the ocean waves.” All the illustrations were made from repurposed sand, plastic and moss. The end matter includes an Author’s note, where readers learn that the adventure took place on Prince Edward Island where whales, turtles, walruses, dolphins, fish and seabirds are all washing ashore due to plastic. There is also a page on “How to reduce plastic in our lives and world.”

Verdict: The positive and proactive approach is encouraging and gives readers specific ways they can eliminate plastic along with the reasons why the elimination of plastic is vital. This picture book would make a successful read aloud due to the large pictures and short text. Not only will children learn about the importance of eliminating plastic, they will be able to see the example of a child who uses her anger as energy towards making the world better. In our beach community, the message of the book is pertinent and timely. Adults can also use this book to discuss with children how they can reduce plastic waste and even create their own projects or crafts from trash that has been picked up.

April 2021 book review by Harris.