Book review: Bee Calm: The Buzz on Yoga, by Frank J. Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Sileo, Frank J. Bee Calm: The Buzz on Yoga.  Illustrated by Claire Keay.  Magination Press , 2019.  $17.99   ISBN 9781433829574. Ages 4-8.  P7/Q7

Using rhyming couplets, this book introduces the concept of yoga and a few of the poses.   Bentley Bee flies high and spots a number of different animals twisting their bodies into odd positions.  He finds out that they are yoga poses.  The illustrations are sweet and relateable, but they are sometimes hard to make into a yoga pose that anyone would recognize.  Perhaps that’s for the best, as it requires that someone in the room demonstrate the pose, engaging the child listener.   Reading it to a 4-year-old who had been doing some yoga with her mother recently, she eagerly showed me how to do each of the poses.  She said she liked the book, but she didn’t have much to say about it.  The end of the book has ideas for how to use it in introducing yoga to children.  The poses are simple enough that preschoolers can enjoy doing them, and at preschool or at home it should be helpful in getting into the practice.  The book is published by the American Psychological Association in support of children’s emotional health.

March 2019 review by Ann Goddard.


Book review: If Polar Bears Disappeared, by Lily Williams

Williams, Lily. If Polar Bears Disappeared. Roaring Book Press, 2018. 40 pgs. $17.99. ISBN 9781250143198. Ages 6+. P7 Q7.5

This is a very good addition to the climate change discussion.  Illustrations and format give young readers a clear scientific understanding of what climate change means, how it affects animals and the natural world. At the end it gives a view of what humans are doing to try and solve it. The final couple of pages give a thumbprint of how we can help save polar bears, and a short description of the Arctic in trouble and a glossary. The book does focus on polar bears, but includes the other animals in their environment, too.  I like this very clear and matter of fact way this has been written, with no doom and gloom shadows but with honest facts and nice illustrations featuring kids of all nations being involved in observations.

VERDICT: This is one of the best climate change books I have read so far for children. I tend to like science discussions that don’t emotionalize a subject but give facts and vocabulary palatable to the correct age range. I also appreciate the “what you can do” end of the book, because the subject could easily crash into negative conclusions. Kids will stay interested in this book and understand the subject much better overall.

March 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: Secrets of the Sea, by Kate Baker, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor

Baker, Kate. Secrets of the Sea. Illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Big Picture Press, 2016 (first US edition 2017). $24.99. ISBN 9780763698393. 83 pgs. Ages 8-12. P8Q9

Secrets of the Sea is a gorgeous book that gives us a glimpse of some of the more unique and interesting animals in the sea. While many of the featured life forms do not live in our coastal waters, readers who love the sea will be engrossed with this book. It takes us through the shallows, kelp forests, coral gardens, the open sea, and the very deep areas. With large format, very beautiful mixed media illustrations, we learn about unusual creatures like common blennies, daphnia, microscopic cyanobacteria, coral polyps, and swordtail squid. The information given is basic but will push readers to research and learn more about the subject. There is a table of contents and a selected bibliography at the end, but no index.

VERDICT: This book will be a popular item in our children’s room. We have an eager group of ocean loving young readers who will be eager to check this one out.

February 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: In the Past, by David Elliott, illustrated by Matthew Trueman

Elliott, David. In the Past. Illustrated by Matthew Trueman. Candlewick Press, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780763660734. Unpaged. Ages 3-7. P8Q8

This gorgeous large format dinosaur book is organized chronologically, with a timeline at the bottom of the opening pages and an indicator on each spread of when the specific creature lived. I liked that the author didn’t focus only on the most famous dinosaurs, but spent time on less known ones as well- Meganeura, Eurypterus, and Astraspis were all new terms to me. The mixed media artwork is beautiful and gives a good sense of the size of the animals. The text consists of short poems, both rhyming and not. They don’t give much detailed information, just a playful description. For more in depth information, readers need to go to the notes at the end of the book. Here they will find information about the prehistorical periods and the animals that inspired the poems in the book.

VERDICT: Kids who love dinosaurs will really enjoy this book. Their parents will like it too, both for the information and the lovely illustrations.

February 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Think Like a Scientist at the Beach, by Dana Meachen Rau

Rau, Dana Meachen. Think like a Scientist at the Beach. (Science Explorer Junior series). Cherry Lake Publishing, 2011. 32 pgs. $28.50. ISBN 9781610801683. Ages 6-9. P7Q7

This is part of a series Science Explorer Junior. Each chapter takes a question such as, “Where does the water go?” and guides readers through the scientific process. Ask a question, talk about the science of it, such as evaporation, and create an experiment. Then it asks about the results the young scientist found. I found this to be a simple yet effective way to introduce how scientists attempt to figure things out, and invites us in to participate. The vocabulary also teaches by using scientific language, and the graphics are simple yet colorful. I enjoyed the five beach explorations, and thought it was a welcoming introduction to beaches and the scientific method for this age.

VERDICT: Juvenile readers will be drawn into the subject and method of this book, and I enjoyed the book’s layout.  It would also be good for homeschoolers to create their own beach experiments.

February 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: Elvis Is King, by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Red Nose Studio

Winter, Jonah. Elvis Is King! Illus. by Red Nose Studio. Schwartz & Wade, 2019. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-399-55470-4. Ages 4-8. P8Q8

Born “on the wrong side of the railroad tracks,” a blond boy gets his start singing in church and wanting to feel loved. Winter brings out Elvis Presley’s personality as he stays lonely despite his success after buying a used guitar, dying his hair black, and developing a new style of rock and roll that combines rhythm and blues with country music. An endnote with a few photographs discusses the reasons for Presley’s popularity and skips the tragic events of his later life.

Verdict: The distinctive art, photographs of intriguing handcrafted articles of wire, fabric, wood, and found objects, will engross the readers as much as the simple lyrical text. The back of the cover shows objects used in the book and explains what they are made of. Charming on all fronts.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: he Sun Is Kind of a Big Deal, by Nick Seluk

Seluk, Nick. The Sun Is Kind of a Big Deal. Orchard Books, 2018. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-338-16697-2. Ages 5-8. P8Q8

Whimsical comic-style illustrations and text enhanced by commentary in dialog bubbles from the planets and sun highlight the relationship of the planets to the huge star, emphasizing its influence on the Earth. A bonus is the poster on the back of the book’s cover of the sun, the eight planets, and the dwarf planet Pluto with its comment, “I’m still here, guys.”

Verdict: This funny introduction to the solar system delights as it educates. Highly recommended.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.