Book review: Crocs, by Bridget Heos, illustrated by David Clark

Heos, Bridget. Crocs. Illustrated by David Clark. (Just Like Us! series). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. $14.99. ISBN 9781328791924. Unpaged. Ages 5-10. P7 Q8

If you like crocodiles or want to know more about them, this is the book for you! Did you know that American alligators introduce themselves by bellowing? Through this growl, the alligator communicates its gender, location and size. Each page has a topic heading that is written in colorful bubble letters which sets the theme for the page. Each page includes a box that contains information emphasizing how crocodiles are similar to humans. The information is easy to read, yet the reader will learn a lot. Since each page has its own theme, the book does not have to be read from front to back, one can skip around to pages they are interested in. Cartoon illustrations along with photographs of crocodiles fill each page. The crocodiles have large round pop out eyes that make me smile. Crocodiles can be scary animals, but the illustrations make them fun. Contains a glossary and bibliography.

Verdict: This fun, informative crocodile book is sure to bring smiles to your face while teaching you a lot about crocodiles. If you are doing a unit on crocodiles or just like them, you will find this book valuable. Some books require the reader to have to wade through a lot of words to find facts, the facts in this nonfiction book are concise and easy to understand. I highly recommend it.

February 2020 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Saving Emma the Pig, by John Chester, illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer

Chester, John. Saving Emma the Pig. Illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer. (The Biggest Little Farm series.) Feiwel and Friends.  2019. 40 pages.  $17.99. ISBN 9781250187796. Ages 5 and up. P9Q9

This story is based on a real story about a pig named Emma and her new babies. The illustrations are large and lifelike, and one falls in love with new mom Emma right away. There are photos and an update about the real Emma, too, which makes a strong connection for children about farm life.

VERDICT: This is an engaging real story, with wonderful illustrations that keep you wanting to turn the page. Children will love the farm and the happy ending.

February 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: Colors, by Shelley Rotner and Anne Woodhull, photographs by Shelley Rotner

Rotner, Shelley, and Anne Woodhull. Colors. Photographs by Shelley Rotner. Holiday House, 2019. 32 pages.  $17.99. ISBN 97808233440634. Ages 2-5. P9Q9

This lovely book is just as it advertises. A beginning book to explore colors in vibrant photos. The first page shouts the color, and the second page gives large engaging photos of things that are, for example, green, with simple descriptive words. Each page celebrates and draws you in. It is fun and would engage young children to want to shout out to add more things to the color pages.

VERDICT: I loved this book, full of color, spare on words, to teach and engage young children to explore their world of color.

February 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle: The Cool Science Behind Frank Epperson’s Famous Frozen Treat, by Anne Renaud, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic

Renaud, Anne. The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle: The Cool Science Behind Frank Epperson’s Famous Frozen Treat. Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic. Kids Can Press, 2019. $16.99. ISBN 9781525300288. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Have you ever wondered how the popsicle was invented? Frank was always interested in inventing. He pondered questions, tinkered, tested, analyzed and scrutinized. At age 10 he masterminded his first invention, a handcar with two handles He loved experimenting with flavored soda waters. In 1905, when he was 11, he put his glass of soda water on the back porch and woke up with it frozen! This was before 1940 when the freezer became popular in North America. When Frank was unsuccessful with an invention, he kept trying. Science experiments are sprinkled throughout the book relating to the story. When talking about the freezer box, the experiment is how to make a frozen treat in 5 min. The backmatter contains the Author’s note which is a biography of Frank’s life, which include photos from 1907 of Frank’s family, Frank selling popsicles, and vintage popsicle advertisements. Having  9 children, he wanted to make extra money for his growing family. In 1924 he applied for patents for his “frozen confectionery” and his “confectionery-making apparatus.” In his lifetime, he invented many things, he even designed and built two of his homes, both of which were inspired by castles. The illustrations bring the reader back to the early 1900’s and show Frank’s imagination.

Verdict: This book stands apart from other biographies in that it includes science facts and experiments. Children will be inspired by Frank’s story and want to do the experiments, which are quick, easy and require common items that most households have. This story could be a catalyst for children to create their own invention. I highly recommend this book.

December 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Join the No-Plastic Challenge!: A First Book of Reducing Waste, by Scot Ritchie

Ritchie, Scot. Join the No-Plastic Challenge!: A First Book of Reducing Waste. (Exploring Our Community series, book 7.) Kids Can Press, 2019. 32 pages. $16.99. ISBN 978-1525302404. Ages 5 and up. P9 Q9

This is a very timely subject of reducing plastic waste that is full of valuable and useable information on why plastic is bad for everything to ideas for using other reusable items as alternatives. It also explains in a manner that children will understand why straws are not good, how to plan for a party and not use plastic, and also how to help clean up the waste now here.

VERDICT: This is a subject often discussed, and the way this was written will inform kids and the adults who are reading to them. The illustrations are simple yet effective, and the Words to Know at the back are a helpful tool. Great to see this children’s book to teach this important subject.

December 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!), by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Chris Hsu

Wittenstein, Barry. The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!). Illustrated by Chris Hsu. Charlesbridge, 2018. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 978-1580897457. Ages 5 and up. P9 Q8

The invention of the Band-Aid might not sound like a thrilling read, but this is actually an interesting story based on the true facts about the inventor, Earle Dickson, and how he came to invent, adjust and then mass produce something we have all used. Even adults will learn a fact or two, and there is a little humor in the author continually saying “The End” when the story evolves and continues. The end of the book has an interesting author’s note on the invention, and he also included a time line not only about the inventor’s life, but also other medical inventions created at the same 1920-1930 period.

VERDICT: This was interesting, and I learned a lot about something I have used my whole life. Everyone knows what Band-Aids are, but most of us don’t think about how they came to be. I think many ages will find the story interesting and the illustrations delightful.

January 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: If Elephants Disappeared, by Lily Williams

Williams, Lily. If Elephants Disappeared. Roaring Book Press, 2019. $18.99. ISBN 9781250143204. Unpaged. Ages 7-12, P8 Q10

From the inviting cover, to the interesting, fact filled pages, this picture book tells an important story. This is the third book in Williams’ environmental series, and is not to be missed. Two black children and a black adult enter the forest and take the reader on an informative trip through the Congo Basin Forest. There’s a lot of science packed in this book, all of it presented in easy to understand terms with illustrations and diagrams to back it up. The book opens with a fact that was new to me: there are three species of elephants: the African forest elephant, the African savanna elephant, and the Asian elephant. This book focuses on the African forest elephant, and the role it plays in shaping the African tropical forest, and the destructive ripple effect their disappearance would have on the ecosystem. The message that elephants are in trouble and need our help is thoughtfully laid out in both text and illustration. The book ends with a helpful glossary and several ideas of how you can help save the elephants.

Verdict: an important book for all youth to read, this book needs to be in both public libraries and school classrooms. It provides many teachable moments from cover to cover.

December 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.