Tag: seasons

Review: North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette

North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette

North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette, illustrated by Claudia McGehee (InfoSoup)

A girl tells about her grandmother who is not like other grandmas. She dresses in Grandpa’s old flannel shirts and she’s bony. She doesn’t bake cookies or pies, but she does take long walks out in nature. With her trusty walking stick, the two of them explore the little paths near Grandma’s house. Every season there are new things to see, things in the garden to do. The two love winter best of all, especially winter nights with a full moon when they explore the snowy woods. Grandma may not be like other grandma’s but she’s pretty special and a north woods girl to the quick.

Bissonette captures the spirit of a north woods woman beautifully in her picture book. From the no-fuss long grey braid, the flannel shirts, the stout boots to the way that nature speaks to her and that she knows it so well. This book is a celebration of the north woods too, the ways that the woods changes in different seasons, the animals that fill it, and the glory of a winter woods.

McGehee’s scratchboard illustrations have a rustic beauty. The colors are deep and lovely, and they capture the spirit of the woods. In fact, there are moments when you can almost smell the pines and the grass. There is a subtle multiculturalism here too with the little girl’s darker skin tone and curly hair. The pages are crowded with details of the woods, filled with animals and insects.

A lovely look at the northern woods, this picture book celebrates unique grandmothers living in a unique place. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Review: Little Tree by Loren Long

Little Tree by Loren Long

Little Tree by Loren Long (InfoSoup)

The author of the popular Otis series tells a story about a tree that is heartwarming and encouraging. Little Tree is happy as he stands with the other little trees in the forest. Squirrels play in his branches and a mourning dove stops by. Autumn arrives and the leaves of the little tree change color along with those on the other little trees. The leaves began to fall, except for those on Little Tree. He held onto his tightly. The animals start to ask him why he is holding onto his leaves so long, but Little Tree just holds them even tighter. Spring comes and the other trees are taller and filled with bright green leaves. Little Tree though has only his old brown leaves. The other trees continue to grow around Little Tree, the animals no longer played in his branches, and he just held on ever more tightly. Little Tree would have to figure out how to let go and allow change to happen.

This parable is beautifully told. The parallel between a tree not dropping its leaves and allowing seasons to pass and a human fighting the inevitable changes and progress in life is compelling. Young readers will see clearly how stunted the life of Little Tree becomes and how quickly he loses the very parts of his existence that he loves so much. The writing is simple and straight-forward, making this a very shareable book that could lead to a discussion about what children are holding onto that they may want to release and let go.

Long’s illustrations are luminous on the page. He makes great use of white space, allowing Little Tree to shine on the page in a simple and engaging way. Other pages use double spreads, showing the changing forest as it grows around Little Tree. This too is very effective.

A strong picture book with an important message that is cleverly told, this book encourages young readers to embrace change and the uncertainties of life. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from Philomel Books.

Review: Changes by Charlotte Zolotow

Changes by Charlotte Zolotow

Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke (InfoSoup)

Celebrate the changing of the seasons with this collection of poetry from master children’s poet, Charlotte Zolotow. The 28 poems move from the joy of the change from one season to the next and then start with a focus on spring. The poems speak of the joy of spring breezes, snow melting, rainfall, violets, and green grass. Summer poems shine with sun, seaside sand, lights at night, and the buzz of insects. Autumn comes next with the joy of fallen leaves, classrooms, firelight, and Halloween. The book finishes with winter and its snow and ice that dazzle in their own way.

The poems here create a whole, a deep look not only at the seasons but also in the power of connecting with nature throughout the year. Zolotow’s mastery shows in each one, her ability to look closely at a small thing, find the immense beauty in it, speak to that and then create a universal experience in words on the page. Everyone will respond to these poems, as they capture those moments in time where we can all connect with nature and with one another.

The illustrations frame each poem, and capture the natural hues of each season. Spring is filled with the brightness of the flowers and grass. Summer is yellow and bright with the sun. Autumn turns golden and orange while winter is blues and whites. There are just enough details to invite readers into the poems and allow the words to really be the focus of the book.

A gorgeous addition to children’s poetry collections, this is one to get into teacher’s hands so they can start using it immediately. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Water Is Water by Miranda Paul

Water Is Water by Miranda Paul

Water Is Water: A Book about the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin (InfoSoup)

A poetic look at the various stages of water in the water cycle, this book moves logically from one to the next as water evaporates, condenses and changes. Seen through the lives of two siblings, the book begins with pages where the children are down near the lake and then rain drives them back home. Once home, they get a glass of water then water is boiled for a cup of cocoa out on the porch. Clouds come out in the evening, lit by the setting sun. Then autumn arrives with its foggy school mornings. Rain falls down as the school bus reaches school and then there are puddles to jump in at recess. Winter arrives with ice and snow and then spring returns with more puddles and mud. Apples are picked and turned into cider that the children drink up.

Shown through seasonal changes and a very personal view, this water cycle book makes everything very tangible and real. At the end of the book children can learn more about evaporation, condensation and precipitation which are tied directly to the forms of water that they experienced in the bulk of the book and the story. Keeping the focus on the ways that children themselves experience the water cycle makes this book particularly accessible.

The illustrations by Chin are done in watercolor and gouache. They are filled with nature and beauty from the wonder of the sky in evening to the bright colors of the fall leaves to the brisk cool colors of winter. The illustrations capture the beauty of weather and forms of water in a vivid way.

A dynamic and personal book about what can be an abstract theory, this book on the water cycle is exactly the sort of science book that will inspire additional investigation in the world and science. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Review: Whatever the Weather Board Books

rain snow

sun wind

Rain by Carol Thompson

Snow by Carol Thompson

Sun by Carol Thompson

Wind by Carol Thompson

Four lovely little board books in this set by Thompson. Told very simply but with plenty of energy, these books look at different kinds of weather and children out playing in it. Rain begins with a bit of hesitation but ends with the merry fun of jumping into puddles. Snow invites children to breathe out clouds and plunk right down in the snow. Sun has clothes coming off and playing in a pool together. Wind roars from page to page but then in the end is gentle too.

Introduce toddlers to different kinds of weather and different seasons, but even more importantly get them outside to experience it themselves too!  Appropriate for ages 1-2.

Reviewed from copies received from Child’s Play.

Review: Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle

such a little mouse

Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Stephanie Yue

A little mouse lives in a hole in a meadow under a clump of dandelions. In the spring, he heads out of his home and explores the area around him. He sees a snail, a woodpecker and buzzing bees. He also sees himself reflected in a puddle. And each day he brings home a seed that he stores away in his storeroom. In the summer, the little mouse watches beavers building a dam in the pond, visits a toad, and sees a porcupine. He brings a sprig of watercress home each day and adds that to his storeroom. In autumn, the little mouse watches geese flying, ants marching, and brings home an acorn to his storeroom which is filling up. In winter snow falls and the little mouse can’t see the grass anymore. He heads right back into his hole and stays there, well fed and warm.

This picture book explores seasons and the changes seasons bring in nature from a gentle and cheerful mouse perspective. It captures the natural rhythms by echoing them in the writing.  Little mouse leaves his hole the same way no matter what the season, by counting to three and popping out. Then he explores, discovering three things in nature to pay attention to. Some small and some large. Schertle’s tone invites young readers to take a look at the nature outside their own holes and visit it each day to see the changing seasons.

Yue’s illustrations also show nature as a place to safely visit and explore. The illustrations celebrate nature and its beauty and variety. They also pay homage to classic stories like Peter Rabbit while down in the mouse’s burrow with his homey furniture and then his baking and soup making in the winter months.

A simple story, but one that has a wonderful rhythm and poetry to it that moves it to the top of the large pile of seasonal stories. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

Review: Here in the Garden by Briony Stewart

here in the garden

Here in the Garden by Briony Stewart

Released March 1, 2015.

This import from Australia tells the seasonal story of a boy and his garden.  A boy spends time in his backyard, but is missing someone.  The wind blows, he plants seedlings in the garden, and dreams of his special someone joining his side.  When the rain comes, he watches from the back steps, still missing the one who would love to see the garden turn so green.  Summer comes with its sunshine and heat and the boy continues to feel his loss but begins to realize that he can still be in touch with the one he misses by being out in nature and enjoying the same things they used to do together.

Stewart beautifully allows the book to speak to anyone who has experienced loss.  In the end though, this book is clearly about the loss of a pet rabbit, the same one who is pictured at the boy’s side throughout the story.  That reveal is done tenderly and gently, clearly tying the boy to nature and to his memories of all the times they had together.  It’s beautifully and caringly presented.

Stewart’s art is washed in watercolors, colors that sweep and blow across the page, evoking the movement of air and the freshness of outdoors.  Though the book is filled with loneliness, the art remains resolutely lovely and cheery.  Even the one in the dark of night is filled with a light that illuminates.

A quiet story of grief, loss and the healing power of nature, this is a lovely little foreign title.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Kane Miller.