Balancing Act: Simple Fun and Math


Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Two mice put together a stick and rock to make a teeter-totter.  With one mouse on each end, they balance.  But when a salamander wants to join in, the teeter-totter tips, until another salamander comes along.  When one frog jumps in, the teeter-totter really tips, but balance is restored with another jumping frog coming on.  Trouble comes along though when a bird wants to join in too.  For a little while there is balance with all of the animals on one side and the bird on the other.  But then the weight is too much for the stick.  All of the animals except the mice head off to do something else.  The mice?  Well, they still have a stick and a rock…

Stoll Walsh has a way with simple stories that really allows them to shine.  Her use of very basic text allows her books to be used with very young children.  Her art is also simplicity itself with its paper collage on a white background.  She uses great color as the animals join in with a bright red salamander, teal frog and blue bird.  At the same time as she is giving an engaging story, she is also introducing the concept of balancing and how to add objects together to make two sides equal.  A book that offers basic math concepts in such a gentle and enjoyable way is very special.

A jolly picture book that offers equal story and concept for preschoolers.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.



ZooBorns! Zoo Babies from around the World by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland

Even without the tie-in to a popular animal blog, this book will fly off your shelves.  Pair gorgeous close-ups of baby animals with clear, concise text and you get lots of appeal.  The book offers a glimpse of animals in a way that is very approachable.  Each pair of pages has five lines of text in a large font and one full-page image of the animals.  Adding to the appeal is the fact that each of the animals is named and offered as an individual.  The fennec fox image alone is worth picking up the book for:

The animals range from the cuddly like foxes and tigers to the strange like aardvarks, hippos and anteaters.  In the rear of the book is more information on each of the animals, though even that will most likely not satisfy a child whose interest is peaked by the book.  I see lots of fennec fox research in my future.

A charming and approachable book that is sure to be enjoyed by many children, this book is appropriate for children aged 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 Best Books

Kirkus Reviews has announced their lists of the 2010 Best Books for Children and Teens.  Interestingly, they have broken their list into categories, making it very easy to head just to the section you are most interested in.  So there are complete lists for children and teens, or you can browse by Animals, Art, Contemporary Novels, Graphic Novels, and many more.  Just paging through, there are so many titles that I have yet to read!  Here’s to new-found great reads.