Grow: Secrets of Our DNA by Nicola Davies

Grow Secrets of Our DNA by Nicola Davies

Grow: Secrets of Our DNA by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton (9781536212723)

Take a look at living things and their DNA in this informative picture book. Living things grow in different habitats, some grow quickly and others very slowly. Some grow to only a small size while others become enormous. It is each creature’s DNA that serves as a pattern how it will grow, from nose shapes to eye color. Your DNA also shows who is related to whom and what animals are closest to us genetically. DNA connects us to our ancestors and to other creatures in our world. It is both unique and universal.

Davies presents this scientific information in an engaging mix of details about DNA and how it works and also a marveling at the role that DNA plays in our lives and throughout the generations. That tone makes this book a great pick to share aloud with a classroom that is exploring these concepts. It is a very readable and delightful nonfiction picture book.

The art by Sutton is marvelous, detailed and interesting. From DNA charts and double helix to dinosaur skeletons and all sorts of animals from around the world, the illustrations invite exploration. They also depict a wide variety of people on the pages, diverse and of all ages.

A top notch nonfiction picture book that shows how we are all connected. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick.

Feel the Fog by April Pulley Sayre

Feel the Fog cover image

Feel the Fog by April Pulley Sayre (9781534437609)

This is the fourth book in the Weather Walks series, following books on snow, rain and autumn. Here the phenomenon of fog is explored in all of its mysterious qualities. Fog rolls in, covering stone and forests. It covers up details of the landscape, making lights dim. The fog is cold and dewy. It coats spiderwebs and drips. The picture book goes on to explain why fog forms and the variety of places where fog is most likely to appear. It’s a misty, moist beautiful exploration of fog.

Sayre excels at mixing poetry with facts. She creates a sense of wonder and fascination with weather and its various forms. Her poem keeps the foggy facts accessible for small children, inviting them to explore and experience fog themselves. The end of the book includes an author’s note on fog and water vapor, explaining in more detail how fog forms and why it acts and feels the way it does.

As always, Sayre’s photographs are exceptional. She has so many images of fog here, from fog entering landscapes to close-ups of animals and creatures in the fog, both cloaked by it and clear against the foggy backgrounds. It is like taking a walk with her through the fog, as she shows you all of its wonders.

Beautiful and mysterious, explore the fog in this nonfiction picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Beach Lane Books.

If You Were Night by Muon Thi Van

If You Were Night by Muon Thi Van, illustrated by Kelly Pousette (9781525300141)

How would you feel and act if you were night? Would you hide under covers or head outside? When you heard a moth drinking nectar would you hush it or lean in? If something touched your ankle would you freeze or skitter? Would you search for treasures in the garbage with the raccoons? Would you join in the chorus of the frogs at the pond? Would you dive alongside the otters or stitch with the spiders? Would you hunt with the owl? Would you stand still and listen to all the night noises? When dawn arrived would you linger and taste the first morning dew or cuddle back in bed carried by the light? There is so much to love about the night, what would you choose?

Through asking a series of inspired questions, the author shows readers the many delights of the night. Focused on animals and their nighttime activities primarily, the book invites readers to make choices about joining in or witnessing. The options to join in are particularly captivating, allowing the reader to see themselves exploring and living in the night.

The illustrations are done in photographed dioramas that are light with a moon-bright bulb, creating nighttime shadows. The images are a delicate mix of greens and flowerbeds and also greys that truly evoke the moon at night. The dioramas are done in cut paper, creating a detailed nighttime world.

A marvel of a nighttime book that is perfect for bedtime or camping outside. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Kids Can Press.

Outside In by Deborah Underwood

Outside In by Deborah Underwood

Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby (9781328866820)

This book calls readers back to be outside rather than staying inside. It reminds us that we used to simply be part of outside, and that at times now even when we are outside we keep ourselves separate. Outside though uses a few tricks to remind us that it is there, peeking in windows, sending sunsets and shadows, tapping on roofs and projecting bird song. The outside is also all around us inside in our sweaters, chairs, and food. Our pets remind us too as do the little insects that get inside. Outside waits for us, until we answer.

Underwood’s simple poetic lines soar in this picture book, creating moments of real beauty with her words. Using “outside” and “inside” again and again, she paints connection and demands that we all see the outside entering our inside. It’s a book that insists that we not only look outside, but acknowledge our connection to nature and the outdoors and get outside!

Derby’s illustrations are awash in watercolor that plays the bright aliveness of the outdoors against the gray of the interior areas. She uses yellows, orange, peach, purples and greens to beckon us all to look out the windows and connect.

Beautifully written and illustrated, this is an exemplary picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel

Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel

Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel & Marije Tolman (9781646140077)

Little fox is chasing two butterflies because they are purple. He runs so quickly that he doesn’t notice the ground falling away and takes a horrible tumble. He lands hard and starts to dream. It’s a dream about his life from when he was a very small baby to growing up with his brothers and sisters. It’s a dream of smells, of mice and deer, of wind and water. Daddy Fox warns Little Fox not to be so curious but he can’t help but wonder about the little human with the camera. It turns out that that little human saves Little Fox from getting his head stuck in a jar. Then after his terrible fall, the little human arrives just in time to save Little Fox one more time.

While some might read the description above as a cautionary tale, this book doesn’t take that tone at all. Instead it celebrates the small things in life, a mother’s love, a father’s attention, siblings, food, and exploration. Throughout there is a feeling of joy and marvel, such as the memory of licking drops of water off of a deer’s nose. The book is also peppered with smaller moments, blackberries, birds, and orange balls.

The illustrations are unique and ethereal. Using photographs to create her landscapes, which are then depicted in vibrant orange or cool teal, Tolman places her characters in them with precision. Other pages are done on creamy paper where the landscapes and characters are drawn. Still others play on the white background of the pages.

This European import is quiet and profound. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from egalley provided by Chronicle Books.

Over and Under the Rainforest by Kate Messner

Over and Under the Rainforest by Kate Messner

Over and Under the Rainforest by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (9781452169408)

This is the third book in the Over and Under series that explores ecosystems with children. The young narrator hikes into the rain forest with Tito, their guide. They discover the hidden world in the canopies of the trees, filled with monkeys, insects and birds. They cross a rope bridge that sways above the sleep crocodiles in the river. As they get higher, they see monkeys swing in the trees. Sloths ignore the rain as it starts to fall while blue morpho butterflies take shelter on the tree trunks. Everywhere there is life, small and large, predator and prey. The two people make it home for dinner, as darkness falls.

Messner creates a story that wraps the reader in the experience of walking through a rain forest. Every page offers new animals, the sound of rain, the sway of the bridges. She shows it all with such wonder and fascination that one can’t read the book without also getting curious and wanting to learn more. She offers that in her Author’s Note as well as providing more information on the animals in the book.

Neal’s art is vibrant and beautiful, showing the play of light through the huge trees. He depicts each of the animals, some well known and others that will be new to the reader. As fog descends in the book, it fills the pages creating mystery and beauty.

A journey worth taking. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Chronicle Books.

How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward

How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward

How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Diana Sudyka (9781481467056)

This preschool-friendly picture book explores the basics of bird watching. There are many ways to find a bird, such as offering seeds. Sometimes you may need to blend in, such as near a pond. Being very quiet is also key. Birds aren’t just flying in the sky, they are also down on the ground foraging. Birds also eat, swim and wade in the water. Sometimes it can take having good eyes to detect a hidden bird. And of course, looking up at telephone wires and trees is a good idea too. Putting up feeders and bird houses helps and lets you watch birds right from your window. But the best way of all to find a bird is to close your eyes and listen for their song.

Told in the simple language, this picture book invites readers to enter nature and look for birds. With various birds on the pages, the book offers examples of different birds and their habitats. The text is encouraging, showing readers how easy it is to find birds all around them and become a bird watcher themselves. The author’s note at the end of the book offers more tips for bird watching, encouraging using a field guide and creating your own list of birds you have spotted. It also mentions becoming a Citizen Scientist and helping with bird counts.

The illustrations are key in this book, showing various birds on the pages nicely labeled. The images are bold and colorful, filled at times with a myriad of birds and other times with birds the reader must spot. The pictures invite conversation and discovery.

A merry introduction to birds and bird watching just right for preschoolers. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Beach Lane Books.

Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada

Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada

Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada, illustrated by Ryoji Arai, translated by David Boyd (9781592702916)

This picture book explores how weather impacts the sky and its light. Starting with just a pitter patter of rain, the rain steadily grows heavier and louder. Soon the lightning cracks across the sky and thunder booms. Colors swirl in the storm as the wind rises. Just as suddenly, the rain stops and light returns to the sky. Raindrops form crystals in the sunlight. Evening comes, spreading colors across the sky. The white moon rises in the darkening sky. Stars sparkle above, the moon reflected in a pool as everyone falls asleep.

The text in this Japanese import is marvelously poetic. It speaks to the impact of a storm on the sky and on the light you see. The drama of the storm is captured in both the text and the illustrations, just as the returning calm is. Both are celebrated in the book, something quite unusual as the quiet is allowed to be truly focused on.

The illustrations are what sets this picture book apart. Illustrated with glorious paintings that show nature and the changing light, the book shimmers and shines. The changing light sweeps on the pages bringing sun shafts, pink lightning strikes, dark night, and a bright moon.

Unusual and intensely beautiful, this picture book beckons you outside to linger for awhile. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Enchanted Lion Books.

 

Claude by Emma Bland Smith

Claude by Emma Bland Smith

Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Jennifer M. Potter (9781632172693)

Claude hatched out of an egg in a Louisiana swamp with his siblings. Unlike them though, he was white rather than green. His different color made him easy prey for predators in the swamp and his siblings also were uneasy around him. The owner of the alligator farm gave the little alligator to a special zoo in Florida. At that zoo, he was safe but all alone. He lived that way for 13 years until a museum in California wanted him to come and live with them. They had another alligator name Bonnie, but Bonnie did not get along with Claude and bit him in the foot. Afterwards, Claude had to have surgery to remove one of his toes and took weeks to recover. When he returned, he was alone again in his pen except for the snapping turtles, and then something wonderful happened.

This nonfiction picture book tells the story of the beloved white alligator who charmed museum-goers in San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences. The focus of the book is on Claude’s well-being and the care he received throughout his life to keep him safe. The need for him to have contact with other animals is also a feature as zookeepers struggle to provide that full life for him. Written in frank and simple language, this book nicely balances the amount of text per page, making it a book that can be shared aloud with preschoolers.

Potter’s illustrations offer a cartoon-like look at Claude and his life. Some pages like Bonnie eying up Claude before attacking him are menacing, while others are filled with a gentle joy as Claude finds animals he can live with. Claude pops on the page as a white creature, showing just how special and unique he was.

A friendly look at an interesting animal who found a home that was safe and supportive. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little Bigfoot.