This pair of engaging lift-the-flap books both take readers on journeys through the woods. The book about homes features a snail who is looking for the perfect home, not realizing what even the youngest readers will realize right away, that it’s on his back! The book looks at a variety of burrows, nests, holes in trees, tunnels, caves and more. The book about tracks tells the story of a fawn looking for its mother. The book offers a wide variety of tracks to explore. Some are in the forest, others on the shore, and still others on the farm and finally in the mountains.
There are a lot of lift-the-flap books on the market. These are something special because they allow little ones to guess the animal before lifting the flap. They also are full of information about the animals written at just the right level for young children. There is so much to explore in each of the books that it’s a real pleasure to open each flap.
Perfect for the youngest budding naturalists. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Whose Home Is It reviewed from e-galley provided by Albatros. Whose Track Is It reviewed from copy provided by Albatros.
The day starts with a peaceful song of birds and crickets. The hornets buzz in and out of their paper nest and the frogs croak from the lily pads. The melody continues through the morning, until the weather changes. Dark clouds enter the sky accompanied by the crash of thunder cymbals. The rhythm of falling rain takes up the beat. The rain drives down, filling the air. Then it ends with plunks of drops into puddles. The symphony is complete.
This picture book is beautifully simple. The text is carries the theme of music throughout the day, applying it cleverly to the sounds of the meadow. The various noises made by the animals will have children joining into the noise and creating their own music along the way. Admirably even with the onset of the storm, the pacing and feel of the book stays the same. There is no panic at the natural storm but a calmness that accompanies the noise and rhythm.
The illustrations are done with lovely fine lines that celebrate the vegetation and inhabitants of the meadow. Most of the animals are given a color that is their own from the orange fox to the green frog to the yellow bird. This will invite conversation about the illustrations, colors and what is happening on the pages. Some of the pages are wonderful in their simple drama such as the spread of rainfall that covers the meadow.
A musical look at nature. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
A boy moves from the city to a new home in the forest. At first, the nights are too quiet and the mornings are too loud. He goes on hikes with his mother, but it takes him some time to discover that there is a lot to do in the forest. He starts studying the insects, building small rock dams for little fish, and also makes friends with a fox. The two of them spend their days living in parallel. Then one morning, there is a column of smoke on the horizon. The boy and his mother must leave their home and the animals flee in front of the burning forest. They all lose their homes in the blaze. Months later, everyone is safe and they begin to rebuild. The forest doesn’t look the same, but things are slowly returning, the forest healing itself.
Written by a volunteer firefighter, this picture book looks at the deep connectivity to home, particularly one where you experience nature and animals living around you. That first part of the book as the boy steadily grows to love his new home makes a strong foundation for the devastation that follows. Readers will worry about the fox and other animals who can’t leave in a car for safety. The story is moving and timely with the current wildfires.
The art really looks closely at nature and the forest habitat, filling the pages with verdant greens and lovely cool pools of water, flowers, fallen logs, and much more. Some of the pages are wordless, allowing readers to simply sink into the natural world along with the protagonist. The pages about the fire capture the eerie light of the blaze, filling the images with a sense of impending danger.
A look at connecting with nature and the resilience to start again. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
This picture book explores the fourteen species of monkey that all live together in Manu National Park in Peru. They all live in the rainforest together and survive successfully near one another thanks to their different diets, different heights for their habitats, and different body sizes. The day begins with the red howler monkeys who climb to the very tops of the trees to bellow. The spider monkeys live high up as well, searching for their favorite fruits. Down near the ground, sakis race and jump. Each monkey is shown with Jenkins’ detailed illustrations, their space in the rainforest documented, and their activities and diet explored. It’s a look at an entire community of monkeys all living happily as neighbors.
Stewart’s writing is clear and concise. She has a knack for sharing fascinating details about each monkey, such as how long the howlers rest each day (18 hours) and that capuchins will eat anything they can catch. The book offers layers of text, including basic text that could be shared aloud while the more detailed information is also there for those who want to explore it. Even more information is available at the end of the book along with additional resources.
As always, Jenkins’ illustrations done with paper art are phenomenal. He can make paper look furry, smooth, veined and fruity. He’s a master at the craft, creating animals that are realistic and artistic.
This book doesn’t monkey around, providing great information in a gorgeous format. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Musqon accompanies her grandmother to the salt marsh where they are going to pick sweetgrass. The salt marsh is where the river meets the ocean. Her grandmother explains that she helped her own grandmother pick sweetgrass as a girl to weave into baskets and use in ceremonies. To Musqon, all of the grasses look the same, so her grandmother shows her what to look for to find sweetgrass among all the other grasses. She explains that they never pick the first blade of sweetgrass that they see, to make sure that sweetgrass continues to the next generation. When her grandmother tells her that sweetgrass has a shiny green tassel and blades with a purple stem and that it is easy to pick, Musqon is confident she can find it on her own. It isn’t until Musqon takes her time, thinks about what she is there to do, and really sees the salt marsh that she can find sweetgrass herself.
Written by a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and a citizen of the Passamaquoddy Nation, this picture book is a gentle story of Native traditions shared with a new generation. The text of the book shares Passamaquoddy-Maliseet words in the dialogue of the characters. It takes the time, slowing us all down, to explain the importance of sweetgrass and how to find it. The moment when Musqon takes her own time and gives herself space is beautifully created.
Baker learned about sweetgrass for this book also the landscape in which it grows. She shows a delicacy with both in her illustrations, celebrating sweetgrass itself and also showing the beautiful landscape where the river meets the ocean.
A rich and vital look at sweetgrass and heritage. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Children and animals both love to play. This picture book incorporates Cree words into the narrative. Animals play in the grass, hopping, sniffing, sneaking. They peek and peep. Children play too, leaping through the grass or laying down in it. Animals swim and so do children. Animals slide and rumble and wiggle, just like children sledding in the snow. Animals settle down, roosting and yawning, finally falling asleep. Children do too.
Told in very simple language, woven with Cree words, this picture book shows the connection the natural world and its value to children in particular. The Cree words repeat with the children themselves saying them, something that would be great to do in a story time when this book is shared. The illustrations show a diverse group of children playing outside, acting just like the animals. A glossary of Cree words is offered at the end of the book along with a list of the animals who appear on the pages.
A frolic of a picture book that speaks to the importance of outdoor play. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Greystone Kids.
Begin with a Bee by Liza Ketchum, Jacqueline Briggs and Phyllis Root, illustrated by Claudia McGehee (9781517908041)
On a winter day, take a look in a small hole and you will find a solitary rusty-patched queen bee. She waits all winter long, her body holding everything needed to create a new colony of bees that year. As the sun shines and spring comes, the bee awakens and travels from flower to flower, eating and eating. Now she must find where she will build her nest. Once she finds the right spot, she builds a pot of wax from her body and fills it with nectar to help her survive the rainy days and the long days of caring for her eggs. She carries pollen to the nest until she lays her eggs and sits with them, shivering to keep them warm. The eggs hatch into grubs who them make cocoons and weeks later the pupae are finally bees! The queen continues to lay eggs through the summer as the other worker bees gather pollen. That fall, the new queens mate with male bees from neighboring colonies and then must find their own hole to survive the winter.
This picture book celebrates the life of the rusty-patched bee by focusing on how they survive the winter and how one lone queen bee carries the future of an entire colony in her body. Throughout the book, the authors show their own marveling at the way that nature works and the incredible burden and hard work this little queen bee must accomplish to allow her offspring to survive. The text is simple and poetic, letting even the smallest children learn about bees and life cycles.
The illustrations are done in scratchboard art that richly mimics woodcut prints. The thick black lines are accompanied by natural colors that evoke the nature around the bee habitat, including a wide variety of the native plants and flowers that keep them alive. Detailed images of the bee lifecycle are shared, often embraced by oval shapes.
A gorgeous and informative look at the bee lifecycle. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by University of Minnesota Press.
This picture book biography looks at the country life of N.C. Wyeth and his family through the eyes of his artist daughter, Henriette. Henriette joins her father as he heads out into the countryside to paint. The two quietly go out, avoiding her talkative sister who is in the henhouse and her brother who is in his workshop building things. Her father greets the flowers along the way, finally stopping to paint the landscape before them. The two sense the world around them, draw the details they see, and smell the earth and plants, painting the sky. They paint together until it is time to head home, and even then Henriette stays behind to paint even more.
The author first discovered Henriette through N.C. Wyeth’s letters and then went on to learn more about her. The statements that the book has Wyeth say to his daughter are taken from his writing about art. The language in the book is poetic and rich, showing all of us how to look more deeply at the world around us and celebrate the small things we see and the large landscape and sky as well.
Bates was also taught art by her own father and notes in her Illustrator’s note that this book pays homage to the Wyeth’s and also to her own experience as she grew up. The illustrations are an engaging mix of watercolor landscapes and then also smaller drawings and paintings that Henriette would have made as they wandered from things she dreamt up and details she noticed.
A lovely look at the Wyeth family, the talented Henriette and how the artistic eye is taught. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
One day when out on a snowy walk, a little girl and her abuela found an injured bird. They brought it home and took care of it. As it healed, they kept it in a cage and also let it fly around their living room. The bird was just as fantastic as everything else is at Abuela’s house. When the bird was better, they released it out the window. It flew off over the city until they couldn’t see it any longer. Winter turned to spring. The little bird returned to their balcony. The little girl wanted to keep it, but instead they decided that the bird could visit them whenever it liked.
Told in simple sentences, this picture book is beautifully quiet and thoughtful. Readers will enjoy the discovery of the bird and the care that the pair take with getting it better. There is sadness as the bird has to be set free and then a joy when it returns. Without being heavy handed, this picture book explores how we can help nature without needing to own it or change it.
The illustrations capture the warmth of Abuela’s home and the rich connection she has with her granddaughter. The two spend lots of time together, reading and gardening, just being with one another on the pages.
Quiet and simple. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers.