Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Micha Archer (9781580897983)
As winter turns to spring, changes happen all around. Refreshingly, this book looks at those changes through a mix of poetry and science. In the first pages, the differences between poetry and science are pointed out in a way that makes perfect sense. Subjects like hibernation, streams, wildlife, maple syrup, flowers, wind, bees, and clouds are all explored. The poetry is entirely in equation form like the title, swiftly capturing the essence of something rather like a haiku but in an even briefer format. Readers are encouraged to see poetry and science all around them.
Salas plays with the poetic form here, creating a mathematical poetry style that is entirely joyous to read. Because of the brevity of the form, the narrative is particularly necessary for some of the poems to make sense for readers. The narrative is also brief and focused, explaining the science behind what we see in nature.
The illustrations by Archer are done in oils and collage. They are filled with deep colors of spring sky, blooming flowers, pond water and other parts of nature. Layered and filled with textures too, the illustrations are rich and saturated.
A winning mix of poetry and science, this is a book that captures the wonder of spring. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Charlesbridge.
Sea Bear by Lindsay Moore (9780062791283)
Told in the voice of a polar bear, this picture book follows her journey along the ice. She has learned to be patient: in her hunting and with the weather. Spring comes breaking the ice into smaller pieces. The bear hunts seals and takes naps with a full belly. With summer, the ice melts even more. Now the sea bear must swim to the shore that she can smell in the distance. She swims for days, accompanied by other sea animals as she swims including whales, narwhals, and walruses. She is caught in a storm but eventually makes it to the beach. During the summer, she grows thin, waiting for the freeze to come. She knows she will teach her own cubs patience too.
Moore manages to tell the story of a wild animal without anthropomorphizing her too much. The use of the bear’s perspective makes the story all the more personal and impactful. The impact of climate change is clearly depicted here, but not mentioned directly as the cause until the author’s note at the end. The writing is dramatic and immediately draws readers into the story where they will learn all about the incredible story of the polar bear’s year.
The illustrations are done in watercolor, graphite, inks, crayon and colored pencil. They are just as intense as the story, showing the amazing journey and depth of water the polar bears swim in. Adding sea creatures to her swim adds to the beauty of the Arctic and shows the scale of the bear in the vast ocean.
Moving and informative, this picture book tells a detailed story of one creature’s patience and resilience. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Rain by Anders Holmer (9780802855077)
Haiku tells the story of different types of rain in this poetry picture book. The haiku are all about nature, some about rain directly and others about other things like falling newspapers or cascading petals. The poems form a series of vignettes that show different parts of the world and various environments from the arctic to the Himalayas to the desert. They are bound together with the rhythms of the poems and the journey together to explore rain and our world.
The haiku poems range from solemn to merry, some carrying serious weight and others lighter. They mirror the weather, some with lightning and dark clouds while others fill with pink petals and friendship. The illustrations themselves are large and have the feel of traditional tales mixed with a modern edge. They show different parts of the world and take readers on a fascinating journey as rain descends on each page and yet each type of rain is different from the others.
A skilled book of haiku that explores our wide world and the nature we find there. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
A Web by Isabelle Simler (9781441328434)
A spider takes a look at the things around her and then demonstrates her skill as a webmaker and an artist. The book features all sorts of items from the spider’s world. There are twigs, feathers, pebbles, insects, leaves, flowers, and more. With each spread of a variety of different kinds of these items, each item is labeled and the pages are filled with details worth exploring. Sharp-eyed readers will notice a spider lurking nearby. At first this is subtle, but soon the black legs of the spider are impossible to miss. When her art is unveiled at the end, readers will realize the care with which she has chosen from the wide array of different pieces for her work.
Simler’s text is minimal, offering basically the category that the items fall into and then labels for each item. The splendor of this title are the finely detailed illustrations that invite readers in. Children who love to categorize items or enjoy nature will love to pore over the pages here. The addition of the art at the end is a splendid surprise for readers who thought they were in a more serious nonfiction book.
Expect children to want to hold this on their laps and really look at the illustrations. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World by Guillaume Duprat (9781999802851)
This science-focused nonfiction picture book takes a close look at animal eyes and the ways that different animals see the world. Incorporating flaps to lift, readers can lift the eyes of the animals on the pages to see the way that they do. What does it look like to only see things clearly that are a few inches away? How does it change things to only be able to see three colors instead of five? What happens when a bird can see all the way around in a 360 view? How do insect eyes work to form a full image of what they are perceiving? All of these questions and more are answered in this engaging nonfiction picture book.
Beautifully designed, this picture book offers an engaging format combined with fascinating facts. While reading about how other creatures see the world is interesting, being able to actually see what that means in a visual way is incredible. The book includes mammals like cats, dogs, horses, and cows and then moves on to other types of animals like reptiles, insects, and birds. Each page turn brings a new animal with a new flap to peek behind.
The art here is vital. The flaps to lift offer a hidden view into the way these animals perceive the world. The art invites us to look right at the creature and then look at the world through their eyes. It is beautifully done, with all of the animals looking at the same scene so that readers can see the differences clearly.
An eye-opening look at the science of vision and animal eyes. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from copy provided by What on Earth Publishing.
Under the Same Sky by Britta Teckentrup (9781680100945)
This picture book provides a moving look at our interconnected nature around the world. The text is poetic and flowing while the illustrations show animals from different regions and climates. Everyone lives under the same sky, loves in the same way. We play the same games, sing the same songs. We all face challenges and dream big dreams. Through the clever use of cutouts on the pages and dramatic page turns, this picture book is simple and stirring.
Teckentrup excels at creating picture books with unique elements. Here she uses page cutouts to glimpse the beginning of each stanza, tying the different parts of the world even more firmly together. The text is simple and straightforward. It is the illustrations that really shine, showing all sorts of animals living and loving together no matter where they live. The art has a gorgeous light and depth to it, filled with moonlight, sunshine and even the pastels of dawn.
A lovely and simple look at our interconnected world. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
We Are All Me by Jordan Crane (9781943145355)
Released on September 4, 2018.
This bright picture book celebrates the many ways that we are all connected to one another. We are all alive in the same world made up of cloud, water and air, earth, sunshine and plants. We are made of bone and meat, our hearts all beat. We are all made of cells and atoms. And we are all alive and aware, all of us together.
Inspired by an idea his wife had for a holiday called Interdependence Day, this book takes a simple concept and looks deeply at it. The text stays simple but asks readers to think about connectedness in our lives. The text is simple enough to be a poem, using internal rhymes and some repetition to carry it forward. The illustrations use bright colors and pop-art style to invite readers into the rainbow that we all are inside.
Unusual and intriguing, this picture book will be beloved by those who see their own take on human connection on the page. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Toon Books.
Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson (9781626728196)
This nonfiction picture book begins in much the same way that Rachel’s childhood days started: birdsong, insects, forest exploration and insects. Rachel loved to look at the world from the big view and then to kneel down and look very closely at nature. She loved spring days best, returning home after dark to supper and her big family. As the seasons turned, Rachel watched and documented them all, growing bigger herself. She headed off to college to become a writer, until she discovered the microscopic world which led her to science. She worked as a scientist, diving under the sea and then writing books about it. Soon though, she realized that things were changing and species were disappearing. This led to her most important book, Silent Spring, which cautioned about the impact of chemicals on the ecosystem.
Sisson encapsulates Carson’s life in a very approachable way. The first part of the book focuses on Carson’s childhood love of nature and being outside. The text focuses on what Carson sees and experiences. As the book moves to her adult life, the text is about bravery and taking on the unknown. It then moves to her realization of what is happening in nature and her tenacity in figuring out what is going on. Throughout, this is the picture of a girl and woman who loves nature, thinks deeply and writes beautifully enough to change the opinions of a nation.
The illustrations are simple and lovely. They show all of the sounds of nature when Carson is a young child. Those same rich experiences are shown with the ghostly figures of animals that have disappeared due to chemicals. There is no mistaking the warmth of Carson’s home and family and then the strength that it took for her to stand strong in the face of people’s doubts.
A great picture book biography about an amazing woman, this is a timely read. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.
A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker (9780763665968)
A wordless picture book, this tells the story of a girl’s first summer without her beloved dog at her side. As the family heads off on their camping trip, she finds herself on the lake shore alone. She starts skipping stones and as one sinks, the story turns to one of a crashing meteor and dinosaurs. From that meteor comes a rock that moves through time, starting as a large rough chunk of stone and becoming smaller and smaller as it is redesigned. It is the heart of a large statue, the keystone in an arch for a bridge, an elaborate treasure box, and then it sinks beneath the waves when a ship goes down. It is still there until the girl finds it, yellow and bright in her hand, timelessness and connection in a single stone.
This picture book shines with its strong message about the passage of time, the deep feeling of loss and the resilience to recover. It is a book filled with beauty, one that really comes alive with the turning of time deep into the past. That twist at its center is brave, surprising and is what really makes the book ring so true. As always with Becker, the art is exceptional. He captures emotions so clearly on the page and imbues his images with wonder.
An exceptional read by a master storyteller. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.