Noah is waiting on the beach, wondering when he and Nana can take a sail out to see the seals. Nana needs to fix the boat before they go, so Noah must amuse himself on the beach instead. He looks out to see to check for seals, but they don’t like to come in to shore. So Noah digs in the sand while thinking of seals. Suddenly, he notices the pile of sand behind him looks a lot like the body of a seal. Noah steadily works to make the sand look even more like a seal, giving it shape, speckles, whiskers, and eyes and mouth. The two lie on the beach together until Nana calls him because a storm is coming. The two take shelter in the boat under a tarp, but the sand seal is washed away. Nana tells him that the boat is fixed and they can head out to see the seals tomorrow, and that is when Noah sees his seal alive and near the beach. Surely they must take the boat out right now!
A delightful mix of wishful fantasy and the beauty of a day spent on the beach making something, this picture book is a summery joy. The relationship between Nana and Noah is evident right from the beginning, full of warmth and support, but also offering Noah plenty of space to amuse himself. The text is just right, offering a clear view of the setting while moving ahead as quickly as an ocean breeze.
The illustrations are just the right mix of sunshine colored sand and teal sea wave. Noah and his grandmother are Black characters. Noah’s seal is depicted in a way that makes sense for a child to have designed and built it. It’s simple and effective.
Perfect reading for a summery day, whether on the beach or not. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
A little girl heads to the Happydale Animal Shelter to get a dog. The man there agrees that a dog makes an excellent pet, but keeps on offering the girl different animals. Perhaps an awesome anteater? A python? A baboon? Maybe a frog that barks and hides bones? Except frogs can’t do that. How about a lizard dressed up as a dog? It turns out that Happydale Animal Shelter doesn’t have a dog, so the man asks the girl why she wants a dog. Based on her list, he offers her a seal. And you know what? It’s just the right pet for her.
Agee has such a great way of incorporating the surreal with the normal in his books. In this one, we have the normal process of adopting a pet entirely sidetracked with wild animals that would make horrible pets. Readers will love seeing each of the interesting animals and not knowing what is coming next. Agee merrily breaks his series of animals with a dead goldfish and then with the final twist of the seal as the right pet. Agee’s art is his signature watercolor with thick black lines and subdued colors.
A great pick for dog storytimes, even if it doesn’t actually have a dog. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Dial Books for Young Readers.
Penguin Blue has a brand new kite but when he flies it, it lifts him right off the ice and up into the air. Two other penguins try to help and get swept along too. Wilbur the harp seal tries to catch them and joins the group flying along. Blue calls out for help from a polar bear and then Clive is riding along too, his boat and all. They are finally dropped on a lush warm jungle isle where they all agree it is way too hot. Blue has a great solution though, it will just take Clive’s boat, leaves and vines and one good gust of wind that is provided by the elephants on the island. Soon the group are back in their icy home, but there is one stowaway from the island who now needs to figure out how to get back to the warmth of the jungle.
This romp of a picture book is filled with a positive feel throughout. Each new challenge is playfully presented and merrily dealt with through clever solutions. The text rhymes and creates a jaunty cheer that makes this book great fun to share aloud. The rhyming story is written very strongly with a great story arc that solidly supports the humor. This is a book that is immensely satisfying to read.
The design of the book is stellar with playful word design and placement that enhances the strong illustrations. The book is beautifully illustrated with images filled with strong graphic elements, deep colors and also small playful touches. Children will enjoy lingering over the illustrations and spotting the penguins waiting for the bus on an ice floe and the bear losing his map immediately. The combination of strong vivid illustrations and small details make for a book that has its own unique vibe.
A great read-aloud for any penguin story time, this picture book will be enjoyed by preschoolers looking for a complete and playful story. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
This is the true story of Elizabeth, an elephant seal, who decided she wanted to live in the warm waters of the Avon River near the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. People are happy to have Elizabeth in the river, often spending time watching her swim. Then Elizabeth decides that her favorite place to sun is the middle of a two-lane road. It is flat and warm and perfect, except for the dangers of the cars to both Elizabeth and the people. So Elizabeth is towed out to sea, to live with the other elephant seals. But Elizabeth returns. She is removed to the sea over and over again, each time taking her farther away from Christchurch. But she still finds her way back to those warm river waters.
Cox, a famous long-distance, open-water swimmer, has written her first children’s book here. One would never know that it is her first. She writes with a grace and simplicity that make her book entirely readable but also poetic too. She incorporates imagery that will help children understand Elizabeth better: “Moving up the soft shore like a giant inchworm.” She also uses descriptive language to draw contrasts between the waters in the river and those in the cold sea.
Floca, winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal, uses his fine-line drawings to show the merry spirit of Elizabeth both when she is in the warm river waters and upon her amazing returns after being towed away. Floca’s illustrations of Elizabeth on the warm road and her surprise but lack of alarm when the cars approach are beautifully done.
A winning story that tells the story of one unique elephant seal and the town that she decided was her home. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.
This nonfiction book follows the journey of a family to visit the Antarctic Peninsula. They travel aboard an icebreaker ship that has an ice breaking hull but sails only in warmer temperatures. Along the way, the children in the family, Anna and Rory explore the ship. They watch the different birds that follow the ship and find out information on their habitat and how they survive out at sea. Soon they are seeing icebergs, glaciers and lots of snow and ice. They also get to visit places where penguins and seals live. They even spot some killer whales hunting in the ocean. A mix of science and exploration, this book invites readers along on a journey to an icy world that is full of life.
Price sets just the right tone with her book. She writes with a merry voice, one that invites children reading the book to learn right alongside her and her characters. Throughout the book there is a sense of adventure and a strong tie to information and science. This is a book that teaches in an easy and welcoming way.
While Price sets the tone, the incredible photography from Flagg and Pittman truly capture the setting. Their close ups of wounded penguins, hunted seals, and the activity of a penguin colony truly allow readers to see Antarctica up close. Their photography is visually beautiful but also a way to learn more about this incredible place.
Brilliant science nonfiction, join the journey to Antarctica with this gorgeous book. Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Chelsea Print and Publishing.
This nonfiction picture book follows a gray seal through its day. The seal starts off on shore where it is flumping along the sand, seeming slow and sleepy. Then it enters the water and what seemed awkward on land makes it able to swim with incredible grace. As the seal swims, readers learn about their different anatomy, including their ears, whiskers, fins and blubber. At the bottom of the ocean, the seal eats fish and then eats more on its way up to the air again. Returning to the beach, the seal is ready for another nap.
Butterworth truly celebrates this animal in her book. She writes with a mix of prose and poetry, making sure that readers understand how fascinating seals are. Throughout, she uses metaphors to make sure that children relate to the animal. Blubber is compared to a warm blanket. The seaweed at the bottom is a forest. The seal swims like a rocket in the water.
There are many science picture books that use the format of larger text for the basic story and then smaller text for more details. Perhaps best about this book is that Butterworth uses both sections of the book to share scientific information, too often the science is left mostly to the smaller text and younger readers miss out on the fascinating facts.
The artwork by Nelms is simply exquisite. Just like the seal, the book really comes alive in its underwater scenes. Nelms manages to offer lots of small details to look at, but also to capture the wavering light and softness of water. There are illustrations throughout that have a beautiful depth to them, inviting us to hidden places under the water.
A beauty of a science book, this celebration of seals gets my enthusiastic seal of approval. Appropriate for ages 4-6.