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What is it about beavers?

5 Aug

I grew up in a country that had a beaver on a coin and I now live us a state that has a beaver on its flag. What is it about beavers?

Rachel Poliquin answers my question in her new book: they have SUPERPOWERS!!!

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Beavers: The Superpower Field Guide is the first book in her new middle-grade nonfiction Superhero Field Guide series and it is terrific!

Publisher’s Summary: Meet Elmer, an ordinary beaver. He may not be as mighty as a lion or as dangerous as a shark. He may be squat and brown. But never underestimate a beaver.

I can almost hear you saying, “But aren’t beavers just lumpy rodents with buck teeth and funny flat tails?”

Yes, they are! And believe it or not, those buck teeth and funny flat tails are just a few of the things that make beavers extraordinary.

Written in an engaging, humorous style, this book is a long way from the more serious books about animals on most shelves. It will appeal to young readers who love to read about animals, and to those who don’t, but might have to do so for a project.

Each chapter takes on a new beaver superpower, moving from their giant rodent teeth at the front , to their super stink at the back end. Like the tex, the illustrations – by Nicholas John Frith like the text – are a mix of fact and whimsy.

The second book in the series, Moles: The Superpower Field Guide, came out in June. The next book, Ostriches,  is due out in November. The fourth (and final?) book, Eels, is set for publication in June 2020. They would be a fun addition to any classroom where animals are studied.

 

Save that donkey

17 Sep

Maybe you’ve seen this video of baby goats in pyjamas.

It is the visual I held in my mind this weekend as I read Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech, even though the Winslow in the title is a baby miniature donkey who does not wear pyjamas.

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With simple language and short chapters, this is a perfect book for an elementary age reader who loves animals.

Publisher’s Summary: Perfect for fans of Charlotte’s Web and The One and Only Ivan, Saving Winslow is an uplifting modern classic in the making about a young boy who befriends an ailing newborn donkey and nurses him back to health, from New York Timesbestseller and Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech.

Louie doesn’t have the best luck when it comes to nurturing small creatures. So when his father brings home a sickly newborn mini donkey, he’s determined to save him. He names him Winslow. Taking care of him helps Louie feel closer to his brother, Gus, who is far, far away in the army.

Everyone worries that Winslow won’t survive, especially Louie’s quirky new friend, Nora, who has experienced loss of her own. But as Louie’s bond with Winslow grows, surprising and life-altering events prove that this fragile donkey is stronger than anyone could have imagined.

Written in the spirit of Creech favorites Moo and Love That Dog, this standout tale about love and friendship and letting go will tug at the heartstrings.

P.S. Pyjamas is my preferred spelling. It is the British spelling I grew up with. I like how it looks, with the y and j side by side, and just can’t bring myself to spell it with three As.

Hooray for Baby Monkey!!!

26 Apr

At book club on Monday night, we couldn’t say enough good things about Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin.

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Publisher’s Summary:

Who is Baby Monkey?

He is a baby.

He is a monkey.

He has a job.

He is Baby Monkey, Private Eye!

Lost jewels?

Missing pizza?

Stolen spaceship?

Baby Monkey can help…

if he can put on his pants!

Baby Monkey’s adventures come to life in an exciting blend of picture book, beginning reader, and graphic novel. With pithy text and over 120 black and white drawings accented with red, it is ideal for sharing aloud and for emerging readers.

Hooray for Baby Monkey!

OK, the whole pants thing is just too cute, and just saying the word “pants” made all the book clubbers gush.

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Here is the lowdown.  The book is divided into five chapters, each a case that Baby Monkey has to solve. Each case follows the same pattern, making it an exciting and easy to read beginning chapter book.

The authors have included a hilarious bibliography and index, sure to keep adults just as intrigued.

And, just because it is too good not to include, here are the creators, talking about Baby Monkey:

 

A book for animal lovers

4 Dec

One Amazing Elephant, by Linda Oatman High, is a quiet middle grade novel. It reminds me a little of The One and Only Ivan  because it alternates perspectives between Lily and Queenie Grace, providing readers with a deep understanding of and empathy for the elephant’s experience.

It seems to be flying under the radar and not getting a lot of attention, but there is definitely an audience for it. Any reader who loves animals will love it.

 

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Publisher’s Summary:  A poignant middle grade animal story from talented author Linda Oatman High that will appeal to fans of Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. In this heartwarming novel, a girl and an elephant face the same devastating loss—and slowly realize that they share the same powerful love.

Twelve-year-old Lily Pruitt loves her grandparents, but she doesn’t love the circus—and the circus is their life. She’s perfectly happy to stay with her father, away from her neglectful mother and her grandfather’s beloved elephant, Queenie Grace.

Then Grandpa Bill dies, and both Lily and Queenie Grace are devastated. When Lily travels to Florida for the funeral, she keeps her distance from the elephant. But the two are mourning the same man—and form a bond born of loss. And when Queenie Grace faces danger, Lily must come up with a plan to help save her friend.

Your part matters

6 Nov

The cold and rain have returned to the Pacific Northwest. I put flannel sheets on my bed and baked cranberry-pumpkin bread this weekend. When Lucy and I went out for a walk, few people were on the street and Lucy turned right around and headed for home as soon as she had done her business.

I was warm and cozy at home when I heard about the latest tragedy.   Fortunately, the characters of Come With Me, written by Holly M. McGhee and illustrated by Pascal Lemaître, reminded me, and younger readers,  that it is important to get out of my cozy comfort zone and be a positive part of the world.

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Publisher’s Summary:

McGhee’s website has a great explanation of the story behind the book. It is worth reading.

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Frog Log Dog

27 Sep

As you might know, I am a sucker for anything basset hound related. So, when I saw the newest book, Dog on a Frog,  by Kes and Clair gray and Jim Field, I was hooked even before I cracked the cover.

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Amazon Summary: “You know the rules,” said cat. “Cats sit on mats, frogs sit on logs, and dogs sit on FROGS!”

“Well, I’m changing the rules,” said the frog.

In this hilarious sequel to Frog on a Log?, frog decides that he does not want to sit on a log, and he definitely does not want a dog to sit on a frog! So he changes the rules. Now, dogs sit on logs, and cats sit on gnats! But what will frog decide to sit on now?

 

Originally published in Britain, the US cover has been translated from the original British.

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It is a sequel, of sorts, to Frog on a Log,  in which the eponymous frog wants to shake up the animal world and sit where he wants. Animal rhymes ensue.

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Amazon Summary: A read-aloud story that will have kids rhyming around the house!

“It’s very simple, really. Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas, and frogs sit on logs.”

Each animal’s designated seat rhymes with that animal’s name. “It’s not about being comfortable,” explains the cat. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

The frog does not want to sit on a log. Doing his best to find an alternative place to sit, the frog asks the cat a litany of questions. For every answer the cat has, the frog has another question–until the frog finds out what dogs sit on!

Peppered with catchy rhymes, FROG ON A LOG? shows young readers that every animal has a special place to sit. With rhymes that are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’s beginner books, FROG ON A LOG? is a fun, educational read-aloud story that helps teach phonics!

 

 

Getting to know you

20 Aug

Earlier this year, I joined a book club. It might surprise you that I’ve never belonged to one. This group is devoted to children’s & YA literature. Instead of reading, then discussing one book a month, we have a list of 10 or more. One of the books from our July meeting was Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa. and illustrated by Jun Takabatake.

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Publisher’s Summary:It’s hard to imagine someone you’ve never seen. Giraffe is bored, as usual. He’d love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen pal – Penguin. Giraffe knows nothing about penguins and his letters are full of questions. What does a penguin look like? Where is a penguin’s neck? And so the letters begin to fly from horizon to horizon. Yours Sincerely, Giraffe is a funny tale of mistaken assumptions and friendship.

There is a lot to like here, especially when there is so much talk about how we treat people who are other. Misunderstandings and assumptions happen, but the new friends work through the problem to come to a deeper understanding.

On a somewhat related theme, I just saw this video of Grace Lin talking about racism in favorite childhood books. It is worth watching.

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