The Mouse and the Meadow

April 4th, 2014 · Books

9781584694823Review By JACQUELINE BODNAR

In this story a young mouse ventures out on his own and finds out that nature can be both beautiful and dangerous when you are a mouse. The mouse makes his way through the meadow, meeting various animals along the way. What the mouse learns is that there are some animals that will be friendly to him, while others may bring danger.

This book gives children a good look at nature in the meadow, from the point of view of a mouse, who learns valuable life lessons along the way. While the mouse fears being in nature, because he may become lunch, a friendly animal teaches the mouse that there are many great things about the meadow, too.

There is nothing in this book that vegetarian parents would not want their child exposed to. In fact, it would make a great addition to their book collection. It focuses on nature, is beautifully illustrated, and offers additional educational information in the back, including a look at the idea of animals talking in children’s books. This is a nice book all the way around and one that parents and kids alike will enjoy.

Dawn Publications provided a review copy.

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The Swamp Where Gator Hides

March 30th, 2014 · Books

9781584694717Review By JACQUELINE BODNAR

The Swamp Where Gator Hides takes kids on a little journey with a gator. It takes place in the Florida Everglades, giving children an idea of the types of life they may find in the swamp. Gator is hungry, and while the reader wonders what he will make his meal, the story finishes without him actually eating anything.

This book provides a look at nature and the habits of gators. There isn’t anything in it that vegetarian families should object to, despite the gator’s prey being discussed. It’s a nice book that has been beautifully illustrated and would make a good addition to any child’s book collection.

In addition to the story about gator, this book ends with a page dedicated to explaining more about what a swamp is. There is also a section that offers information on some of the various animals you would find in the swamp, including turtles, snakes, ducks, bullfrogs, and more. They finish the book with tips from the author, to help children get more out of the information, and tips from the illustrator, shedding light on how the illustrations are done.

Dawn Publications provided a review copy.

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Plop & Splat (Find an Answer)

March 28th, 2014 · Books

Plop & Splat coverReview By CAROLYN M. MULLIN

A fellow Pollination Project awardee, David Walega, is a new acquaintance of mine who runs Art for Animals’ Sake, an organization which strives to inspire a message of compassion through teaching artistic skills as a tool to empowerment and developing healthy social coping mechanisms. In other words, they’re an arts education nonprofit  solely focused on animal issues and developing empathy. Pure awesome.

David collaborated on a children’s book, Plop & Splat, a story about a bird named Splat:

splat had a small, simple brain. she wandered the skies searching for an unknown answer to an unknown question.

I do take issue with this “small, simple brain” piece. All the latest science shows that birds are highly intelligent, even city birds such as crows. Maybe if the book goes to reprint they could address this.

Image from Plop & Splat

Splat eventually meets her soul mate, Plop, who turns out to be the answer to that unknown question. The answer, the author tells us, lies in each other’s hearts (awww). Together  Plop & Splat collaborate to make ‘splat-art’ with their poop.

I love this book for one simple reason: it challenges kids to see art anywhere and interpret it. It also has a wonderful collage feel where the pages are filled with photographic backgrounds, crafty birds made with mixed media, typed writing on ripped up paper, and scrapbook-like images from Kelley’s splat-art archive.

Kelley and Walega are onto something with this splat-art, and I’m glad proceeds from the sales benefits Art for Animals’ Sake.

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I Love You Just Enough

March 26th, 2014 · Books

9781585368396Review By HOMA WOODRUM

Though billed as the fifth book in the “Hazel Ridge Farm” series, I Love You Just Enough is a great standalone picture book. Written by a husband and wife team, Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen (words) and Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen (painted illustrations), tell the story of a young girl named Heather that finds a young wood duck on her last day of school before summer vacation and cares for it until it is able to return home. Heather’s father warns Heather that aside from the responsibility of caring for her new charge, “The hardest thing that you will have to do is not to love him too much.” He goes on to add: “Loving him will be the easy part. This duckling will only be with us for a short while. His true family should be with other ducks. Saying goodbye will be hard.”

Each painted page is beautiful and I loved being able to see the texture of the canvas come through. Heather gathers food for the duckling, Peet, and even starts him with swimming in the bathtub and later in the pond. Eventually Peet flies away and Heather remembers her father’s initial caution to love him just enough so that she can let him go. I think that though this book is set in a farm, since it is a real life one operated by former wildlife rehabilitators, I don’t feel like there’s anything beyond the farm being just the real setting of the story. In other words, there’s no agenda here regarding farms or farming that a veg family would likely be concerned about.

We really enjoyed this one and it reminded me a great deal of one of my favorite childhood books Moses the Kitten by James Heriott as it follows the finding and caring for a young animal in a calmly paced and beautiful way.

Ages 2 and up. Review copy received from Sleeping Bear Press.

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