Butterfly Battle & Food Chain Frenzy (The Magic School Bus Chapter Books #16 & #17)

April 30th, 2015 · Books

Review By JENNIFER KALI

I’ve expressed my love for all things Magic School Bus previously. My almost six-year-old daughter and I are having a great time working our way through our library’s collection of Magic School Bus chapter books. The two we read most recently were great finds for kids interested in animal welfare.

MSB Butterfly Battle

In Butterfly Battle, the students and their teacher Ms. Frizzle go on a field trip to a butterfly exhibit at the local botanical garden. As would be expected, the kids get turned into butterflies. They have a harrowing adventure flying through the city, dodging birds while trying to find something to eat in the concrete jungle. When they are very hungry they come across a garden, but realize just in time that it was treated by pesticides. They continue on, exhausted and weak, until they finally come across a wildflower sanctuary and finally can eat.

There is a section at the end of the book explaining the importance of planting butterfly gardens in our own backyards and gave some how-to information doing so. Of course, this is exactly what my daughter wanted to do. Being the dutiful animal-loving parents that we are, we went to the local nursery and spent way too much money on butterfly-friendly plants for our backyard. I recommend this book to all animal-loving kids with the caveat that it may end with you spending a lot of money and having to plant a garden. I am happy to report that we have seen butterflies visiting our butterfly garden already this spring.

MSB Food Chain Frenzy coverIn Food Chain Frenzy, on the way to a local museum to learn about the food chain, Ms. Frizzle decides the best way to learn about the food chain is to experience it yourself. The Magic School Bus transforms into a ladybug, a snake, a fish, a krill, all the while learning about how animals get energy either by eating plants or by eating animals that eat plants.

There are a lot of great asides in this book that would appeal to vegetarian families. I really appreciated that when talking about humans, it said that humans are omnivores though some humans choose to be vegetarians and get their energy solely from plans. In other contexts, when my daughter hears humans described as omnivores, she’ll always say, “Some humans are herbivores.” It was nice for this book to include that here. There are some great student report throughout the text that address the damaging effects of the human diet, such as a report on overfishing and how damaging it is to other ecosystems. My favorite student report is about how humans control their own food chains by farming animals themselves and how devastating this is on the environment. This was a great book that continued to surprise me throughout. I would highly recommend this book to any vegetarian child.

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Rhymoceros

March 28th, 2015 · Books

9781419715143_Rhymoceros_CVReview By JESSICA ALMY

Another board book to share! Following up on the 2012 smash hit Hippopposites, Janik Coat is back with another visually driven, humorous book that parents are sure to like as much as their toddlers do.

Our protagonist this time around is, as the title suggests, a rhinoceros. Juxtaposing a single word on each page, Coat plays with rhyme and design to create surprising contrasts. For example, on one page, the titular rhinoceros is being “caring” by walking a dog on a leash. On the facing page, she (he?) is “daring,” walking along a tightrope between two skyscrapers with the dog perched calmly on her head.

Unfortunately, the anti-captivity theme of Coat’s previous book does not reappear in this book, but still, there is a subtle message of kindness to animals. The little dog, who appears about halfway through the book, reappears again on the last page. After the rhinoceros is depicted as being “sad,” she is joined by her canine companion, at which time her mood turns to “glad.”

I highly recommend this darling book for newborns through age 3.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

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I Love You, Blankie

March 26th, 2015 · Books

Review By JESSICA ALMY

This cute board book uses sing-songy verse to tell a classic bedtime story. A toddler and his (her?) blanket go on an adventure along the water and up into the sky, only to settle into bed and fall peacefully asleep.

I-Love-You-Blankie

I like that this book’s dreamy quality captures the versatility that so many young children find in a beloved blanket. A blanket can be a cape, a sail, or a balloon. But at the end of the day, it’s also a source of comfort–to “snuggle,” and “hug and cuddle, too.”

Babies and toddlers will like this book’s soft padded cover. I recommend this book for newborn through 18 months.

The publisher sent me a review copy of this book.

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Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby

March 24th, 2015 · Books

LullabyKissesSweet-smReview By JESSICA ALMY

My kiddo’s baby days have long since passed us by, but I love this collection of short read-aloud poems for babies! Nonhuman animals attired in bibs, shorts, and even eyeglasses are the focus of the illustrations, but they’re not the narrators. Instead, all the poems are told from baby’s point of view.

Divided into five sections–family, food, firsts, play, and bedtime–this board book is in fact an anthology of poems. They each stand on their own, but their collective brevity and warmth makes the book an easy read in a single sitting.

Parents of vegetarian and vegan babies will find much to like in this book, particularly in the “food” section, which celebrates rice cereal, apples, oranges, watermelon, and spaghetti. There are so many delicious foods for older babies to enjoy!

The only potentially problematic food the book depicts is “milk.” Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that no children should drink cow’s milk before 12 months of age, I would expect that the baby’s milk is either breastmilk or formula. Still, the illustration seems to suggest otherwise. Perhaps the baby depicted is already 1 and the “milk” is soymilk the whole family enjoys? I’ll leave it to you to decide.

9781419710377_LullabyandKissesSweet_TX2

 

All in all, Lullaby & Kisses Sweet is a delightful book that babies and their caregivers are likely to enjoy. I recommend this book for ages birth to 18 months.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

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