Ten Animals in Antarctica

April 27th, 2021 · Books

In blues, browns, and greys, punctuated with the occasional bright red, TEN ANIMALS IN ANTARCTICA by Moira Court turns a simple counting book into a world of cold, windy, seemingly barren discovery. The descriptive list that brings up animals like leopard seals, orcas, krill, and even snow petrels with a depth of adjectives for the animals as well as the landscape. Children will love noticing the spots on the seals, the many legs and appendages of the krill, and the jagged teeth on the blackfin icefish. (Hint: They don’t all have the same amount of teeth, so it’s a counting bonus!)

The illustrations are collages of all different sizes, and Court’s ability to help the animals express anthropomorphic emotions which will appeal to the target audience of 2-5 year olds. Highly Recommended.


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Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate

April 24th, 2021 · Books

SUMMERTIME SLEEPERS: Animals that Estivate by Melissa Stewart will introduce readers to animals that sleep all throughout the summer. Including butterflies, crabs, fish, snails, and even a hedgehog, the variety of animals that choose to chill out during the hot summer months is varied and surprising. Did YOU know that ladybugs estivated? Well, now you do!  

Aimed at early elementary, the picture book provides layered information about whether animals estivate solo or in groups, where they are found, how they find their sleeping spaces, and why they sleep during the hotter, dryer months. Some standout details include the Leopard Gecko’s ability to get energy from fat stored in its tail and the Pixie Frog’s habit of eating its homemade cocoon for some immediate energy. 

The Illustrations are mainly in muted colors, appropriate for estivating, and they are split into two parts. In full color, illustrator Sarah S. Brannen shows readers the animals in their chosen estivation location. The ladybugs are shown clustered within a cluster of leaves, and the killifish leave then water to hide together inside a damp log. Also included for each animal is a black and white drawing that shows details as well as life-size depictions of the smaller animals. The full name, scientific name, size, and common location is also included. 

More detail about the animals and both the author’s and illustrator’s notes are included at the end of Summertime Sleepers, as well as some additional sources for intrepid readers. This is the perfect book for the start to warmer weather! 

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We Are Still Here!

April 18th, 2021 · Books

This non-fiction picture book, WE ARE STILL HERE!, is subtitled Native American Truths Everyone Should Know, and the book makes sure the reader knows them by the end. Written by Traci Sorell in the structure of elementary student presentations, the book educates us on topics often glossed over in elementary school and beyond. Each section concludes with the refrain, “We Are Still Here!” reminding us that this history is still very much alive and unfolding.

From the first page, unfair policies and broken treaties are introduced and discussed. Each topic is written clearly and with the late elementary reader in mind. Policies like Assimilation, Allotment, Relocation precede the later sections of Tribal Activism, Self-Determination, and the fight for Religious Freedom. The end result ensures that children will feel hopeful and empowered to share what they have learned.

The illustrations by Frané Lessac compliment the text by adding not just visualization but meaning. The facing pages focused on Termination, for example, include text that discuss betrayal of treaties by the US Government, and the illustration contrasts Menominee Nation land for sale, and presumed purchasers fishing from a rowboat, as members of the Menominee hold signs demanding justice. The page about Language Revival shows a classroom of children learning their native languages, and the Cherokee Syllabary, along with Sequoyah, its inventor, on the board.

The details within the pages are supplemented by additional information on the 12 topics, including a timeline and glossary. A caregiver unfamiliar with the topics will appreciate reading the end pages in the book prior to sharing it with a child; there are sure to be questions.

We Are Still Here! is highly recommended.

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We Laugh Alike, Juntos Nos Reímos

April 12th, 2021 · Books

WE LAUGH ALIKE JUNTOS NOS REÍMOS by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand is a joyful, bilingual romp in a playground with two trios of kids who speak different languages: English and Spanish. The cheerful picture book reminds us that children (and their caregivers!) are more similar to their peers than not. A good lesson for us all.

Playground activities like jumping rope and playing on a merry-go-round help bring the two groups together to play and learn each others’ languages. The pages are set-up to be read as responses and reflections in English and Spanish. In most cases, the lines are repeated in translation so families and classes can learn some new words, as the children in the story do. Once the playtime ice has broken, the language barrier dissolves as well.

Every color possible seems to be used within the pages of this book. The vibrant illustrations by Alyssa Bermudez depict a range of character backgrounds and personalities, and the faces of the children portray clear and varied emotions throughout.  Curiosity and wonder, playfulness, and an openness to differences are conveyed in the bright, expectant characters.

We Laugh Alike Juntos Nos Reímos will both entertain, inspire, and instruct its early elementary readers.

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