Even More Lesser Spotted Animals

July 10th, 2019 · Books

There is nothing “lesser” about the animals highlighted in Martin Brown’s clever and deeply funny follow-up to Lesser Spotted Animals. With the same awkward, caught-unawares images of lesser known animals and with just as much high interest information as the first book, EVEN MORE LESSER SPOTTED ANIMALS is a must-have for kids of all ages. As the subtitle says, this beautiful mini-encyclopedia features “brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know about” on every page.

The humor is accessible to young and old, and the animals depicted show attitude and grudging appreciation for being officially featured – even on the front cover! Whether children read one or two pages or the entire book through, they’ll want to go back again and again to check out the details and very funny highlighted skills. On the page featuring different sengi, for example, there is an pull out section that included the “nose-picking sengi.” And the ribbon seal’s sliding walk has a descriptive and funny illustration that makes sure readers understand the “sliding walk” is on its belly, not on its back flippers. The Blainville’s beaked whale describes itself as “beaky and freaky.” Older children will especially appreciate the details about the gray slender loris, whose stink rivals a middle school locker room.

Martin Brown’s deep research into these animals comes through on every page. The easy feel of the jokes and clever mini-conversations between animals. Even the glossary includes fun images and descriptions.

Highly recommended. Seriously. Watch this preview of Even More Lesser Spotted Animals while you wait for its July 30th release date!

Review by Kristin Wald

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Future Astronaut

June 25th, 2019 · Books

A new board book in the Future Baby series is out today! FUTURE ASTRONAUT is adorable and informative and it even includes a lesson in languages. The big-headed babies in the book are compared to astronauts as they go to the doctor, eat their meals, and float in space. Suggested for infants through three-years-old, the book is a perfect way for children to imagine themselves traveling in a rocket ship, or just having an adventure.

The simple text and consistent comparison style in Lori Alexander’s story ensures that young readers will understand both what the astronauts are doing and how their own daily routines relate. Allison Black’s illustrations are joyful and colorful, and the faces share clear emotions that children will be able to identify and emulate. Together, the text and imagery create a wonderful book that will be read again and again.

The end of Future Astronaut has “fun facts” also chosen to relate to a young child’s day. Did you know that crackers and bread aren’t allowed in space because crumbs float into astronauts’ eyes and noses? No crackers?!

Highly recommended for ages 0-3 years.

Review by Kristin Wald



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The Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean

June 8th, 2019 · Books

There is a new Pout-Pout fish story out, and it’s timely and relevant, and we love it! THE POUT-POUT FISH CLEANS UP THE OCEAN by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna brings back Mr. Fish and his friends who live happily in the beautiful ocean. Suddenly, Mr. Fish notices that there is “A big…BIG…MESS!” in the ocean, and he doesn’t know what it is. He swims around and shares his concerns with his friends, always asking if they’d like to join him to figure out what it is and to solve the problem. Together, the ocean creatures come to a disturbing root cause of the mess and decide to go about fixing the damage.

The text emphasizes persistence and teamwork in tackling the problem of plastic and garbage pollution in the ocean. And after observing and analyzing the mess, the characters conclude that the problem is themselves. More specifically the bad and careless habits they (and we!) have of a single-use and throwaway society. To emphasize the idealist ocean world of Mr. Fish, the creatures all take responsibility for their actions and work together to not just clean up the mess they had caused, but they also decide to develop new habits for travel, use of plastic, and putting trash where it belongs. The issue is a “big…BIG…MESS,” but the story makes sure to demonstrate that change can start with individuals working together.

Despite the enormity of the problems in the story, it never feels overwhelming or hopeless for readers. The colorful and playful illustrations allow for children of all ages to discover and enjoy the characters and surroundings. Older children and adults will appreciate the not-so-subtle commentary on the items that contribute to the mess in the ocean. A box with “plastic junk-oids” printed on its side and the irony of a balloon that reads “Happy Earth Day” will drive the point home. The book ends with a note from the creators of the series making suggestions for actions readers can take to join the Pout-Pout Fish in his quest to clean up the ocean.

Highly recommended.

Review by Kristin Wald


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The Biggest Little Farm: Saving Emma the Pig

June 6th, 2019 · Books

The story of SAVING EMMA THE PIG is the first in a new picture book series based on John Chester’s short films about The Biggest Little Farm. Now a children’s book author, Chester is an Emmy Winning documentary filmmaker and farmer. This first story sets a gentle and loving tone that shows both the circle of nature and how humans don’t have all the solutions for the animal world.

The story opens when Emma the Pig arrives to the farm just as she is about to have a litter of piglets. She is very skinny and not well, and when her SEVENTEEN piglets arrive Emma stops producing milk. To give her a break, the farmers bring the piglets into their home to care for them and tend to Emma in the barn. She gets better, but won’t eat…not even her favorite treat of apples. It’s only when the piglets are brought back to Emma that she starts to eat…A LOT.

The story continues with Emma nurturing her piglets, becoming lonely when they are moved to a pasture to graze and roam, and finally finding a new rooster friend. The emphasis is on the animals throughout the picture book, in fact the farmers are never shown. Jennifer Meyer’s illustrations are gorgeous and lush. The images are able to convey sadness and worry in some instances and humor and joy in others. Greasy the rooster is especially expressive.

The end of the book has a brief history of the farm as well as a photo of the author and Emma accompanying an epilogue that updates readers on Emma. Families may want to also check out the short film on which the book is based. One caveat: Caregivers should watch the clip first because the book glosses over a detail or two that may be upsetting or confusing to children.

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