Children's Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Butterflies and Winners!

Good Day! Yesterday I promised I'd give you more Sylvan Dell book reviews. The other night it was exceedingly windy here in Taos, but I'd been writing at my computer most of the day, so I went out for a walk anyway! Walking along against the wind, not even the neighbor's dogs who are always out walking, were to be seen. Then I looked down and there was the most perfect butterfly on the road. It was stunningly beautiful, yellow with an iridescence blue spot on its tail. It must have just died, I hope with old age and not by the wind. It was amazing that the wind hadn't roughed it up in any way. I have carefully saved it to show, when school starts again, the little children in the preschool where I help out. It reminds me of the creatures the Sylvan Dell authors and illustrators write about.
On a fun note I've been avidly following the World Cup Soccer Finals. England has made it into the quarter finals! I lived in England for 12 years, and my son lives there now, so we are cheering England all the way! Enjoy your day and enjoy your 4th July celebrations!

Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean
Did you know that sea otters sleep with kelp strands around their tummies to anchor themselves from drifting away? You'll find out about how sea otters and other sea mammals sleep in this sweet, gentle book which describes how different groups of sea mammals sleep in the ocean. In this story a little boy copies the mammals' sleep stances in just the way young children like to act out what they see and imagine.
The dynamic illustrations by Connie McLennan are a perfect mirror to the informative, well-researched, yet flowing narrative by Gail Langer Karwoski. Parents, teachers, and children will not only make this a nap and bed-time story, but will also enjoy the extra facts and activities at the end. In a classroom a unit could be extrapolated from this book which could include art, movement, drama, science, and literacy. This book is highly recommended for young readers, ages 3-8.

How the Moon Regained Her Shape
This illuminating book is cast in a folktale format as it tells the tale of the phases of the moon. Moon is happy until the Sun intimidates her. She shrinks until she is nearly faded away. How will she recover her former self? This book tells how in a way that is at once a story we can relate to in our dealings with others and informative in explaining the waxing and waning of the moon.
Author Janet Ruth Heller tells the story very well. The collage illustrations, done in a Sountwestern style create a good partnership with the text. Ben Hodson uses soft, low tone pastel colors to depict the seeming fragility of the moon. The information and activities at the back are a treasure trove for a seven or eight year old creating a report on the moon. This book is a welcome addition to any home or classroom library.

Loon Chase
Will the baby loon chicks be safe from Miles the pet spaniel whose nature it is to swim after water birds? A young boy and his mother paddle their canoe hard across the lake to see if they or Miles will reach the chicks first. Who will?
This dramatic story introduces young readers to loons, a water bird found in North America. The pastel paintings by Kathryn Freeman have a luscious quality with many perspectives, which well illustrate the text by Jean Heilprin Diehl. Ms. Diehl shows the reader the characteristics of the dog and birds as well as of caring humans. The information and activities at the end are a must at home and in the classroom. This book is highly recommended for children ages 4 – 8,

Pieces of Another World
Jody wonders why her daddy is waking her up in the middle of the night to go out with him. He only says, "I’ve got a sight for you to see." And, he smiles mysteriously. They drive to an empty field so quiet that they can see and hear the night animals. As they look up into the sky they see a meteor shower, pieces from another world!
The story is intimate, a never to be forgotten moment in a child’s life. Yet, it is also informative so that young readers can understand the nature of our sky and its meteors. Watercolor illustrations by Salima Alikhan add to the loveliness of the nighttime setting with a deep richness. Included with all the other information and activities in the back is a yummy recipe for Comet Cookies. This book is well done by author Mara Rockliff and is a must for young readers 3 – 8 years old, as well as for their parents and teachers.


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