Children's Book Reviews

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cool Summer Reading!

It's hot here in Taos. We are in the middle of the Southwest heat wave with not a sign yet of our usual monsoons. So it was an extra pleasure to be able to review two of Sylvan-Dell's latest books about the ocean, and receiving the impression of coolness. Yet, I can't complain as my adobe house stays cool inside! Hooray for natural building materials!
As always I'm having fun revi
ewing the books for Sylvan, and hope you can read them for your summer reading fun too.

In My Backyard

Children will have fun reading this book, probably not even realizing that at the same time they are learning about the animals they can see close by their homes. They will also have fun counting the baby animals. In My Backyard presents ten different animals in their backyard habitat. Author Valerie Giogas uses rhyming and some alliteration in her pleasurable and informative text.

Katherine Z
ecca’s illustrations entrance the eye not only with lifelike renderings of the animals up close, but also with their habitats. For instance the squirrels are snuggled in their tree trunk nest or the moles move about in their burrows. The activities in the book will keep a child or classroom busy and happy while learning. One engrossing thing a child or preschool class can do is look for the “signs” that animals leave to show they are around. What a treasure hunt that will be! Recommended for children two years through seven years.

A Day in the Salt Marsh

Why are salt marshes important? This question is posed on one of the activity pages. This beautiful books answers just that query. A salt marsh can stretch for miles with a seeming simplicity, yet this book points to the teeming symbiotic salt marsh life nearly hidden out of sight. A Day in the Salt Marsh takes the young reader hour by hour through the day, watching the changes as the tide goes in and out.

Author Kevin Kurtz has compiled a vast array, in rhyme, of fascinating information about life in the salt marsh. Illustrator Consie Powell perfectly matches the text with her triads of illustrations of every foldout page.
Each one shows a different aspect of the highlighted animal or plant, such as the dolphin close up, dolphins breaking water in the distance, and the above and below water life nearby! Each section of illustration flows into the other. The book will create in young readers who live inland from coasts and the Gulf a desire to visit them someday. In the meantime, a great unit can be formed with just the information presented here. A fascinating read for children 3 – 7.

Burro’s Tortillas

If children like the nursery tale “Little Red Hen,” they will love Terri Field’s Spanish version in Burro’s Tortillas! This humorous tale of a burro who works hard to pick his corn and takes it through the process until the corn kernels becomes delicious tortillas. Yet, his friends bobcat, coyote, and jackrabbit aren’t interested in helping with the hard work until it comes time to eat the tortillas! The book introduces Spanish words like “tortilla”, “metate”, “yo no”, and “mis amigos”. What a delightful way to learn aspects of another culture and language. In addition, there is a recipe for tortillas in the activity section.

Sherry Rogers’ entertaining illustrations are back with Sylvan Dell in this welcomed book. Children will eagerly spot baby burro in each spread, though he is not mentioned in the text. A preschool or early elementary class will have fun with a corn-growing unit, ending with the making of tortillas. A delightful, must have book for home and school libraries.

Ocean Seasons

Accurately sweet illustrations and edifying text pull the reader into Ocean Seasons. The book travels through the seasons in the ocean, particularly the northern Pacific ocean. It highlights animals, their habits, habitats, and their particular place in the food chain. As an example larger fish dine on smaller fish that dine on shiny plankton.

There is a lyricism in author Ron Hirschi’s prose, while Kirsten Carlson’s
illustrations have a soft movement to match. Children will enjoying copying and playing with the food cards in the activity section while parents and teachers can lead children into deeper study with the mini-encyclopedic pages to follow. This book is highly recommended for children 3 – 7.


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