This is yet another great educational book by Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan Dell) that is a treasure trove of information both in the text, afterwards in the “For Creative Minds” section, and in the additional online resources. In On the Move, Scotti Cohn, gives wonderful descriptions of the migration patterns of a variety of animals. From seaside horseshoe crabs to arctic caribou, she covers many types of habitats and even includes seasonal interactions of animals in such as the salmon and the eagle. The details she adds like, “a mother caribou snorts and shakes her head. She is telling her calf to stay close to her,” help the reader to imagine being that animal. Susan Detwiler’s illustrations in this book as well as Scotti Cohn’s other stories, One Wolf Howls, and Big Cat, Little Kitty, are both eye-catching and realistic. These are all terrific books that I would highly recommend to classroom teachers as well as to parents.
Suggested Ages – This book is suggested for ages 4-8, but would be a wonderful text for slightly older readers as well. They can delve into the details and extra information at the end of the story. The illustrations will appeal to younger readers along with the sweet details of each animal’s life.
Topics – farm, seasons
As we slip into late fall and leaves become more crunchy than colorful, I shift to a cozier mode. Sleep Tight Farm lovingly describes preparing a farm for this shift. In Eugenie Doyle’s first picture book, she writes about her farm in Vermont and the varied tasks of cutting the last stalks of Brussel sprouts, trimming back raspberry brambles and covering the fields with a blanket of oats and rye. There is a hopefulness in her story in its celebration of the resurgence expected in the spring of old stalks and new shoots that they have cared for and put to sleep for the winter. The sweet parallel between a child’s bedtime and a seasonal bedtime is drawn through the refrain of, “Goodnight, fields . .. Goodnight, chickens.” The specificity of the farm makes the story bright – from tatsoi leaves protected by sheets of white cloth to the planters and cultivators that find their winter home in the shed. Becca Stadtlander’s illustrations are iconically New England in their detail and classic coloring, both of which add to the feel of the story. Finally, I love the author’s note at the end about her exchange with a group of local students who follow the changes in the farm along with her.
Suggested Ages – The text is lyrical with a nice refrain that will attract early grad school readers. Students grades 3-5 will enjoy the details of what happens in the farm in the late fall and perhaps be interested in her work with local students on her farm.
Topics – squirrels, fall, seasons
Squirrels are all around us this year especially since it is a mast year and there are innumerable acorns! Squirrels’ charisma makes them fun to watch and learn about. April Pulley Sayre’s Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep captures the personalities of these fluffy friends through the seasons from caching acorns for the winter through the acorns sprouting in the spring. She sweetly ends with a squirrel curled up asleep in his nest – a quiet end that is a nice for a bedtime story. Steve Jenkins’ layout of the illustrations is fun with each action of the squirrel represented in a button-like circle with one of his wonderful collages as the centerpiece. The text is light and is full of rhythm, rhyme and repetition. Sayre includes an extensive section at the end of the book with descriptions of different species of squirrel, specifics on oak trees and other natural history followed by a list of suggested books and websites as well as related topics to explore. If you don’t know her other books, Sayre has many other wonderful ones that you can find on her website, and I always love Jenkins’ illustrations.
Suggested Ages – The text is rhythmic and rhyming, which will appeal to readers 3-5, and the repetition will help early readers to follow along. Older readers can delve into the additional information at the end.
Topics – leaves, fall, seasons
Summary – My love for picture books stems from my love of poetry, so I am a big fan of Laura Purdie Salas’s writing. A Leaf Can Be . . . is a beautifully illustrated poem that is whimsical and informative. The other titles, also illustrated by Violeta Dabija, A Rock Can Be . . . and Water Can Be . . . , are equally lovely and worth checking out. The text layers wonderful rhythm and crisp sounds over collage-like images, describing what leaves can be both to the little girl in the story and to the animals around her. Purdie Salas takes us through the seasons to explore how the leaves themselves as well as their roles change. She includes a helpful “More About Leaves” section at the end of the story with a sentence or two more fully describing each reason why leaves are important, and also a glossary of terms and list of other great leaf books.
Suggested Ages – The text is simple enough for pre-K readers who will enjoy the rhythm and rhyme. Older readers will learn about new and different functions of leaves than they might have landed upon before. They can also explore further by reading the material at the end of the story, both for content and vocabulary.
Topics – summer, fall, seasons
Summary – With a welcoming, “Hello, late summer morning,” Kenard Pak invites readers into an unfolding dialogue between the narrator child and the natural world around her. I loved how this drew me in, as I have to admit that I’m always quite sad when summer ends. The little girls’ first interaction is with the trees, which answer, “We love how our branches sway in the sun.” She then greets the foxes, who are gathering food, the beavers making dens, and the leaves changing colors. ends with the sun setting earlier on a summer night, and then awakening to say, “Hello, autumn!” as the sun rises on a new day. Like the leaves, the girls’ scarf changes color from red to blue in the final page turn. Pak’s accompanying illustrations are bright and simple, showing the small changes from one season to the next. This story, while less of a factual nature book than some others I’ve reviews, is an elegant poetic tribute to the seasons.
Suggested Ages – This story is most appropriate for young readers who can follow the illustrations as well as the repetition in the text. The repetition will be helpful to those learning to read, who can recognize familiar words from page to page.
Topics – seasons, outdoor play, poetry
Summary – If you’ve ever found seashells in your lint catcher, then Mary McKenna’s Bringing the Outside In will strike a chord of familiarity. In footprints, drips and collected treasures, McKenna describes outdoor exploration through the seasons which are always brought home for reflection. Patrice Barton’s joyful illustrations lend a kind of carefree flavor to McKenna’s poetic phrases. I particularly enjoyed the laundry room scene of kids in their skivvies hanging dripping swimsuits with the dog shaking its wet fur in the midst. I also love the final scenes of the kids sharing memories by the fire and then later pulling out pictures from their adventures to remember their past adventures together. McKenna’s simple poetry captures both the camaraderie found in natural exploration as well as the treasures to be found there.
Suggested Ages – This book is suitable for preschool-aged children and up. All young readers will relate to the fun to be had in each season and also the friendships to be found in the outdoors.