There’s a Bug on My Book!

Written and Illustrated by John Himmelman

So much to learn and see just from the immediate world around us. Just going outside and sitting still yields a wealth of information. A beetle might land on your book before it decides to fly away. A snake might slither across on its way to who knows where. A grasshopper lands and takes off. A spider might need to be encouraged to slide off the page. A slug might eventually find its way back off the page. Pillbugs are fun to watch roll into balls. They will also need to be slid off the book. A tree frog would probably hold onto an upside down book. Ants will also need to help to leave and to avoid the frog. The snake comes back for a frog snack.

Action packed illustrations add to the fun with apparently crumpled pages and slug slime trails.

In the Explore More sections, kids will learn more about all the creatures they’ve just seen.  Parents and teachers will learn more about how to help kids use this book.

Many activities will grow out of this book. In fact, the book itself is an activity.

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  • Theres a Bug on My BookTitle: Patrick and the President         
  • Author/Illustrator: John Himmelman
  • Published: Dawn Publications, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Nature, Nonfiction
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-588-2
  • Extras: Explore More for Kids and for Parents and Teachers

Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of

Written and Illustrated by Martin Brown

 Delightful drawings of lesser known animals like the black-footed ferret, the hirola, and the sand cat make this entertaining book a true delight. Besides the great expressions and thoughtful speech bubbles, the narration in this book is conversational rather than a list of data. Although each double-paged spread has a data box insert for the always necessary information about size, diet, habitat.

Librarians, teachers and parents ought to read this book aloud, “Shhh! Stay still. You’re in the Jungle. The eerie, steaming, inky-black of an Indonesian jungle at night.” What a totally enchanting way to introduce a “stealthy stalker of Southeast Asian treetops “, the Banded Linsang.  This is one science book that will have your audience spell-bound part of the time and giggling the rest.

Curriculum standards will be met in science, geography, literature while the art teacher could have a blast working with these animals.

Full color pages and cartoon-like maps involve the reader in every page. With just the right amount of text, white space and various sized illustration, it is spot on for the intended audience.  Every elementary and public library NEEDS a copy of this volume.

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  • Lesser AnimalsTitle:  Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of
  • Author/Illustrator:  Martin Brown
  • Publisher:  Scholastic, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 66 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-338-08934-9
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Grade level: 2 to 5
  • Extras: Glossary

Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians!

Written by Jason Carter Eaton
Illustrated by Mark Fearing

If you don’t clean your room, there’s a good chance you will get some kind of infestation but what if that infestation involves barbarians? Seems pretty extreme, huh?  And what do you have to do to get rid of them?

The main character in this raucously fun book is not bothered by the ants or flies or mice his sloppiness bring, but when Vlad the Barbarian shows up, it’s a different story. Vlad brings with him Törr and a bunch of other guys in horned helmets. And they eat all the cheese curls. They snore and belch and snarl, too. They use Mom’s makeup for war paint. The only answer is to take away their fun. Be careful not to cause any more havoc. Something else may show up.

The expressions of the rest of the family, including the cat, are priceless, as are the details of the mess the boy and his barbarians create.

Second graders may be able to read this independently, though much younger kids will get a kick out the humor.

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  • Title: The Tree: Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians!
  • Author: Jason Carter Eaton
  • Illustrator: Mark Fearing
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture book, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6827-3

Prince Ribbit

Written by Jonathan Emmett
Illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Full of twists and turns, this cute new fairy tale pulls in elements from the classic frog prince without copying. When two of three princesses embrace the original frog prince story as fact, the third princess tries to convince them that you can’t believe everything you read. Instead, they adopt a talking frog and try to kiss and pamper him into princehood. He lives a life of luxury but remains a frog. A surprise ending should delight any reader.

The illustrator deftly complements the text with a sassy curly-headed redhead, clever and expressive frog and dog, a lush backgrounds, and a cast of other characters.

Parents and teachers will want to read this aloud and talk about all the other ways this story and the original one could end. Kids could learn a lot about literature and about ways in which we gather facts. This book is sure to become a bedtime favorite.

 

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  • Title: Prince Ribbit
  • Author: Jonathan Emmett
  • Illustrator: Poly Bernatene
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture book, Fantasy, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-761-8

Our Very Own Dog

Written by Amanda McCardie
Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

This semi-instructional picture book follows the story of a lively addition to a loving family. Sophie, the Jack Russell terrier, was adopted from a shelter by the narrator’s family. She made friends with some family members and readily accepted her new toys and collar. It took a little longer for her to warm to Dad, but food was a powerful incentive. She learned several commands and made some doggie friends. She enjoyed playing and also getting into trouble. Sophie was a dog to be proud of.

Rubbino’s detailed illustrations show exactly how to treat and train your dog. They are often humorous, with everyone getting a belly rub or Sophie trying to figure out why the daughter is in the bathtub.

Along with the heartwarming story, numerous sidebars give tips on caring for a new dog. That makes this the perfect read aloud so kids and adults can discuss the reasons for advice such as “Most dogs like to be petted by their owners, but many don’t like to be touched by strangers. Always ask the owner before you touch a dog.” Kids may want to keep referring back to the text as their own dog settles in.

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  • Title: Our Very Own Dog       
  • Author: Amanda McCardie
  • Illustrator: Salvatore Rubbino
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture book, Animals, Adoption
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8948-3
  • Extras: A Few Useful Books About Dogs

The Princess and the Frogs

Written by Veronica Bartles
Illustrated by Sara Palacios

In her premier picture book, Bartles presents a delightful twist on the princess-kisses-a-frog fairy tale. Princess Cassandra is as pampered as a princess can be. She has hundreds of dresses and thousands of books, but she has no pet to match her favorite dress. The Royal Pet Keeper sets out to find her the perfect pet. He searches high and low until he happens upon the perfect green frog. Cassandra is elated. She and the frog jump and play all day. When she kisses the frog good night, he turns into a prince. Unacceptable. She has the same result with frog after frog until the palace is overrun with princes. Cassandra finds one prince who only wanted to be a frog. Perfect. One more kiss turns him back to a frog.

Charming illustrations enhance and expand the story as written. Frogs slide down bannisters with Cassandra, share sodas with her, and jump rope. Princes slide down bannisters, hang from chandeliers, and use dresses for kite tails.

This is most fun as a read aloud so kids can guess about the next parts of the story. It’s fun looking for what makes each frog and each prince unique.

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  • the-princess-and-the-frogsTitle: The Princess and the Frogs                         
  • Author: Veronica Bartles
  • Illustrator: Sara Palacios
  • Published: Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins Publishers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Fairy Tale
  • ISBN: 978-0-06-236591-0

Gary

Written and Illustrated by Leila Rudge

Gary is a pigeon. A racing pigeon who doesn’t fly. When the other pigeons go out to race, he sits at home and waits for the others to return. And dreams of all the places he could have gone. He has a scrapbook of their mementos and stories. Accidentally, he goes out with the flock one day. Since he can’t fly, he’s left to figure out how to return home by other means. When he steps off the bus and tells the others of his adventures, they see the wisdom of solution and start using alternate transportation themselves.

The beautiful and detailed illustrations complement the story perfectly. Gary has things in his scrapbook that help him find his way in the world: what appears to be a subway map, a street map, drawings of various modes of transportation so he can recognize them. The pigeons wear jerseys. A few wear backwards baseball cap or stocking caps.

As a read aloud or independent reading for second graders, this book offers a jumping off place for learning about venturing out into the world. Kids will have fun spotting all the details in the illustrations and figuring out how Gary gets home. Heartwarming and funny at the same time.

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  • garyTitle: Gary                                                            
  • Author/Illustrator: Leila Rudge
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture book
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8954-4

 

 

Pizza at Sally’s

Written by Monica Wellington

Definitely worth another look, this book from ten years ago still has a fresh approach to learning about where the food we eat comes from. Sally grows tomatoes, destined for the pizza, in her garden. Wheat comes from the farm, helped along by the farmer and his equipment. Cheese, from the shop next door, is made from milk. When Sally opens her shop, she takes the orders and assembles the finished pizza for take-out and eating in. She begins by mixing and working the pizza dough. Sauce, cheese, and added ingredients follow.  

As an illustrator, Wellington includes all sorts of information, such as many of the things other than cheese that come from milk. This is a helpful, simple, and subtle message that promotes comprehension and literacy skills. Each step of the process is deftly shown, complete with many details. Through it all, Sally’s cat assists her. Kids can look for details such as the names of the ingredients, the names on the order pad (which partially match the book dedication), different vehicles, Italian words and their translations, etc.

A fun book about a favorite food. 

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  • pizza-at-sallysTitle: Pizza at Sally’s
  • Author: Monica Wellington
  • Published: Dutton Children’s Books/Penguin, 2006
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Picture book, Food, Cooking
  • ISBN: 978-0-525-47715-0
  • Extras: Pizza recipe

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

Written and Illustrated by Lisa Papp

Sometimes, all you need is a calming presence.

Madeline hates to read. She especially hates to read out loud in her class. She gets “Keep Trying” stickers, but she really wants a gold star. When she visits the library and talks to her favorite librarian, Madeline mentions her reluctance to read. The librarian suggests reading to one of the visiting dogs. Bonnie, the dog, is a patient listener and never giggles at her mistakes. Madeline becomes very attached to Bonnie and is very concerned when Bonnie fails to show up once. But, by that time, Madeline has enough confidence to read well in class and get her star. Madeline feels she must share her star with Bonnie – and her new puppies.

Beautiful and detailed illustrations accompany this heartwarming story about fears and how we can overcome them. The room with all the different dogs and kids with books is especially cute.

This makes a wonderful read aloud for first graders and a comforting independent read for second grade and up. Either way, a discussion in the difficulties of learning to read – or anything challenging – would also be in order. Reading activities may include investigating libraries and caring for dogs.

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  •  madeline-finnTitle: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog
  • Author/Illustrator: Lisa Papp
  • Published: Peachtree Publishing, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Reading, Fears, Animals
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-910-0

 

 

Over in the Grasslands: On an African Savanna

Written by Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Jill Dubin

The latest installment of the Marianne Berkes series has a lot going on. It is a counting book, reinforced by both the numbers of baby animals and the lineup of African gourd rattles. It is poetry, set to the rhythm of the traditional song “Over in the Meadow.” It is for learning about the African savanna and the animals that inhabit that area. It is hunting for nearly hidden animals in the pictures. It teaches about the song itself and about the techniques used by the illustrator.

Over in the grasslands
Where the acacia trees grew
Lived a tall mother giraffe
And her little calves two.

Altogether, first or second graders get to learn about twenty animals. Some of them may seem familiar from the zoo, – zebra, giraffe, elephant – but many are probably animals the readers have never seen – redbilled oxpeckers, naked mole rats, leopard tortoises. And none of them live your backyard. In the last pages, Berkes writes about the many themes used, including the ten different adjectives and the different baby names used. She also mentions many places to learn more, and she was careful to expalin that the numbers of babies each animal can have is fictional. Dubin writes about her collage technique, how important the different papers are, and what inspired the details.

A great addition to the counting library.

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  • over-in-the-grasslandsTitle: Over in the Grasslands: On an African Savanna
  • Author: Marianne Berkes
  • Illustrator: Jill Dubin
  • Publisher: Dawn Publishers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Nature, Geography, Counting, Poetry, Music
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-568-4
  • Extras: Fact or Fiction?, Life on the African Savanna, Who Are the “Hidden” Animals in the Grasslands?, About the Animals, Tips from the Author, Tips from the Illustrator, Over in the Grasslands [music]
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