Archive for March 20, 2015

Toad Weather

Written by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Ally thinks because it is raining there is nothing to do. Wrong!  An outdoor adventure with her mother and grandmother helps her discover a whole new world. A colorful world swirling with the colors of umbrellas reflected in sidewalk puddles unfolds before her as well as the twisted rainbows caused by oil drops on city streets.

She discovers worms who love rainy days because their skin needs to stay wet all the time.

This isn’t just any story to entertain readers about a rainy day it is based in researched science. This book will fulfill the core curriculum standards in natural science, environmental science, climate changes and even migration.

When they find the traffic stopped and investigate further they see toads, toads and more toads in a mob trying to cross the highway. The police have a detour set up and people are even picking up the toads and carrying them across safely.

Sandra Markle does a great job of including all the senses that children use to learn about their surroundings, well, not taste this time. But the sound of rain pounding on buildings and umbrellas, as well as the sight, is important for children to notice.

The illustrations of Thomas Gonzalez mimic the colors and textures of a rainy day. It is amazing how the puddles on the front cover give the 3-D impression that once you touch the cover, your fingers will be wet. And the toad looks like you can reach out and pick it up.

This is a great book for teachers, librarians, and parents to use for teaching science skills as well as explaining how many things there are to enjoy on a rainy day. It is so much fun there is no way kids will only want to hear it read over and over again on only rainy days.

Second grade and third grade readers will be able to read and enjoy this book on their own.

Buy on Amazon

  • Toad WeatherTitle: Toad Weather
  • Author: Sandra Markle
  • Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez
  • Publisher: Peachtree, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-56145-818-9
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Weather, Climate, Toads, Migration
  • Grade level: 1 to 4
  • Extras: The author’s note at the end of the book explains a real toad migration that happens each spring near Philadelphia, PA.

P. Zonka Lays An Egg

Written and Illustrated by Julie Paschkis

P. Zonka would rather spend her day “staring at flowers and gawking at clouds” instead of laying eggs. This irritates the other chickens to no end. Why won’t she lay an egg? What’s the matter with her? P. Zonka wonders the opposite. How can they think about laying eggs when there is such beauty all around?

…the soft dark moss, the stripes on the crocuses, the orange cat with one blue eye, the shining center of a dandelion, the sky at midnight.

The hens (Nadine, Dora, and Maud, plus Gloria, a misnamed rooster) continue to goad P. Zonka. They call her lazy and urge her to try. Finally, she gives in and attempts to lay an egg. It isn’t easy, but when she finally does, she produces a spectacular egg as original and unique and colorful as P. Zonka, herself. Daydreamers rejoice!

Good things come to those who wait – a great message for young readers. Second graders will also benefit from the themes of individuality and artistry. Paschkis’ watercolor drawings are a feast for the eyes, and her endnote reveals the secret behind P. Zonka’s unusual name: a pysanka is a Ukrainian decorated egg made with patterns of beeswax and layers of dye. Recommended as a classroom read-aloud or library selection.

Buy on Amazon

  • P. ZonkaTitle: P. Zonka Lays An Egg
  • Author/Illustrator: Julie Paschkis
  • Publisher: Peachtree, 2015
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-819-6
  • Genre: Picture Book, Fiction, Allegory


No Monkeys, No Chocolate

Written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young
Illustrated by Nicole Wang

Natural processes never exist in isolation from all the other natural forces around them. In this fun and interesting nonfiction picture book, the authors take an inventive approach to pointing out why this is true. If it weren’t for monkeys, we wouldn’t have chocolate bars. Actually, if it weren’t for midges, maggots, lizards, and fungus, we wouldn’t have chocolate either. The story of cocoa production is slowly worked through from the beans to the pods to the roots to the monkeys that help plant new seeds. The tiny bookworms in the corner of each two-page spread add the touch of humor that will ensure holding the attention of kids. The illustrations are realistic and colorful.

This is a perfect beginning reference for second graders learning about nature and science. It will hopefully promote further study. The reading level will be a bit challenging but should enhance literacy skills and comprehension. The suggestions for what kids can do next includes many easy tips.

Buy on Amazon

  • No Monkeys No ChocolateTitle: No Monkeys, No Chocolate
  • Author: Melissa Stewart and Allen Young
  • Illustrator: Nicole Wang
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Nonfiction, nature, humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-58089-287-2
  • Extras: More detailed information in “Cocoa and Rain Forests,” “What You Can Do to Help,” and “Author’s Note”