Archive for Environment

A Place for Frogs

Written by Melissa Stewart
Illustrated by Higgins Bond

Five thousand different species of frogs have been identified by scientists around the world. Several of the best known species of frogs are mentioned or illustrated in this book. However, the purpose of the book, and the series it belongs to, (A Place For…) is conservation.

The main story line is about how farm chemicals might harm frogs, changing plants in a natural habitat and even walking your dog can harm frogs. Because of the heavy preachy type of writing in this book, it should not be shelved with the true nonfiction books about frogs, but rather with the environmental conservation books.

Text insert boxes give true information as far as the life cycle of frogs and kinds of places or conditions where they lay their eggs. Several suggestions are made for helping frogs to survive, such as, watching out for them when you see them in a road. However, other suggestions are made without scientific basis. Statements like “scientists think…” are not the same as definitive research.

Teachers, parents and librarians might want to use this text in the lower grades of two and three for information about community and personal responsibility. However, it should not be used in the higher grades of four and five as the selected bibliography offers no actual scientific studies nor proof. This book will not meet any core curriculum standards aside from differentiating factual writing from persuasive writing. It should also be noted that this is an updated version of a book from 2009, and is not a new book.

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  • A Place for FrogsTitle: A Place for Frogs
  • Author: Melissa Stewart
  • Illustrator: Higgins Bond
  • Publisher: Peachtree Books, 2016
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-902-5
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Grade level: 2 to 5
  • Extras: Frog Facts, inside front and back covers are maps showing regions of the world that are home to various frog species, bibliography, other books for recommended reading

Fabulous Frogs

Written by Martin Jenkins
Illustrated by Tim Hopgood

Who knew there are over 5,000 kinds of frogs or that they were so fun to learn about? Each page of this great, beautifully-illustrated book introduces a new and unique species. The goliath frog of western Africa is the largest frog in the world. The smallest lives in Papua New Guinea. The Darwin grog of South America has the pointiest nose. The striped rocket from Australia can jump up to sixteen feet. There are flying frogs and hairy frogs – though both are misnomers. And poisonous frogs in bright colors. Some make nests for their eggs. Some hold the eggs in their mouths. Some frogs never leave the water. Some rarely leave their holes beneath the earth. Many other species are illustrated.

This text is great for use among second graders in a unit about the environment or amphibians. The author lists several excellent websites for learning more about frogs.

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  • Fabulous FrogsTitle: Fabulous Frogs
  • Author: Martin Jenkins
  • Illustrator: Tim Hopgood
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Animals, Nature, Environment
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8100-5

Wild Ones: Observing City Critters

Written by Carol L. Malnor
Illustrated by Cathy Morrison

Nature and its variety of animals are everywhere, even in the city. The author follows a dog as he explores many of the scenes present in every city. A squirrel and an opossum lurk near a shed. Ducklings are in danger on a ledge. A beaver and a gull are busy near the water. Starlings raid a trash bin. A rabbit snacks in a garden. Geese gather near a pond. Foxes, owls, and bats fascinate the dog. This approach is both captivating and enlightening.

As always, Morrison’s illustrations are lively, accurate, and fun to look at. With each illustration, more details are revealed about the natural world of the city.

Second graders will learn a lot about the critters they pass every day. In addition to learning more about the creatures, many reading activities are suggested by the text, including looking for squirrels and their activities on every page. Kids can make observations and maps in their own backyard. Many facts and resources for further learning are listed after the story ends.

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  • Wild OnesTitle: Wild Ones: Observing City Critters
  • Author: Carol L. Malnor
  • Illustrator: Cathy Morrison
  • Published: Dawn Publications, March 1, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, science, environment
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-553-0

Where Did My Clothes Come From?

Written by Chris Butterworth
Illustrated by Lucia Gaggliotti


Answering the title question, this informative book is surprisingly light and entertaining. The author highlights each piece of clothing most children wear and goes into quite a bit of detail on the origins of the main material used for each. Jeans begin as plants, are harvested by tractors and people, and run through a series of processing steps. Each step is skillfully illustrated, including the maturing bolls and the problems of seed extraction. Readers get a look at spinning machines, looms, cutting presses, the individual jeans pieces, and the seamstresses making the final jeans. The author also talks about flax and hemp. Sweaters are often made of wool, sheared from sheep, washed, dried, spun into yarn, and knitted into garments. Wool also comes from other animals. Silk is especially dear and reserved for party dresses. Manufacturers are experts at raising the moths. Fleece is recycled plastic bottles. Rubber is another plant derivative – with a different process, including tapping, molding, rolling, and pressing. The author gives one last push for recycling at the end.

Second grade readers will learn a lot about the world they live in and practice their literacy skills along the way.

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  • Where Did My Clothes Come FromTitle: Where Did My Clothes Come From?
  • Author: Chris Butterworth
  • Illustrator: Lucia Gaggliotti
  • Published: Candlewick Press, August 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Manufacturing, Recycling
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7750-3
  • Extras: Author’s note, bibliography, index

When We Go Walking

Written by Cari Best

Illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker

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With integration being such an important concept in education today, this book is a must have.  What better way to interest your second grade children in taking a walk around the neighborhood or school than to follow Wendy and her family on their walk?  Walking, stretching, bending, and twisting, sight words, new vocabulary, and new ideas.  Literacy and PE all from one book.  But wait, there’s more!  Recycling and repurposing equals science.  Wendy and her family find all sorts of fun stuff to put into her collecting bag.  They see birds and trains, old clocks and old signs.  The illustrations are colorful, detailed, and have added dimension due to the creative collage work of the illustrator.   There is a wonderful “I spy” quality of this book as the text and pictures match perfectly.

Although this would be a great book to read aloud to first grade children, the vocabulary and more complex language make it more appropriate for second grade.  “Then I muscle my legs like Wonder Girl’s and lug it up the hill.”  The authors use of words in this way, paired with the illustrator’s sweet pictures help the reader expand vocabularies, learn different ways to say things, and gain comprehension from pictures.  PE, art, and even some science can be integrated into literacy lessons with this book.  It might even be possible to squeeze out a lesson on being environmentally friendly out of this book as Wendy and her brother find trash that does not belong on their Rambling Road.

Whether a child has memories of family walks or is looking forward to making them, all children (and adults) will find something fun and interesting here.

  • When We Go WalkingTitle:  When We Go Walking
  • Author:  Cari Best
  • Illustrator:  Kyrsten Brooker
  • Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
  • Reviewer:  Sandi Waymire
  • Hardcover:  unpaged
  • ISBN: 9781477816486
  • Genre:  contemporary fiction
  • Lexile score:  480

These Seas Count!

Written by Alison Formento

Illustrated by Sarah Snow

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Something bad has happened at Sunnyside Beach.  There is trash everywhere.  So Mr. Tate’s class is helping to clean up the beach.  Captain Ned tries to keep the sea clean, but there is too much garbage for him and he needs some help.  He tells the children that the sea is sad and if they listen closely, the sea will tell them a story.  They hear about one whale leaping high, two giant sea turtles surfing, three marlins gliding and more.  But, for sea life to be free and happy, the oceans must be clean and have no pollution.  Everything in the ocean is connected so when the water is dirty, everything suffers.  Now Mr. Tate’s class counts bags of garbage!  When they ride on Captain Ned’s boat, they help clean the ocean then, too.

This lovely book emphasizes the need for humans to take care of earth.  Having the sea “talk” to the children makes it less didactic, but the message is still a stern one.  The digital collage illustrations create a feeling of depth with lots of color to keep the reader’s attention.  There is a bibliography and a list of internet sites as well as an author’s note that provides background information on ocean pollution.  Great for units on the environment.  This book is good for a class read aloud and its second grade reading level makes this a choice for student-made audio books or PowerPoint presentations.  The publisher’s website has a teacher’s guide with in-depth literacy activities: (   There is a nice book trailer on the author’s website: (

  • These Seas CountTITLE: These Seas Count!
  • AUTHOR: Alison Formento
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Sarah Snow
  • PUBLISHER: Albert Whitman
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 32 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-8075-7871-1
  • GENRE: Environment, Picture Book